The National Parent Forum of Scotland


Welcome to the National Parent Forum of Scotland online discussion. 

NPFS – Conference 2011 – Online Discussion Highlights Summary – PDF
Iain Ellis, NPFS Chair’s Closing Summary
Angela Constance, Minister for Children and Young People’s Closing Summary

*UPDATED: The pre-conference discussion has now closed but the discussion is available here as an archive.*

You may be interested in the following related links aswell.

“I am delighted to open the NPFS online discussion on Engage for Education. Parents are key partners in the successful delivery of Curriculum for Excellence and we simply cannot achieve the best possible outcomes for all our children and young people without effective parental involvement in learning and in the life of the school. I am keen to ensure that parents get the information they want about the new curriculum, and to hear from as many parents and carers as possible. I will ensure that your questions will be answered by myself and my Ministerial colleagues.”

Michael Russell
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning

“As Chair of the National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS), I am excited about opening this first ever Scottish online parents conference on Curriculum for Excellence. The NPFS wanted give parents who can’t come along to our Conference on 1 October, a chance to get their questions answered, or a chance to tell us their experiences.   The Forum parent reps are involved because we know how important education is to our children and we want to make a difference.  We hope parents across Scotland, and beyond, will take advantage of this opportunity.” 

Iain Ellis, Chair of the National Parent Forum of Scotland

We are grateful to the following for agreeing to take part in the discussions throughout the week:

Mike Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning
Angela Constance, Minister for Children and Young People
Dr Alasdair Allan, Minster for Learning and Skills
Terry Lanagan, representative of Association of Directors of Education and Director, West Dunbartonshire
Ken Muir, Chief Inspector, Education Scotland
Kathryn Farrow, as Chair of the Scottish Parental Involvement Officers Network (the Local Authority Network for Parental Involvement Officers)
Lorraine Sanda, National Parental Involvement Officer, Scottish Government
Scottish Qualifications Authority

A different ‘prompt’ question will start the debate each day although you are very welcome to post your general education-related questions and suggestions. Questions and comments will also be fed into the conference on October 1.

Day 1: 26 September
What are your priorities for your child[ren], for schools and for education in 21st century Scotland?  How do you think you can help to deliver them? How do you think parents and parent councils can best contribute towards enhancing children’s learning experiences?

Day 2: 27 September
A new national inspection regime for schools, their partners and local authorities is being introduced.  What do you think would improve outcomes for children and young people?

Day 3: 28 September
What do you think parent councils and schools can do to ensure that all parents and children feel welcomed, comfortable and included in the school community?

Day 4: 29 September
What are your child[ren]‘s suggestions for improving their schools and their learning experiences?

Day 5: 30 September
What is on your mind? Open discussion about education, schools and wider learning opportunities. 

The online discussion took place from 26 – 30 September. Comments are now closed.

Related information
Watch a video about Curriculum for Excellence in action

Have your say

Join in the discussion and help us make Scottish Education even better.

  • iainellis

    Thanks to everyone for their contributions to the debate so far. We have had a fantastic response. Following the NPFS Conference on Saturday, I will post up a closing summary early next week. If you want to get in touch with the NPFS, please go to, where you can continue to post your views and concerns on the blog set up.

    Iain Ellis

    Chair NPFoS

  • Michael Russell, Cab

    I have noted with interest the different comments in the debate about standards and improvement in our schools @T2ERL @terribly smith @frasershaw. As Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, there is no one more committed than I to improving attainment and raising and realising ambition for all children in our schools. I have already brought together a group of head teachers for a short-term period to advise us how to drive forward attainment in all schools and nurseries. We have many good schools and many good teachers, as evidenced from our results in PISA where we have routinely performed at or above the OECD average in reading, maths and science. Within this positive context we do however know that our performance declined relative to other leading nations from 2000 to 2006. It is pleasing to see that this fall was arrested in 2009. But I am ambitious for improvement. Curriculum for Excellence is our response to that challenge and that is why I am continuing to support teachers and others to ensure that all our young people get the chance to be as successful as they can. There are challenges of course, but I would like to work with Parent Councils and parents to ensure that we enhance the chances of all our children.

    Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning

  • Michael Russell, Cab


    Thank you for your comment.

    Schools and Local Authorities know their school community best. Scotland does not have a national curriculum as such but we have policy and guidance for Curriculum for Excellence which all schools and Authorities are now following. Curriculum for Excellence sets out a number of entitlements for all children and young people, but the precise number and choice of qualifications provided has to be a decision for schools and Local Authorities to take in consultation with learners and parents.

    Employers and Further Education establishments have been involved in the developments of Curriculum for Excellence for a number of years now and we have been working with Employers to help them understand Curriculum for Excellence and the new qualifications. You can find out more about Partnerships with Employers at <a href="” target=”_blank”>

    Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning

  • Lorraine Sanda, Nati

    Many of you have highlighted the difficulties with Parent Council communication with parents through school and about setting email addresses for Parent Councils. We will look into this issue with the Scottish Parental Involvement Officer Network. I will ask the NPFS to keep you informed of the outcomes of those discussions.

    Lorraine Sanda, National Parental Involvement Coordinator, Scottish Government

  • Terry Lanagan, Execu

    It has been very encouraging to see so many parents contribute to the on-line discussion throughout the week.

    Concerns about Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) are understandable. This is the biggest change in Scottish education for several generations. I believe that the most significant aspect of CfE is the fact that teachers are required to examine at a fundamental level their approaches to teaching, learning and assessment. The consequence of this process is that learning is becoming much more exciting and relevant for all our young people, with technology being seen as an integral aspect of learning rather than an artificial bolt-on. As a member of the Curriculum for Excellence Management Board, I can assure parents that all partners are fully signed up to the implementation process and that all timescales and deadlines continue to be met. I genuinely believe that CfE will deliver significant advantages for all learners within the Scottish education system.

    I was interested in comments from parents about parental involvement in their children's education. The best schools involve parents in every aspect of their children' education: pastoral, developmental, curricular, nutritional etc. It can be a significant challenge for schools to engage all parents in all of these aspects of education. However, I can see evidence within my own education authority of schools adopting innovative methods to involve parents in the life of the school and in every aspect of their children's learning. I would encourage parents to approach their children's school if they wish a greater degree of access than they currently have.

    The key to success is effective communication: from parent to school and from school to parent; and from parent to education authority and education authority to parent.

    Terry Lanagan

    Executive Director of Educational Services,

    West Dunbartonshire Council

  • iainellis


    In West-Dunbartonshire we run along the same as you, our group is chaired by a parent and both the authority and parents set the agenda.

    Our director and his officers make themselves very accessable and will attend Parent Council meetings if asked to.

  • iainellis

    @Fiona Phillips

    Fiona, we have a rep on the Rural Schools Commission, Bob Cree-Hay and I have passed your comments onto him and he will pass/ raise them at the commission.

  • Jackie Brock, Deputy


    Thank you for your comments on entry qualifications for universities to study nursing. We will reply to you separately about the qualifications required for this particular area but in the meantime, I hope you find this general information helpful.

    University entry requirements

    Universities are autonomous institutions with responsibility for developing their own admissions policies and procedures which includes setting their own entry requirements.

    Entry to study at university is highly competitive and even minimum entry requirements do not necessarily guarantee a place. This is especially the case for courses which are in high demand and for which, in every year, there are a number of students applying for a very small number of university places. Highers are the standard entry route for access to Scottish universities as it is agreed that entry should be based on qualifications that are generally available to learners in Scotland. However many universities also accept Advanced Highers and recognise the Scottish Baccalaureates.

    There are also a wide range of opportunities for learners to progress to higher education through a number of other routes, a process known as ‘articulation’. Following attainment of an HNC or HND qualification at college, a learner could progress through an articulation route which could allow entry to second or third year of a university course. An example of this is the HNC Care and Administrative Practice at James Watt College:… .

    Completion of this course provides an academic route to progress (articulate) in to a number of university degree courses.

    Others include James Watt College,  Moray College, Perth College (Social Care HNC) and Stevenson College.


    Curriculum for Excellence

    Curriculum for Excellence aims to broaden and deepen learning for young people and provide more opportunities to develop skills for learning, life and work – as well as obtaining qualifications.  It will also promote and deepend literacy and numeracy skills.


    New qualifications are also being developed to replace Intermediate and Standard grades from 2013-14 onwards.  As well as more traditional maths courses, new practical Life Skills Maths qualifications are being developed as part of this, with a focus on developing mathematical ideas and skills that can be applied in personal life and in the workplace.


    Whilst it is the responsibility of individual institutions to determine their admissions policies, I can reassure you that the Scottish Government is working with the Higher Education sector to raise awareness of the increased flexibility and greater range of pathways to obtaining qualifications under Curriculum for Excellence.

    I hope this is helpful to you and your child in making the choice of what to do after school.

    Jackie Brock, Deputy Director, Scottish Government

  • T2ERL

    Last night in West Lothian we had a group meeting of the Parent Council representatives. The group meet usually once a term.

    The Head of Service for Education presented a couple of papers of interest to parents. we followed this with an open discussion of matters concerning parent councils. Lack of information from and about schools was a theme. Communication was also a theme.

    These meetings have the agenda set by parents and are organised and run by parents and give us access to the senior management team to let them know what is concerning parents.

    How do other authorities give parent councils access to their Director of Education and senior management team?

  • Lorraine Sanda, Nati


    Thank you for passing on the concerns of parents in the Western Isles. I have asked colleagues about the points you have raised. They have provided me with the following information which I hope will be helpful.

    Music plays an important role in education, helping to shape our sense of our personal, social and cultural identity. Learning in music and the wider expressive arts also plays a role in supporting children and young people to recognise and value the variety and vitality of culture locally, nationally and globally.

    Curriculum for Excellence includes a number of entitlements that all young people should experience. These include access to a broad general education that provides flexibility, breadth and depth across experiences and outcomes in all curriculum areas, including music. The Scottish Government is very keen that schools and local authorities continue to provide music tuition to all pupils who want to receive lessons.

    However, the Scottish curriculum is not prescribed in statute and it is the responsibility of local authorities and schools to decide on its content to meet the local needs and priorities of their constituents. Therefore, the arrangements for the management and delivery of the curriculum are the responsibility of the education authorities. Local authorities and schools should consult with the new framework and guidelines under Curriculum for Excellence when designing it but it is for the local authorities to decide how much of their budget they allocate to the provision of music services.

    It is also for schools and local authorities to decide what activities and what resources to put in place for physical education, physical activity and sport to meet local needs and circumstances. However, in support of this, the Scottish Government has given funding of £1.8m in 2008/09 and 2010/11 and has committed a further £600k in 2011/12 to provide a postgraduate certificate course for existing primary teachers to enhance their skills in delivering physical education.

    We know that it is vitally important that physical education programmes and opportunities for physical activity and sport are widely available. That is why in addition to planned physical education sessions in school, the Curriculum for Excellence guidance also reflects our expectations that physical activity and sport should have a special place. It is important that young people can build on school based sporting opportunities within their wider communities.

    Lorraine Sanda, National Parental Involvement Coordinator, Scottish Government

  • Michael Russell, Cab

    Thanks @normacampbell

    The world is changing fast, and the demands on young people are ever increasing. Today’s young person may have 10-14 jobs by the time they are 38. We need to prepare learners for jobs that don’t exist, using technology that hasn’t been invented to solve problems we can’t yet imagine. We aim to equip young people with knowledge, understanding, confidence and skills, giving them a competitive edge in a global job market and improving their life chances. Please refer to the CfE Background and Benefits factfile for more on how CfE is changing Scottish education, and why.

    In relation to reporting – reporting on your child's learning needs to reflect the changes in learning and teaching practices. Teachers are now assessing progress in a number of ways for example: performances, presentations and discussions. Capturing this variety of information needs to be reported differently. The key issue is that you need clear, positive and constructive feedback about your child’s learning and their progress so that you can help in their next steps in learning. You should ask your school for the information you need to help you understand what progress your child is making.

    Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning

  • iainellis

    We know parents are worried about the new qualifications.

    NPFS have been working with SQA and Scottish Government to keep parents concerns on their agenda for information. We are pleased that they have responded to us and are taking part in our discussion.

    NPFS are providing a chance for parents to hear more from the SQA directly at our conference tomorrow and will be sharing their new leaflet guide for parents which is hot off the press! For those of you who can’t attend see the video from SQA and the leaflet on their dedicated parent area at

  • Educationscotland

    @George Marshall

    Where an individual child requires additional support, you are right in commenting that the other parents/children are not informed of the detail of the individualised support programme. You may find it useful to speak to the school about their relationships/behaviour policy/strategy and staged intervention policy so that you are aware of the range of approaches used to support children and young people to improve relationships and behaviour.

    The link below will give you further information about the work of the Scottish Government’s Positive Behaviour Team to support local authorities, schools and learning establishments with the implementation of a wide range of strategies and approaches to promote positive relationships and behaviour.

    The Positive Behaviour Team is currently developing training materials to inform parents of the positive behaviour approaches currently being used in schools which are supported by the Scottish Government.

    You will also find information on learning approaches which you may find useful by following the links below.

  • JoannaMurphy

    Not enough is being done to deal with pupils for whom English is not their first language. This is a major issue for a few parts of Scotland, particularly in our inner cities. In our school we have dozens of languages spoken and many pupils,parents and grandparents who have no English whatsoever. We gain a great deal from these families but the enormous workload on the staff is severely underestimated by the Local Authority and the Scottish Government.

  • Lorraine Sanda, Nati

    @Primary Parent

    Thanks for all your comments – it is very helpful to know about the gulf between parents and some schools. The Scottish Government set out its aspiration and policy in the 2006 Parental Involvement Act and it continues to promote parental involvement across all its policies and legislation. The Act recognised the importance of all three levels of parental involvement – in schools, in local authorities and nationally. I think all three are equally important and challenging and we need to work at all of them. We need to continue to ensure that there are the right opportunities for all parents to be welcomed and involved in all areas of education, and ensure that practice in schools and nurseries reflects our aspirations. We work closely with the SPION (the network of Parental Involvement Officers in Local Authorities, with Directors of Education and with Education Scotland, with the National Parent Forum of Scotland, and others to promote parental involvement. Sometimes it comes down to Leadership or training of teachers. Communication and relationships are also vital and I would encourage you to work in partnership with your parent council and authority to press for more and better quality parental involvement. Inspection teams look very closely at partnership with parents when they carry out their inspections, and it is also a key part of the self-evaluation process in schools. As Iain Ellis as said earlier in this debate, partnership in the true sense of the word, can be difficult to achieve, but I think it is worth it and we all have a role to play. As National Parental Involvement Coordinator for Scottish Government, I will continue to do what I can to promote that sense of partnership which I think is vital to the success of parental involvement at all levels. The comments throughout this week have played an important role in helping us all understand where some of the difficulties remain, and I am grateful to the NPFS for hosting the discussion. We will reflect on all the views aired and consider what more we can do.

    Lorraine Sanda, National Parental Involvement Coordinator, Scottish Government

  • iainellis

    I would like to know why so much emphasis is put on qualifications when it comes to entering university's.

    My child really wants to go into nursing yet when she looked into it you need maths, thats fine but, what happens when you have a mental block to maths and haven't a hope in getting even the basics, where does this leave you.

    I then looked into other courses to see entry requirements and guess what, all want english and maths.

    I think this is probably a bigger issue than we think and would like some information on it, please.

  • Lorraine Sanda, Nati

    For those who have raised the issue of the starting age for school age children, you may be interested in a piece of research that the Scottish Executive commissioned in 2003/2004. This research concluded that there was no evidence for an optimum school starting age. See

    Also, see the Ministers blog post on this site on the Power of Play – which reiterates the Scottish Government's commitment to offering play opportunities for all children.

    Lorraine Sanda, National Parental Involvement Coordinator, Scottish Government

  • Angela Constance, Mi

    Thank you for your comments about the age children start school.

    We know that children are born with a pre-disposition for learning and that it is vital to provide them with a range of stimulating experiences from the start, to nurture their development and wellbeing. It is in the early years that the foundations for future literacy, numeracy, social and emotional health and wellbeing, and the broader capacity to learn are laid. Early years settings deliver early learning using the principles of “active learning” which fully engages children in learning activities appropriate to their age and stage. More information on active learning at the pre-school level can be found in Building the Curriculum 2.

    A key benefit of Curriculum for Excellence is that its early level now spans the pre-school and P1 stage meaning children in P1 experience greater continuity in their learning. Put simply, they learn social and emotional skills and resilience, literacy and numeracy through engaging and purposeful play with their fellow children, allowing them more time to develop these vital skills in a way that comes naturally to them. Children need to be safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included, in order to grow, develop and learn. This is achieved not only through Curriculum for Excellence from 3 years on, but through all early learning and childcare starting with parents and carers in the home environment.

    In Scotland, the statutory responsibility for provision of education lies with local authorities. The Education (Scotland) Act 1980 states that children must start school on the day the term starts in the August after their 5th birthday. However, a local authority can set a date after the start of the August term, and if a child reaches five on or before this date they can start school the August before their fifth birthday. In practice this generally means children born between the day the term starts in August and the 28/29 February can start school before they are five.

    Angela Constance, Minister for Children and Young People

  • Angela Constance, Mi


    Thank you for your comment about additional support needs.

    Curriculum for Excellence offers the opportunity for learning to be personalised to meet the needs of each child or young person, including those with additional support needs. Developed as part of this, the Supporting Learners Framework sets out a range of resources, advice and information for those working in, and with schools to support pupils to achieve in their learning.

    Building the Curriculum 5 sets out the framework for the assessment of learning and includes the very important principle of the recognition of achievement. This means that all children and young people's learning, whether it takes place in or outwith school, should be recognised. It also highlights that a wide range of partners are involved including parents. Information on the Supporting Learners Framework and Curriculum for Excellence is available from the Education Scotland website at

    Angela Constance, Minister for Children and Young People

  • Fiona Phillips

    As a mother of children who's school was recently threatened with closure (twice and failed each time) and as a member of the Argyll Rural Schools Network, I have been waiting for an opportunity to make my points and today seems the most suitable.

    My concerns start with the management of schools by Local Authorities and the downright lies some of them tell to try and justify closing schools. For example, most councils give out the same propaganda about rural schools being a drain on resources, but don't mention that over 90% of the costs are not only met directly by the Supporting People Grant (GAE) and that in closing these rural schools, they don't get to keep all that money – it goes back to the central pot. Combined with the ongoing and ever rising transportation costs and maintenance for the closed school and grounds, there are actually few occassions where closing a rural school will save money.

    I am looking forward hopefully to the findings of the Commission on Rural Education and to strengthening the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010. I'd like them to ensure that Councils get clear and precise instructions to follow and do not abuse and that Councils who do not follow the instructions (some of which are already cleary there – for example: doing a Community Impact Study and researching Viable Alternatives BEFORE looking at closing a rural school) are adhered to or the Council should be penalised and the funds donated to the communities they have carelessly done their best to destroy so that they may rebuild themselves.

    The provision of rural education will not disappear. Scotland is a country of large rural areas and is what draws visitors in their millions to see every year. Rural schools are at the heart of these villages and communities and their removal as a key part of their infrastructure makes their demise inevitable. So Councils must accept their duty to provide services to these areas.

    All over Scotland, we are feeling the pinch and Councils are too, but as more and more services are removed from rural areas, do you see any Council reducing the Council Tax of its inhabitants in line with that? No. Why should rural people be paying for services that are only available to people living in urban areas?

    My children's school is an nationally recognised, award-winning school. Its not because it has piles of money spent on it. Its because of hard-working teachers, parents, pupils and a community that backs it up at every opportunity.

  • tonyrafferty

    Re yesterday's question

    P4 Girl. Pink painted toilets and more mirrors. Turn boys into nice people, like girls are.

    From the mouth of babes…

  • Primary Parent

    On: parents feeling included in the school community

    There are a lot of comments here indicating that the role of the school culture is crucial. If parents don't feel welcome in the school, if HTs or teachers don't actively invite parents into the school day, it is very hard for parents to push to be involved.

    There is a huge gulf between the practice in some schools, and the aspirations of policy and legislation.

    What are the Scottish Government and education authorities intending to do about this?

    I know of parents who had tears in their eyes when delivering something into the classroom, because it was the only chance they ever got to see their child learning at school, and it meant so much to them.

    Also, most parents don’t actually know very much of what the kids do at school. Therefore it is very hard to support the children in their learning or become involved. A generally open culture and more information from the teacher at parents’ evenings, in which the class teacher can explain to all parents what he/she is trying to achieve, would be useful here.

    Parents are generally terribly interested in their children’s learning. But we can’t be involved in something we know nothing about.

  • Primary Parent

    On : A new national inspection regime

    Whether parental involvement, or offering outdoor activities, there are huge variations across Scotland depending on the school culture. Changing a school culture can be very hard and impossible for a few parents alone.

    So, in the same way as there are targets such as for 2 hrs of PE per week, or an outdoor week, there could be targets of, for example, offering every parent an opportunity to observe their child’s learning at school. Or a target of 2 hrs of outdoor learning per week. Or there could be a definition of outcomes. Some schools drag a requirement from HMIe to improve areas such as parental involvement for years and years with no change.

    Unless progress towards policy aims such as parental involvement or outdoor activity can be measured and assessed, it will be hard to identify those schools who need help in making progress.

    Where self-evaluation is used, it would need to be very specific about what improvements a school intends to make and how it is intending to go about it.

  • Ann

    responding to iainellis re school start age

    I agree with you that a later school start is generally accepted to be better for kids. Cambridge review, biggest review into UK education for years, came to the same conclusion a couple of years ago and stated that the early start at 4/5 yrs did, at best, nothing good, at worst it turned people off school. All other EU countries start at 6 or 7, with excellent results.

  • Ann

    On What are your child[ren]’s suggestions for improving their schools and their learning experiences?

    Less is more. My child in primary would like more play. Ideally outdoors. Why not reduce teaching time and give more time over to free play during school hours. This would be better for kids and free up some time for teachers too. Kids would concentrate better in the time they are expected to sit down and concentrate.

    We know that free play is very important to learning (social skills, lateral thinking etc) , that outdoors is healthy and an accepted CfE priority, and we know that there is no correlation between learning outcomes and teaching input, i.e. the time kids spend at school (international comparison). In all other EU countries, kids don't start school til 6 or 7seven (i.e. lots of free play) and in a number of them they get taught for a much shorter part of the day. Their learning outcomes at the end of Primary are as good as here.

    If kids get more time off academic work, they are also more likely to be enthusiastic about it. Neurological research now shows that learning with enthusiasm is far more effective. So, introducing more free time in the school day should be a winner all round.

    If this was scheduled for all schools, playground supervision could be arranged for the free play time, thus giving teachers more preparation time. And it would take away the pressure from individual teachers needing to justify free time in the face of firm targets.

  • martinwilliams

    Kathryn Farrow.

    I appreciate the points you make about current Data Protection issues but disagree that not sharing information should remain the case. It should be a parent's own choice whether he/she wants to opt out of communications with the parent council?.

    As I understand it parent councils are statutory bodies who have an obligation to communicate with their entire parent fora. In a previous post I mention that parents involved in PCs are giving up voluntary time and that the monetary resources at their disposal are not great (and on this score I have greater concern for schools in less affluent areas) If there is a genuine political will to involve PCs in schools then help in this regard would be appreciated.

    This information sharing happens a lot in commercial practice where an individual has the choice not to receive further info or have their details passed on to other bodies by ticking a box. I appreciate the importance of data protection and consent but cannot appreciate the legal difference this scenario and the erlier one I advocated for PCs receiving info from the council through informed consent.

    I think the more interesting question is not whether PCs should get this information but how this contact information should be looked after safely and used appropriately. On this point I agree with you that this is the responsibility lies squarely with the PC.

    Our PC has constructed a large list of parent contact details- all freely given- but with an awful lot of hard work done to achieve this.

    Information is sent out only at the behest of the Parent Council after meetings or through the Parent Council Chair so that parents are not bombarded with constant information to the point where it becomes background noise.

    Perhaps SPION could help. Without communication there is no involvement.

  • kiranjoza

    @martinwilliams re PC comms:

    In 2009 the PC at my school wanted to circulate a questionnaire to canvas parents' views on a new school proposal but the then director of education tried to block the bag drop. We contacted SPTC who advised us that, although the council did not like what we wanted to say (and it was as balanced as we could make the facts), we were there to deliver the Parent Forum's message to Dundee City Council.

    SPTC sent the director the following email, which seemed to have the desired result and the bag drop was subsequently permitted:

    "As you know, a Parent Council is a voluntary body set up by the Parent Forum and responsible to the Parent Forum. It does not fall under the line management of the school or the council. One of the duties of the Parent Council is to represent the views of the Parent Forum and this in turn requires it to seek the views of the Parent Forum.

    I have seen both the newsletter and the questionnaire and it seems to me that the Parent Council is behaving in a very responsible way. The members are taking their responsibilities very seriously. They are fully within their rights to issue the questionnaire. I understand that you banned them from doing this and, when they chose to ignore your ban (which was ultra vires), you banned the teachers from distributing the questionnaire. In the Parental Involvement Act, local councils are charged with helping Parent Councils fulfil their functions and I would suggest that this ban on distribution breaches that requirement. Meanwhile I have advised the Parent Council to distribute the letter by hand, at the school gate."

    We have this year managed to get more than 50% of parents to provide their email contact details so that we can communicate directly with them, but like others, have found that the school is unable to either use the information they already have to contact parents on our behalf, or to share the details with the PC – quite rightly due to data protection. However, @JoannaMurphy and others make a very sensible suggestion that the annual data check could include a tick box to opt-in so that parents can allow us to use their contact details for PC business.

    @JoannaMurphy, @debbienewlands et al, re PC email addresses @blaghblaghschool:

    DCC have been very kind and paid for a dedicated domain,, and set up generic mailboxes for every PC in Dundee. Unfortunately, based on feedback from our local parental involvement officer, and my own experiences when forwarded information on behalf of NPFS, very few people seem to be using them. Perhaps it's difficult enough for many people to cope with managing their own personal email, let alone an additional mailbox. Or perhaps those of us that are able to do this need to show other PCs how to do this?

    Alternatively, the more parents we can get to join parent networks such as NPFS ( the easier communications could be.

  • iainellis

    Daily round up

    Very interesting day today, with a wide range of topics, where to start, firstly have to thank SQA for taking part. How can we better communicate with each other and show we are working in partnership. We all agree that it should be a lot easier than it is.

    How do we know how our children are doing under CfE in primary? How our schools are being lead.

    Finally and by no means the least the flourish of responses from our children, which I hope has raised a smile in your home as much as it has in mine. Ranging from all children being treated the same, swimming pools, chocolate, more use of technology and lastly my heart goes out to Joanna's child who only has an outside toilet, the rest of us don't know how lucky we are.

    How many Parent Councils members talk regularly with the pupils in their school, or go and observe some classes and talk to the teachers. Maybe something to think about.

    Tomorrow is our last day, each day it is getting more interesting but, today will take a bit of beating after the input of the children.

    Looking forward to Saturday’s conference. Remember if you can’t make it, you can see the main speeches live at

    Iain Ellis

    Chair NPFoS

  • Joe McL

    P7 son would like more time at ICT Suite, more use of technology in the classroom such as notebooks and tablets. Weekly swimming classes would also be good.

    P2 son would like more maths (his own words) and more playground games.

    P1 son is still getting used to being in school all day (starts all day from August in East Renfrewshire) and is sound asleep!!

    From a parents view they are all great answers and all improve and enhance their learning experiences.

  • ossbilly

    In answer to todays Question my P4 son would like,

    Bigger class rooms, new computers in the ICT suit a new Laptop, but more importantly new books.

  • JoannaMurphy

    P4 daughter suggests less boys and girls in her class (currently 32) more active learning, computer use and a nicer uniform (currently brown) Oh and while she remembers can we get inside toilets and some grass (Victorian school)

    S2 daughter says more trips out to visit relevant places. Cooler, younger teachers who teach things in an more exciting, fun way. Use of more technology (Nintendo DSi etc) to play learning games….also more school teams for sports not football !

    S5 daughter says put the chocolate back in the vending machines and more time to do Highers.

    Says it all really….

  • Lorraine Sanda, Nati

    Answers from the Sanda children to today's question: the youngest wants longer playtime so that he could concentrate better when he went back in; the secondary one wants more interactive stuff; and my daughter – less hanging around with nothing to do! Their words not mine!

    Lorraine Sanda, National Parental Involvement Coordinator, Scottish Government

  • iainellis

    What are your child[ren]’s suggestions for improving their schools and their learning experiences?

    In answer to today's question my daughter say's

    'That schools need to improve the fairness throughout school. That even though they say that each pupil is treated fairly and given the same attention it just isn't that way. Those who do best are given constant oppurtunites and those who are distruptive most of the time in class are praised constantly for things that other students do without expecting praise.

    There is no level ground for average students and they're not treated with the same praise as the disruptive students and usually not even told about the opportunities that they are entitiled to because the school doesn't view them as high flyers.'

    There you go an answer from a teenager.

  • tonyrafferty

    @ Kathryn Farrow, Martin Williams, Joanna Murphy, Debbie Newlands

    I am led to believe that the system employed by Aberdeen City Council for Parent Councils email addresses, is available to all Councils. This enables all PCs in Aberdeen City to communicate easily as well as giving all the Parent Forum a PC contact address. I'm sure our SPION contact will be happy to extract and pass on the technical details.

    The email address of the Parent Council school I represent is: –

    Only members of the Parent Council designated to open the account have access and it can be opened wherever there is web access.

    Please feel free to try it out and I or someone else from our PC will respond.

  • T2ERL

    Re today's question

    Having spoken to the constituents: one wants a swimming pool in his primary; another toilets that lock and have proper seats and the last teachers who can control a class!

  • Kathryn Farrow, Chai

    @ martinwilliams raises a number of interesting points.

    Data protection simply doesn’t allow schools or local authorities to share parent and carer details and this must remain the case. No matter how good everyone’s intentions, things can go wrong. I have experienced a situation where a parent used the email addresses of several others for the wrong purpose entirely and caused great upset. Asking parents to opt in to a Parent Council database is probably the best way to take this forward but Parent Councils will need to take responsibility for the use of the data. Many Parent Councils have extensive contact lists and use social media to facilitate regular communication with the parents they represent. I take Joanna Murphy's point about creating a Parent Council email address at each school and would like to take this issue back to the SPION Group for further discussion. We do not want to create a Parent Council email account that can only be opened within the school as that takes us nowhere. We perhaps need to look at the email account being hosted elsewhere?

    Local authorities are required to provide support for the operation of Parent Councils and generally provide a budget for admin. The sums are not enormous but seem to adequately support communication of the non-electronic variety.

    The schoolbag mail issue is complex. In general, parents tend to perceive items that appear in the schoolbag as having the endorsement of the school. I am aware of many items (beyond Parent Council communication) which have been refused this route. Asking a headteacher to distribute correspondence which is against local authority policy places them in a very difficult position, so I am not surprised that the school refused. It is also worth mentioning that school closures do not happen unless there has been an extensive consultation process that includes meetings and the opportunity to respond in writing. The Parent Council has a role in encouraging parents to submit written responses and attend the public meeting where all issues can be aired. Schools would have no problem promoting the consultation process on behalf of the Parent Council but could not put out material that includes an opinion.

    Kathryn Farrow, Chair of SPION (Scottish Parental Involvement Officers Network)

  • Lorraine Sanda, Nati


    Thanks for your comment. I have asked CfE colleagues about the points you have raised. I hope the following is helpful.

    The levels within the English and Literacy curriculum guidance cover what children and young people should be able to do at the different levels from early through to 4th level. This replaces the old A-F levels with the 5-14 Programme. You can read about the levels and the expectations of where young people should be in relation to these in more detail at….

    The English and Literacy curriculum guidance is available at… . This covers areas such as progression through the different levels and how this will be assessed by teachers. Note that these are written for teachers and other practitioners so do contain specific education language and terms.

    The ongoing reports you receive from your child's teacher either informal or formal will also provide more detail on how your child is progressing and how you can help in their next steps in learning. You should ask your child's teacher for information to help you understand what progress your child is making.

    Lorraine Sanda, National Parental Involvement Coordinator, Scottish Government

  • iainellis


    As this is a Midlothian issue, I have asked our Midlothian NPFS rep, Louise Gough to look at it.

    Can you drop her a quick email with your contact details and she will get back to you.

  • Lorraine Sanda, Nati


    The statutory responsibility for provision of education lies with local authorities including the setting of catchment areas for each school. Any changes to catchment areas is a matter for individual authorities and therefore you may wish to contact Midlothian Council to discuss your views.

    Lorraine Sanda, National Parental Involvement Coordinator, Scottish Government

  • iainellis


    I agree with what you are saying but,it all depends on how your letter is worded it has to be non political ie not put the Headteacher or the school in a difficult position. I personally think that if the school/local authority are wanting to work in proper partnership with parents then this wouldn't be an issue. Most things can be sorted out.

    It comes down a lot to the leadership of schools, if HT's are open then parental involvement is excellent but when they aren't then it is an enourmous hurdle to try to get anything done. The job of teachers can be so much more difficult if they have a closed school.

    These are the schools that are losing out by not tapping into the huge amount of expierence that parents have, never more so now with Curriculum for Excellence(CfE), when they can think outside the box and teach in so many different ways.

    We need to be sharing all the good things that are happening with CfE and putting schools/authoritys to task when we see poor practise.

    We as parents want what is best for our children, no matter what level they are working to. I personally want my children to achieve the best that they can, and if that means no qualifications, so be it. Every child has their own unique set of skills. To do that proper I need to be involved in all levels of their education.

    The best way for that to happen is 3 way communication, between the child, parent and the school. When this happens you think YES but, it is down to the HT, again.

    Every Parent Council should be helping to take forward their schools Improvement/ Development Plan whether it be helping to put it together, taking part in specific bits of it, ie re-writing policy papers or making sure that it is on track, time wise. I get frustated when Parent Council's tell me they either haven't heard about it or don't get to see it even when they ask.

    Finally,we need to get this message through to schools, we only want to help so please help us help you to make our schools the best they can be.

  • JillKent

    One thing that concerns me as a parent with this new CfE is how I will I know where my child stands in relation to where he or she should be for their age, and compared to children. I am specifically concerned with reading. I know many children reach secondary school not able to read well enough to access the curriculum. I would really like some standard assessment with results parents are able to access. I think parents would willingly do more to help their children if they knew that children were reading below their expected level for their age.

  • Scottish Qualificati


    In response to your comment about information being made available about course content and structure.

    As part of the process developing the new National Qualifications, the Scottish Qualifications Authority has been publishing regular updates on our website – – which contain information on the subjects young people will choose and details the draft Course content at a number of different levels.

    Final specifications for the new qualifications at Access 1, Access 2, Access 3, National 4, National 5 and Higher (SCQF level 1-6) will be published in April 2012. The final specifications for Advanced Higher (SCQF level 7) will follow in April 2013.

    In the meantime, as the development work progresses, we will continue to publish further detail on the draft proposals for information and feedback prior to finalisation.

    We are encouraging all teaching professionals to engage with this process and help shape the new National Qualifications. We have also published the feedback we have received to date on our website.

    To support these engagement activities, we have produced a number of resources to help parents understand the development process.

    Our dedicated parent website – – provides a comprehensive source of information about the new qualifications, including our ‘mythbuster’ videos and access to our interactive development timeline. Updates are also available through the Parentzone website.

    We have also produced a leaflet for parents which answers a number of key questions parents and carers may have about the new qualifications – a preview copy of our latest edition will be available to delegates at the NPFS conference. Copies of this leaflet will be sent to schools in October for them to issue to their S1 and S2 year groups. The leaflet will also be available online.

    For the past year, our Curriculum for Excellence Liaison Team has also been working with schools across Scotland to help them prepare for the new national qualifications. They’ve been working with teachers, and lecturers and have attended parents’ evenings to help you make sense of the new National Qualifications.

    If you would like our CfE Liaison Team to visit your school, please speak to your school’s management team.

    Scottish Qualifications Authority

  • debbienewlands

    I agree fully with Joanna, local authorities could easily provide/add a parent council email address for each school. This would be the easiest way to reach parents and commumicate effectively.

    An additional line on the form which parents complete to give their own email address to the school could ask permission for Parent Council use too.

  • martinwilliams

    In response to Debbie Newlands. I admire the aspiration of what you say about Parent Councils and what they might achieve, and I agree with the sentiment of your first paragraph.

    The problem us that in many schools PCs are run by well intentioned and competent parents, but who are often doing things additionally to work and family life. There are varying numbers of such parents volunteering in different schools and I would be very interested to know what the socioeconomic variance between schools actually is.

    PCs are also poorly funded and the thought of a single mailshot to all parents would probably just about break the council funded part of their income stream every year.

    A lot of the written material about CFE is fairly woolly and incomprehensible in any case, but I would suggest that it is not the job of a Parent Council to be transmitting information about this and making it comprehensible, but of the schools and Local Education Authority who have the funding and the communication means.

    If its any consolation (probably not!) I have seen a fair bit of the CFE stuff and I still think 'Whats it all about'.

    I think most welcome the overarching aims of CFE, but as it stands it seems high on vagueness and low on specificity.

  • JoannaMurphy

    I agree with martinwilliams regarding contact details of parents/carers. LA s already have systems in place to collect parent data and an easy change in the form would allow it to be passed out. The parent council in my daughter's secondary school has suggested this on a number of occasions and it has fallen on deaf ears. Much lip service is being paid to parental involvement without the real will to carry it out properly. My experience with all schools my children have been at has been that parents are needed when it suits the school ie to accompany trips, to fundraise or to attend parent consultation events (which in my secondary school are arranged "end on" at 4pm-6pm to suit the teaching staff )

    Similarly, the local authority has a massive communication system in place which most choose not to involve their parent councils or parent forum in. All staff have their own personal email addresses at their own school. Would it be so difficult to add ParentCouncil@blahblahschool ?

  • T2ERL

    @George Marshall

    Some very intereresting points being made and I fear that they are ones that countless parents could make.

    Disruption (even at a low level) is a concern to children's education. I have raised it with a head teacher before and was informed it is a difficult issue. No doubt the school were addressing the issue but parents of the non disruptive child cannot be informed what is happening because it is not their child. When the behaviour continues and nothing appears to be happening a child caan quickly become disillusioned and no longer sees it as an issue worth raising.

  • iainellis

    It has come to my attention that Parents in Western Isles have been expressing concern about cuts to specialist PE and traditional music tuition.

    How can Curriculum for Excellence achieve its aims of promoting Health and Well Being and reflecting the cultures of a school community if this is allowed to happen?

  • George Marshall

    There a two things that my primary child often mentions about school.

    She would like more help in the class room during maths. She reports that the teacher teaches three groups and as she’s starts the lesson talking to one group, the others begin with minimal introduction and are left to their own devices. The teacher can only go round the class helping for the last half hour of the lesson. My daughter has said it would be better if everyone was working on the same stuff and everyone was taught at the same time.

    She has also been annoyed too many times by working in groups where there’s too much carry on and she’s often placed next to a disruptive child which makes her uncomfortable. She has said she’d rather have a desk to herself in the corridor and be able to concentrate. She is fed up being used to calm down these children down and she reckons she’s just used to save the teacher hassle. Sometimes the children are put into pairs for tasks and as she’s often given a partner who isn’t very interested in trying at which point my daughter becomes despondent because she can’t do her best work.

    I am worried that these sorts of things will harm her love of learning. I think there must be an adverse effect on her accomplishment in the long term.

    I have spoken to the teacher about this at a parents night but everything seems to be policy. School thinks that by putting the less well behaved next to stable pupils, overall class behaviour will improve. I don’t really see why committed pupils should suffer when there must be other ways for teachers to sort this out.

  • frasershaw

    is it just me or is LTS one big Sales/Spin website – where are the actual facts? Please take the budget spent on Gaelic and produce some actual facts – more people speak Polish for crying out loud. Please please please stop coming up with whizzo new names for this and that and do some actual teaching of core subjects. LTS is like looking at a teletubbies web site.

  • debbienewlands

    With regards to question 3, Parent Councils should play a huge part in bringing parents and schools together. Often parents feel intimidated by teachers and schools in general. The Parent Council can be the common link between the two and can be very effective in spreading information to parents.

    In the last few months there has been lots of email communication sent out to parent councils all over Scotland. Much of this information is updates on Cfe and is information that really needs to reach parents. Parent Councils should be sharing this information by putting the it on their websites, school websites ( with agreement from LAs) and by gathering parents individual email addresses and emailing them directly.

    Many parents are still saying "Cfe- what's it all about?" and don't feel they have enough information. I believe that many Parent Councils are sitting on this information and not spreading it wisley.

    I would like every Parent Council to make this their priority for the coming year. I believe it is also their responsibility to talk to parents and encourage them to feel inclusive in school life.

  • christian

    I would like to know if anything is getting done about catchment areas in Midlothian as some of them are well out of date, and are in urgent need of updating now.

  • martinwilliams

    Parent councils are often of limited means when required to communicate with its parent body, both in terms of manpower and funding.

    Parents are required to give registration details of their child to the local council when they are admitted to school/nursery. For some (fairly spurious) reasons of data protection this contact information cannot be passed on to Parent Councils to facilitate contact, depite parents automatically becoming members of the parent forum when their child enrols at a school.

    If there were any genuine political will to solve this problem then surely a simple opt out question on the registration forms would identify those parents wishing NO contact details to be passed on to the parent council.

    Is that something Mr Russell would be willing to look into?

    On one important issue recently our parent council was forbade to communicate with its entire parent body through schoolbag mail because the content was considered 'political' by the acting HT at the time, and the local council. This was despite the mailshot being the unanimous decision of the parent council and forum meeting to canvass parent opinion and action on the effects on our school of another local school closure.

    In order to achieve the parent council will to communicate with its forum a lot of hard work was put in at a parent's evening and school gates to collect contact info- interestingly only a couple of parents did not want to give contct info to the parent council.

    There are times when parent councils and local authorities will agree on issues and times when they will not, but censuring such distribution of information or inhibiting the ability to communicte does nothing to convey the sense that parents and parent bodies are being treated as equal partners.

    Anyone else had this sort of problem in communication?

  • iainellis

    Daily round up

    Thanks to Kenneth Muir and Dr Allan for joining in our discussion today.

    Some strong messages coming through from parents about how they want to be properly involved in their child’s school and their education. We heard a lot of this when the NPFS supported the Scottish Government with its School Handbook Consultation.

    Parents want good clear information that helps them know what their child is learning and what they can do to help.

    They want to be listened to and they want their schools to be the best they can be.

    Not asking for much!

    Keep the comments coming, they are helping us all make it easier and better @JohnRice!

    Iain Ellis

    Chair NPFoS

  • ossbilly


    Thanks for putting the link to the article done by the ASN group on the NPFoS.

    I echo the comments of JoannaMurphy that it is very dependable on the head teacher at your school and the parent council being along at as many events at the school as possible.

    There seems to be a running theme here on getting information out to parents, the parents council can only ask that the school does the bag drop, text message or put info up on there website or Glow yes there is other ways but these resources exist in the school and we are encouraged to use them, but what seems to be the case is there just not enough resources in the school to do these things the parent council ask, with all the cuts faced by education a lot of the resources that schools had are now reduced and when it comes to parent councils asking for things to be done they will find there at the bottom of the list of things to be done.

    Would like to here others views on this.

  • Educationscotland


    Thank you for your comments

    Education Scotland (which from 1 July brought together LTS, HMIE, National CPD and Positive Behaviours team) continues to promote and support the development of all three aspects of the parental involvement agenda, as set out in the Scottish Schools (Parental involvement) Act 2006, learning at home, home/school partnerships and parental representation. Education Scotland works with the full range of stakeholders to both increase understanding of parental involvement and to highlight good practice.

    The information you are looking for is still available on our web site in a new area dedicated to parental involvement. Here you will find information highlighting to education professionals the importance of engaging with parents, including an online CPD resource designed to help practitioners reflect on parental involvement and to develop strategies/ideas for engaging all parents and carers to become actively involved in their children’s learning.

    There are other resources available in the Communications toolkit which further support parental engagement

    In light of your post we will add links to these areas from the Building the Curriculum area of the site.

  • JoannaMurphy

    If schools ensured that all parents and children actually felt welcomed, comfortable and included in the school community it would be a start….

    Parent Councils can only work with the HT at the school involved and so it depends on their attitude to parents, their communication policy and sometimes how they feel that day.

    It is my experience that the HT can make or break parental involvement with their attitude toward it.

    Nevertheless it is important for the Parent Council to keep a high visible presence and attend all events where parents will be ie parent consultation events, options evenings, assemblies, transition meetings etc. Yes, it is hard work and generally starts with a small band of folk but it is a great start to raising awareness and trickling information down through the parent forum. It is often a thankless task but often parents are only looking for basic information and a point in the direction of parentzone for example.

  • Lorraine Sanda, Nati

    @ louise1998

    I've discussed with colleagues and they've advised me that, as you may be aware, the provision of education in Scotland is the responsibility of individual local authorities and this includes the upkeep of their school estate. It is therefore for Moray Council to consider the needs of Elgin High School. That said, the Scottish Government will shortly commence discussions to identify school projects for the third phase of the Scotland’s Schools for the Future building programme, focussing on those in the worst condition and least able to deliver the curriculum. Elgin High School will be considered as part of that process, alongside other schools which require investment. I’m afraid at this time we can't provide a timescale either for an announcement of the schools selected for the third phase or when the funding from the Scottish Government for those schools will be available.

    Lorraine Sanda, National Parental Involvement Coordinator, Scottish Government

  • johnrice


    Parental engagement/involvement is a huge problem for the schools I am familiar with unless parents feel their child is in severe difficulty or has a gripe.

    In all fairness I would have to say it isn't always entirely the fault of the school but may be largely due to the overuse of 'eduspeak' which seems to replace English as soon as the education insiders start to try to communicate with us mere mortals.

    The overuse of abbreviations and the fact sums are just not sums any more (and are done differently) and everything seems to be called something different now than it was in my day are all barriers that need to be removed.

    I know the NPFoS have been active in this area as some of us have been in our respective authorities but a lot more needs to be done.

    The poor response from many parents to letter drops, texts and websites is profoundly disheartening but we are all in this together and we just need to get on with it hoping to make a contribution toward making it easier and better.

  • T2ERL

    @David Mitchell

    Effective communication with parents is very important. The communication must also be in a way that parents want whether that is email, facebook, hard copy etc. Communication with class teachers often seems limited to notes in home work books or arranging appointments. There is no easy access to teacher email addresses.

    Many parents are now interested in the curriculum yet at secondary school the topics being covered are on some occassions not commmunicated to parents. Yes, we do ask our children but…

    How are we meant to assist or be involved in that part of our child's education if we do not know what they are doing!

    BBC reports today that too may schools are "coasting" – That is an interesting discussion.

  • catthomson

    Great to see so many people taking part in the discussion.

    I work for Enquire the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning. We provide families and professionals with advice and information about any aspect of additional support for learning. If you have a question outside of this debate, get in touch. You can phone our helpline on 0845 123 2303 or email us on

    We recently featured in our newsletter a great article written by NPFS providing tips on how parent councils can involve parents of children who have additional support needs. You can find it online at

  • normacampbell

    We saw our report card format change due to cfe, and a lot of feedback from parents did not like the new format, it was very airy fairy and did not give the parents a clear view where their child stood academically. I know our ASG are looking into this, but wonder why the need for change, I have a child in 3rd year and primary 5 and feel I knew exactly where my older child stood academically, but now I have no idea where my second child stands, I appreciate it is felt children should no longer be placed in a box but really wonder why change an education system that was working well?

  • Dr Alasdair Allan, M

    @ EdinburghCramond

    I was interested to see your comments in respect of language learning. You may wish to be aware of the Scottish Government’s commitment to “introduce a new norm for learning languages where every pupil will have the opportunity to learn 2 additional languages to their own mother tongue over 2 Parliaments.” Like all areas of education, the views of parents are very important as we take this forward. I have set up a working group to report in early 2012 on what will be needed to deliver this commitment. The National Parent Forum Scotland is represented on the group. Schools of course should take account of the views of parents and the school’s Parent Council in all areas of the curriculum.

    Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning & Skills

  • DavidMitchell

    Congratulations to all involved with the online conference- great initiative and fine example of how to reach out and provide new opportunities for parents to get involved.

    Today's question re local involvement is probably very relevant to most parents as it is the level at which most parents want to or are able to get involved. Schools are now portrayed as 'fortresses' in many areas and that in itself puts some parents off. Parents are less able to make a casual visit to make an enquiry because of the gate, fences, doorlocks, etc. that they encounter before they even get to talk to someone! I appreciate that security is important but the evidence of any wrongdoing does not support the response involving the 'locking down' of schools. School office staff are often the 1st point of contact and there should be 'customer service' training in place for them. Similar training would also be useful for teaching staff on the basis that they actually want to have regular communication with parents (and there has to be some doubt about this concept). The parent consultation evening routines are outdated and quite ineffective and this has been stated by many parents and staff over the years and needs to be addressed.

    Communication between school/parent needs to be improved e.g. method (e-mail, website, hard copy) to suit the parent, all schools to have a website ( but also provision for those without access to the web), direct communcation between class teacher and parent is very desirable but not always welcomed at present ( tends to be directed via school management or pupil support team). Tons more could be done if the right vehicle was created to gather the ideas, thoughts and suggestions of parents.

  • louise1998

    Having attended a Parent Forum meeting in Elgin High last night I was saddened to see the poor sate of repair of the building. As I understand the school has been placed in Category D with regards a recent assessment carried out by Moray Council – ie in need of urgent repair.

    I'd like to understand the mechanism and timeframe to bring schools of this standard back to a satisfactory condition and the funding (if any) being set aside by the Scottish Government.

  • terribly smith

    I have to agree with @frasershaw. My children, who are reasonably clever, are having a jolly nice time at primary school but their spelling, grammar and maths work is poor. Staff believe they’re teaching effectively in accordance with CfE and say the children are doing well. I have asked for information on targets for the classes and how standards are set and judged, but the staff can’t or won’t say. They may regard the 3 R’s as high priority but the teaching is not in sufficient depth and more class time is required to allow children to become capable and confident in these basic areas.

  • Kenneth Muir


    Thanks for your points about inspectors engaging with parent councils.

    Inspectors have always placed high importance on securing the views of parents and the parent council during inspection. Parents receive a questionnaire before an inspection and the analysis of their returns influences the activities carried out by the inspection team. Parent groups are interviewed as part of the inspection and the lay member on the inspection will always interview the chair of the parent council to get a picture from them of the wider views parents have of the school. In the new form of school inspections, inspectors have gone further in recognising the role of parents and the parent council in supporting their children’s learning by increasing the opportunities for them to talk to the inspection team and sharing the more detailed record of inspection findings after the inspection with the chair of the parent council. Further details on how parents are involved in the new inspections can be found on pages 8 and 9 in the following document which is on the Education Scotland website.

    The suggestion about Education Scotland conducting annual postal surveys with parent councils is certainly worth further consideration although it would be a significant exercise. In the meantime, parent councils should be reassured that inspectors have regular discussions with senior staff in all education authorities and part of these discussions include looking at a range of evidence to identify schools that might benefit from an inspection. From time to time, a parent or parent council writes to inspectors expressing concern about a school. When this happens, it is factored into decisions about the future inspection programme.

    Ken Muir, Chief Inspector, Education Scotland

  • Kenneth Muir

    @ terribly smith

    Thanks for your comments regarding schools teaching the "basics".

    The school curriculum today is designed to offer learners a broad and rich range of experiences, but not at the expense of the “basics” such as reading and writing. The curriculum today has an increased focus on knowledge and skills – including core skills, literacy and numeracy that underpin all learning and are critical in life.

    Literacy is one of the three areas which are the responsibility of all teachers. The others are numeracy and health and wellbeing. In recognising the importance of these “basics”, all teachers are expected to help develop and reinforce them in their teaching.

    In recognition of the importance of literacy, the Scottish Government published a Literacy Action Plan in Oct 2010 which set out its vision to raise standards of literacy from the early years to adulthood. Delivery of the plan is being taken forward by the Standing Literacy Commission and it signals the Scottish Government’s commitment to increased, more targeted focus on improving literacy skills. As well as having the aim to raise national literacy standards, the Literacy Action Plan is also designed to help break the longstanding link between poor literacy and poverty. The impact of the Literacy Action Plan will be evaluated through national performance in literacy, assessed through the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN), the first of which will take place in 2012. HM Inspectors will also evaluate the literacy skills of learners through inspections and other evaluative activities.

    Motivating learners to become genuinely lifelong learners is an important role for all teachers. The experiences and outcomes (the tools used by teachers to plan the teaching and learning) set out within Curriculum for Excellence are designed to give learners opportunities for active, challenging and enjoyable learning and develop attributes such as tenacity and a resolve to stick at a task through to completion.

    Ken Muir, Chief Inspector, Education Scotland

  • JoannaMurphy


    I feel that nursery and infant school is often regarded as babysitting for parents. When any discussion is started about raising the entrance age for school the cry goes up " but who will watch the children?" This should not be the key reason for an entrance age of 5 years.

    By all means have children in nursery style education for longer, many children are not ready for "real' school and need longer to become able to participate meaningfully, but there is no slack in the system and often these children are railroaded towards P1 regardless….

  • Joe McL

    Parents were aware of HMIE and the work they undertook and the reports they produced. The new regime will need to show parents how the work previously carried out will be enhanced for the good of pupils, parents and teachers.

    The merger of HMIE and LTS has raised some concern amongst parents who need to be satisfied that there are adequate safeguards in the new system to ensure that policies set by the LTS arm of Education Scotland can be robustly evaluated in a local school setting by the HMIE imspection arm of Education Scotland.

    The importance of parents and the evaluation of local school based parental involvement should form part of future inspections. Inspectors should meet with the Parent Council and in order to demonstrate the importance of parental involvement the head of the inspection team should meet with the Parent Council Chair to gather their views.

    The inspection should assess the effectiveness of the teaching and teachers at the school but I do not want to play to those who call for a debate on "bad teachers" as I accept that teaching, like other professions, has staff at different levels. However all staff should find their teaching methods inspected with open and honest reporting following the inspection.

    In order achieve the best outcomes for children the new regime should focus on the curriculum, how it is delivered and how effective the learning and teaching is at the school. It should examine the leadership at the school and the support management are given by Council managers and by parents.

    The new regime should have at it's heart the aim of ensuring the best educational outcomes for pupils and inspectors should strive to deliver this key aim.

  • martinwilliams

    In answer to Day 2 question.

    The HMIE should remain Independent of local authority and Government. It should point out good practice for sharing with the wider educational community.

    Where poor practice is identified it should remain 'tough' in ensuring that corrective measures are taken and this followed up, but should be supportive to the school in ensuring that necessary resources and support are in place to allow this.

  • martinwilliams

    From experience of Parent Council involvement in Edinburgh the idea of parental involvement and consultation as equal partners with the council is sadly illusory.

    There is an ironically titled 'Consultative Committee With Parents' in Edinburgh where the Council holds regular meetings with parent council reps. It is essentially a PR exercise.There is no 'consultation' and information is exchanged unidirectionally.

    This is a shame.

    Parents may not hold, or pretend to hold, teaching qualifications but come from a vastly diverse range of background and expertise, and may be able to lend useful experience at both school and district level if there were a better vehicle for this energy to be harnessed.

    I also question the rationale and capabilities of local councils to run educational matters in a country as small as Scotland where expertise is diluted. This statement made as a direct result of being involved in an extremely poorly managed 'Consultation' exercise on primary school closures in 2009 where it was clear to all and sundry (except the council obviously) that the decision had been made in advance of the consultation and the bottom line was cash not quality.

    If people had been dealt with simple respect and honesty during the process then the final outcome would have been easier to manage.

    With due respect to Mr Russell I actually would ask what the point of his position as Education Minister is, when councils can completely disregard national policy through the Concordat arrangement.

    A given example of this being lower class sizes. The SNP espoused this policy nationally in 2007 and then the local Edinburgh Lib Dem/SNP council closed schools in poorer areas in 2009 which in effect achieves the reverse.

    I personally would like politicians to be involved less in education, but as they are necessary we need a clearer line of accountability between the top and school education delivery. Councils just seem to get in the way.

    (Would love to be corrected that there is different experience elsewhere)

  • iainellis

    Daily round up

    Thanks to Mr Russell for joining in. Some interesting posts so far on how parents can be involved in decision making, and in at the beginning @T2ERL. This is one of the big achievements of the NPFS. We are now bringing a range of parents’ views to the table at the beginning of discussions such as in the Rural Schools Commission, Curriculum for Excellence Management Board, Additional Support for Learning Implementation Group, Languages Group. We can bring the parents’ view alongside that of teachers, Government and others. That is real progress for Scotland. From some of the comments, we might need to see what more we can do to help parents feel they are part of decision making in their schools and involved in the things that are important to them @richardaporter @aBlackie @JoeMcL

    Iain Ellis

    Chair NPFoS

  • iainellis

    I would like to know what you think about our children getting taught from such a young age. I feel we seem to be wanting more and more from them, starting from nursery. I can remember when nursery was all about mixing and playing with other children. Primary's now would like them to be able to write their name and count to 10.

    A few years ago my Parent Council did a report on how our children were taught through out the primary, we found that at that time our P7,s were getting taught 14 subjects and guess what so were the P1's obviously not to the same degree. What has happened to the 3 R's, surely if we give a good sounding in these a lot of the rest of the curriculum will be easier.

    I go back to my earlier comment in Norway they don't start formal teaching until about 7 years old and by the time they are 11/12 they are at the same level or above our children. WHY?

    I would like to know how flexible CfE really is, if for example an authority decided to go down the road of Norway with a trial, would they be allowed to?

    I would like to hear how other parents feel about this, so please post responses.

  • ossbilly

    A question on additional support needs.

    What more can be done to make our secondary schools more inclusive ?

    Can a parent be more involved with there school to ensure there is a good balance of Academic V Life skills for children with ASN ?

  • frasershaw

    Really Mr Russell? High quality? compared to what? How exactly are we benchmarking this quality?

    We all agree that the answer is better education – whatever the question is, but how do we ensure its getting better – by amalgamating the poacher and the gamekeeper ? Let me guess from now on everything in education will be just dandy. How can it be anything else when both the teacher and the inspector answer to the same man. Meanwhile in real terms we are heading for a position just above Uganda in world educational standards.Just because we are slightly above England is no cause for celebration. I work in Asia a lot and am always embarrassed when I see the quality and standards of education shown in simple labourers in Asian factories. Far Far too much spin on educational matters. Give parents and employers a voice and you will soon hear what the country really thinks about education. This country needs pulled up by its bootstraps – no amount of spin will help us compete against Asia – we need results.

  • T2ERL

    @Michael Russell

    First of all great to see the Cabinet secretary getting involved. Thanks for that.

    The issue of devolved school management is being taken seriously in West Lothian. We have had two meetings of head teachers and parent council chairs looking at this issue. The last meeting was organised and run as a joint session of the education authority and parents. It was an excellent example of parental involvement on an important issue. It allowed us, as parents, to get in on an issue at the beginning so that we can influence the creation of policy rather than reacting to it.

    These meetings have raised a number of interesting points with some teachers wanting the ability, for example, to go outwith the Education Authority for psychological services. What we don't want is Head teachers simply becoming estate managers. The word teacher is in their job desciption for a reason!

  • Michael Russell, Cab

    @ tonyrafferty

    Scottish Education Authorities are, on the whole, providing high quality education to our children and young people. Of course there is always room for improvement, and I am open to exploring ideas for how to do this, always with better outcomes for pupils as the goal. The publication last December of the Donaldson review "Teaching Scotland's Future" raised some useful ideas for building the professional capacity of Scottish teachers, and we are now working with partners to implement its recommendations. On a specific point, I look forward to working with COSLA in the coming months on revising the guidance for Devolved School Management following the completion of an independent review into this.

    Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning

  • iainellis

    @ richardaporter

    If I was donating money to my school out with the Parent Council I would want to know exactly where it was going. I would want this prior to handing any money over and then receive evidence that, that is what it was used for. The head teacher should be able to give you all this information.

    The accounts of the school should be made accessable to anyone who wishes to see them and all funds have to be accounted for.

    If not happy then ask your head teachers questions about the accounts and if still not happy go to your authority with your cocerns.

    Hope this helps.

    Iain Ellis

    Chair NPFoS

  • Kathryn Farrow, Chai

    @ richardaporter

    When Parent Councils decide to fundraise they have financial responsibility for both raising and spending the money. The Parent Council has a duty to report back to all parents on how it has been spent. It is good practice to issue updates on a regular basis as well as providing a full set of accounts at the AGM. Funds should be raised on the understanding that it will be spent to benefit children. Whilst the school can provide a wish list of items, the decision on whether to support these requests remains with the Parent Council. Parent Councils should not be handing over large sums of cash to the school unless they have agreed a spending plan with the school.

    Kathryn Farrow, Chair of SPION (Scottish Parental Involvement Officers Network)

  • T2ERL

    The outcomes for our children is linked to the quality of teaching. Undoubtedly there is some very high quality teaching but those who say there is no poor quality of teaching going on are in denial. Hopefully the changes being discussed by the GTC will help improve matters. Head teachers need to be strong in managing and assessing their staff. This must be hard in small schools where staff relationships must be closer.

    Children's outcomes are also improved by greater parental involvement. The challenge here is to get parents, who are not involved with their children's education, involved.

  • Blackie

    It would be good if the HMIE (or the new body) conducted annual postal surveys with parent councils. This would allow any evolving problems to be picked up early. The inspectors would be in a position to ask some more questions of the school or of the local authority, and there is always the option to bring forward a formal inspection. Schools fill out self-evaluation forms and there are staff within the authorities with a quality remit who look these over, but part of the problem with mediocre schools is the divergence between the head teacher’s view and what parents know to be happening.

  • Lorraine Sanda, Nati

    @ terribly smith

    Much of what you have referred to is what Curriculum for Excellence aims to achieve. That is why it is much more than a curriculum, but covers the whole approach to learning and teaching that will help children get the best out of their education, and best prepare them for life after school. Literacy and Numeracy are important skills for learning, life and work and this is recognised in the strong focus they are given in the guidance for schools. Its good that you can see improvement and the strong intention is that this should continue so that all our children get the best education to help them get on this challenging world we all live in today.

    Lorraine Sanda, National Parental Involvement Coordinator, Scottish Government

  • Blackie

    When LTS announced that schools needed to make a 5 year plan to change their curriculum to build towards CfE standards, they said the school community should be involved. The weblink below gives an example of how the children should be consulted. When this webpage was first posted, it contained a link to ’how parents should be consulted’ and we were invited to check back later for more details. The parent consultation area was subsequently removed and giving a very strong message.

    I think it is right that children are consulted, but it is more important that parents are consulted as we are ultimately responsible for the children. Why does LTS think that the views of children are important yet those of parents are not? Is it because they can control children’s output?

    I’d like LTS to formalise parental involvement in the review and planning process.

  • Lorraine Sanda, Nati

    Thanks to everyone for their comments on the first day of the first ever parents online conference in Scotland. Its a great opportunity provided by the NPFS to listen and learn from each other. When Scottish Government carried out its Handbook consultation earlier this year, we got some really useful insights from parents about what worked for them in terms of communication and information from their schools. Some similar comments on the discussion board here from @frasershaw @alanframe @joannamurphy. We are in the process of changing the school handbook legilsation to reflect the findings, and will also do what we can to continue to share the parental involvement messages from the report with schools and Parent Councils at every opportunity. You can see the report findings at :

    Lorraine Sanda, National Parental Involvement Coordinator, Scottish Government

  • Joe McL

    Every parent and carer wants what is best for their children, that their children are confident and feel that school is a place where there is a partnership between them and their teacher, where common aims exist to deliver the best possible learning outcomes for children.

    Priorities must be that children are educated to allow them to gain skills that they can use in school and in work and curriculum for excellence achieves this but there must be suitable safeguards in place to ensure that these aims of CfE are consistently applied across Scotland, particularly in areas where economic and / or education barriers may adversely impact on the aims.

    Parents have a crucially important role in enhancing children's learning experiences and this is generally accepted by those charged with educating our children, assisted in some way by the introduction of CfE. Parents should be involved in driving change and successful Parent Councils help deliver this change however what mechanisms are in place to ensure that all Parent Councils are offered the opportuinity to be involved in producing new / revised local school based policies. I believe that a successful forward facing school is one where teachers, the Parent Council and the Pupil Council work together and I know from experience that this delivers successful outcomes and makes those involved feel valued.

  • EdinburghCramond

    If Change is the only sign of life, I don't see much life in the schools around me! I agree with JoannaMurphy on the essence of soundly delivered CfE but the schools around me are not willing to change, in our view, for the better. Let me give an example

    At Primary school, at the beginning of P6 our children based on P6A or B are given French or German, no choice, no child-centric learning. Based on this coin-toss they will major in either of these languages to their first secondary qualification. That's not the spirit of CfE

    So for two years we have attempted to change this for the better, different language options appear to be a step too far, so if it is DE/FR how about one year of each P6/7 then an informed choice at S1? All feeder primaries to the High School agree that this makes sense.

    That's when the often shunned HMIE becomes the champion – quoted back to us are "two years are best practice as recommended by HMIE" and so on, ultimately a defence against making any change. We have asked for a consultation, we have asked for a long term view but to date the answer is simply No!

    How do we empower Parent Councils to make policy changes, we are positive, supportive and attempting to find a win-win but we don't really have any power.

  • richardaporter

    Can we have more transparency and open government where parent’s donations and fundraising go. Parents are asked to cover the cuts made by our local government by fundraising; however no legal details are required where our money actually goes. Can we follow other areas of government and publish at the end of each year an account from each school, showing where our money is spent? We don’t need info regarding wages, buildings just our donated moneys. That way when Parents are asked to contribute towards schooling maybe more parents will be willing to help. The school handbook only gives information about LA moneys to school. PC contribute towards a given project and can work with the school on what is required, other donations from individual parents can go anywhere – spent anywhere.

  • iainellis

    I would like to thank everyone who has taken part on the first day of the National Parents Forum of Scotland on-line conference, it is good to see the wide range of subjects being raised, from parents all across Scotland and can I extend a very warm welcome to Elaine Crowle from Parents Victoria in Australia. This shows how parents from all over the world can come together and have common interests in their childrens education.

    I am looking forward to reading all comments for the rest of the week.

    Thanks for taking part.

    Iain Ellis

    Chair NPFoS

  • JoannaMurphy

    My priorities for my children are that they are confident in their abilities, always make their best effort, are able to make decisions for themselves, make friends and enjoy their schooldays.

    If they pick up some qualifications along the way so much the better, but I feel that a happy, well balanced, emotionally secure child is more important than a hot housed individual…..

    I think that parents can best contribute by becoming involved in their child's education in what ever way they can….homework, clubs within school, volunteering on trips, active learning and generally showing an interest in the actual child..

    Parent Councils should be questioning the plans being implemented at all stages of CfE. Parent Councils can help spread knowledge of CfE and help solve any local difficulties in conjunction with the school.

  • AnActualTeacher

    Jane Stork- to a great extent it depends upon your LEA, and those decisions are made on the basis of cost rather than educational need – more National 4/5 subjects means the need for more teachers/ classrooms /computers/ lighting/ heating etc etc. One interesting wheeze thought up by some LEAs is the idea of 'vertical classes'- sounds whizzy and exciting and actually means teaching National 5 to large classes ( 25- 30+ to be viable) of fast -tracked S3s, and S4, 5 and 6 students. It's going to be an interesting challenge to provide individualised learning for all those pupils and how many will remain motivated by the hard core minority of S4/5 (and possibly even some S6) who are only staying on to claim EMA and avoid employment they don't like the look of. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but I've seen the curriculum models and it's not looking good.

  • AnActualTeacher

    I'm writing here as a parent as well as a teacher – and one foot in both camps is always potentially unstable!

    * I think Tony Rafferty has made an excellent point about Local Authorities – mine has certainly maintained an antagonistic and dictatorial approach to both teachers and parents and there is little redress.

    *With regard to Alan Frame's comments I would hope that effective teachers would not be resistant to parental help BUT at the very least Child Protection issues make it a protracted period before parents could be directly involved in support in a lesson. With regard to composite classes this is a result of staff shortages caused by Local Authority budget cuts – it's NOT the teachers' fault and they will be doing the best they can under trying circumstances.

    *I would hazard a guess that parents@sptc is correct that "there is huge variance around Scotland in how parents are welcomed and engaged" BUT "parents are often seen as a threat, or a least a Pandora’s box!" That statement may be based on some accurate observation of parent behaviour. Parents can be verbally aggressive, unreasonable and downright unrealistic (one of my favourites was a parent who demanded that their child, who had done well to achieve a L4 at Standard Grade should be entered for a Higher after one year despite being offered the course over two years, despite failing all three NABs repeatedly – the Local Authority caved in, the student failed and all the tax payers picked up the tab! This happens more often that you would credit.) BUT they are concerned about their children and that is not always recognised.

    *I think frasershaw articulates the concern of many parents – Secondary teachers are still coming to grips with a poorly thought out, badly supported and poorly articulated curriculum. This is made even worse by the use of the SQA (an organisation with a varying reputation for effective communication and planning) to deliver the examination curriculum for National 4, 5 etc. Frasershaw is not joking, teaching staff are tearing their hair out trying to prepare to begin teaching subjects in Summer 2012 that are still little more that SQA wish lists.

    *As a parent I am hugely concerned that my youngest child has been a guinea pig for CfE at the Secondary level and will be a guinea pig for national qualifications too. I think that every parent with a child currently in S2 should ask searching question of their schools to understand the breadth of the problem and then focus on the real problem – Local Authorities, the SQA and the politicians.

  • Tom Renwick

    The 'how' of Curriculum for Excellence in conjunction with the 'what' of the 5-14 levels (at least for numeracy) – it's sorted!

  • T2ERL

    @Lorraine Sanda, National Parental Involvement Coordinator

    Thanks for your reply. Schools should be encouraged to add the Key terms and Features factfiles to their websites to make them more accessible.

  • JaneStork

    I am the chair of the PC of a high school in Angus. Angus has opted to allow children to sit 6 National 5s that will come in with the new CfE for the current S2. Many of our parents are concerned since other LEAs on our borders seem to be going for 8. Naturally there is a worry that Angus children will be unfairly disadvantaged. Can anyone pls advise why there is such a wide spectrum of choice here and why isn't the some national policy? Maybe there is and we just don't know about it? What are employers/Further education establishments thinking about this and the new exam diet as a whole? Any answers or more info would be most welcome.

  • frasershaw


    My eldest has just started Uni – and I can't believe how easy its become to help her. All the course work is laid out online with downloadable documents – showing exactly whats being taught and how it will be assessed or examined along with contact emails- could not be clearer. Now compare that with the experience still being delivered at secondary school – teachers don't know what they are teaching or how it will be examined there is ZERO online information and no way of contacting the teacher – Again and again I have to ask some teachers or spend ages trying to figure out " what are you actually trying to teach here"? Its an absolute scandal. If you agree with me have your say here.

  • tonyrafferty

    @ Alan Frame

    As the Aberdeen Rep for NPFS and Chair of the Aberdeen City parent Council Forum, I would be happy to explore your observations with you. You can contact me at

  • parents@sptc

    Alan Frame – couldn't agree more. At the moment there is huge variance around Scotland in how parents are welcomed and engaged. Although there is clear evidence about the value of parental involvement, parents are often seen as a threat, or a least a Pandora's box! It comes down to attitude – the challenge surely is to press local authorities and schools harder on this agenda while spreading good practice and encouraging parents to ask the question.

  • terribly smith

    I’d like more of the basics. I know that children have to be prepared for a fast changing world etc but this makes a firm grounding in the 3 R’s all the more important. It seems that a child who can write 10 pages is praised even if the spelling is bad and the sentences don’t read well. As a parent of young kids, more than anything, I want them to be able to spell, articulate themselves in a proper way and have a good grasp of numbers. I look at a lot of CVs and today’s school leavers have a poor understanding of the English language. Only 10% seem to know how to string a sentence together. You’ll think I’m old fashioned, but a good grasp of the basics is differentiating. Young people also seem to have a mentality where they give up the minute they have to do something they don’t think is highly interesting to them. Schools need to be teaching tenacity, and training kids to get their heads down and get on with it. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of what’s happening in the classroom is a big improvement on my day but there needs to be some connection with the real world.

  • AlanFramePrimaryPare

    I’m a parent of primary school children.

    I would like to see more conversation between staff and parents about what school is trying to achieve educationally. I have no career experience in education, yet I can clearly see where the weak points lie in the education the children are receiving. Staff seem reluctant to consider parents’ observations because we are untrained and don’t understand.

    In our school, I’d say pupils are behind with maths and, with a composite class to hinder, the teacher is struggling to get round those who need help. This slows class progress. Children are reluctant to ask for help in case of an ‘I’m busy with another group’ rebuttal. Parents are willing to help in class during these lessons but staff are resistant.

    Parents are an untapped educational resource and I’d like schools to be guided in how they can use parents in a more meaningful way than making jammy tarts for the school fayre. When the Parental Involvement Act came in, I don’t think teachers realised that there was a new objective in their jobs. In my experience, they pay lip service and tick a box. I believe school could achieve a lot more with the resources they have – they just have to recognise them and take a chance by moving a little out of their comfort zone.

  • tonyrafferty

    (on behalf of my wife and I) we as parents of a 7 year old girl need to be reassured that some common sense management regarding behaviour is practised by all schools. Making children frightened to do what normal children do, does not help their learning experience. e.g. school runs a weekly behaviour scheme. red face = parents to see head teacher. orange face = must try harder. green face = keep up the good work. Two 7 year old children who over the course of a week have one episode of the giggles in class, (confirmed by head teacher) are awarded an orange face for the week. Just one step away from dumb insolence, being back on statute books. Lets ensure our children learn happily not in fright.

  • tonyrafferty

    Would Mr Russell like to see any improvements in his time in office to the way that schools are managed by Local Authorities in Scotland ?

  • ossbilly

    Yes the challenge is to get the information to parents and the correct information.

    Yes that is a challenge getting the right information and having it avalible at schools.

    For me as a parent with a child with additional support needs I need to know that the school and local authority are doing everything they can to support his needs be that in how his education is delivered or simpley how he gets round the school I have found that being able to approach the teacher or headteacher anytime I have a query or concern is very Helpfull and important I can say that this is the case for us but am aware that it is not the case for others which then puts a great deal of stress on the parents and in most cases the child dose not get the support they need and there progress begins to suffer.

    Going back to the question it is important to have good communication with all involved with our children and having the right information.

  • T2ERL

    Prioity for schools, especially secondaries has to be the Curriculum for Excellence. There is still to little information being given to parents. Many second year students will be making choices in just a few months time and students and parents need more information about the course content and structure for the senior phase.

    The factfiles are very useful but too little people even know they exist. On too many occassions these documents are not making their way down to parents. Parent Councils can assist with the distribution of the factfiles.

    • Lorraine Sanda, Nati

      @T2ERL Thanks for your comments.

      Schools are currently planning how they will structure their senior phase to best meet the needs of their learners and local circumstances. This means that there will be a range of different ways in which schools deliver their senior phase, and parents should speak directly to their child's school about the details of their plans. A number of examples showing how the senior phase could be delivered, together with illustrations of a range of different learner journeys for each model, have been published on the Parentzone website at the following link:…. These examples have been developed by individual schools and have been made available to support understanding about how the senior phase might look.

      In relation to the factfiles, we are aware that these often aren't reaching parents and other key stakeholders and are currently looking at what more we can do to promote them better and make them more widely available. As part of this work, we have just re-printed the CfE – Key Terms and Features factfile and are distributing copies (as you suggest) to all Parent Councils and head teachers this week, as well as making multiple copies available at the National Parent Forum of Scotland's (NPFS) conference on CfE this Saturday for delegates to take away and use in their own contexts. If you have other suggestions for how we might get awareness of the factfiles across better to a wider audience please contact, the Scottish Government's CfE communications manager, who would be happy to hear from you.

      Lorraine Sanda, National Parental Involvement Coordinator, Scottish Government

  • IanMaxwell

    Parental involvement can be a challenge for a parent who is separated and not the main carer of the child/ren. Around a third of Scottish families are in this position, mostly fathers..

    Families Need Fathers Scotland have been studying how Scottish schools maintain contact with both parents in separated families.

    We have found some very good practice as well as some local authorities who seem to make no attempt to stay in touch with the "non-resdident" parent.

    Our study and recommendations will be published later this year – we would like to hear from parents and schools who have experience of this issue. Contact us at if yiu have comments or want to see the study when it is published.

    Ian Maxwell, National Development Manager, FNF Scotland

    • Lorraine Sanda, Nati


      Thanks for your comment Ian. Parental Involvement can indeed be challenging. In the case of non-resident parents, the Parental Involvement Act and Guidance recognizes the important role that all parents can have in supporting their child’s education, including those who do not live with their children.

      All Authorities should have arrangements, outlined in their Parental Involvement Strategy, which cover the different circumstances that parents find themselves in. See the Section C, para 18 (… ). I would be interested in the results of your study when it is published, if you would be kind enough to send it to me.

      Lorraine Sanda, National Parental Involvement Coordinator, Scottish Government

  • RobinBate

    As a former Moray House student and a student of Steiner teaching methods I would like to say how glad i am the curriculum for excellence is the framework for Secondery eduction. I think a distinction can be made for years 1 and 2 at secondery form years 3 to 6. The former is very much lower school and the latter upper school, when subjects are chosen and exams sat.

    Also think extending curriculum for excellene into primary would show that fromal education at 5 is too early as child brain is not developed enough beyond the copy approach to learning with the actual learning stating around 6 1/2 years old. Having the Nursery/Kindergarten run from 3 1/2 to 6 1/2 gives teachers and excellent opportunity to foster the social skills of children and their skills in the use of their imagination, 2 skills very much needed for a society to continue to develop and to be socially cohesive.

  • elainecrowle

    Greetings to Scottish parents from fellow parents in Victoria, Australia. We have been running online conferences since 2007 and find they are a terrific way for parents to discuss educational issues 24/7. I hope to join your discussions over the next few days. Our very good wishes for your online forum and National Conference.

    Elaine Crowle

    Immediate Past President

    Parents Victoria

  • tonyrafferty

    Now that the opportunity presents itself, how about some simple, practical measures within this tenure of Government. Measures that will find favour far and wide. vis-à-vis. Standardise School / Public Holidays throughout Scotland. Independent bodies to manage / redefine education authorities?

  • T2ERL

    Looking forward to the discussions.

  • BobCreeHay

    Looking forward to being able to participate in the daily dialogue leading up to the main event.

  • kiranjoza

    While you're waiting for this forum to go live on Monday 26 September, here is a starter question from a parent: what do other parents think about Glow and their access and use of it? Is it available to you, to your child, to other parents in your area?