The National Parent Forum of Scotland




Welcome to the National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) online discussion.

Ahead of their third annual conference on October the 6th (register free here), the NPFS are hosting an online discussion all this week (1-5 October) for parents and others here on Engage for Education.

They’ll be kicking off with questions around key educational topics of interest to parents including Curriculum for Excellence and the  NPFS, Scottish Government Ministers and officials, Education Scotland and SQA will respond and contribute to the debate.

Discussion is open to all parents and carers and others who have an interest in contributing. Join in, and encourage parents to do so, all this week on  Engage.  There will also be short polls each day on our Facebook page.

“This is the second year that Engage has hosted an online debate leading up to the NPFS conference. Last year’s debate was a great success and I hope that as many parents and carers as possible can take part and contribute to the discussions this year. I would also hope to see as many of you as possible at our third annual conference at Bishopbriggs Academy this Saturday. We have new workshops this year just for children, as well as parents workshops and seminars available throughout the day covering different aspects of CfE implementation and new National Qualifications.”

Iain Ellis, Chair of the National Parent Forum of Scotland

Day 1: 1 October 

There is loads of evidence that shows that when you engage well with parents, children do better and you can raise attainment of children.  Particularly for those children who need it most.  What should the Scottish Government and Local Authorities be doing to recognise the value of engaging with parents around learning, and how should this be reflected more consistently across all of Scotland?  Please share good and bad practices. 

Tell us what you think by submitting your comment below!

#NPFS12 – Discussion: Day 2 – Curriculum for Excellence
#NPFS12 – Discussion: Day 3 – Transitions.
#NPFS12 – Discussion: Day 4 – Additional Support for Learning.
#NPFS12 – Discussion: Day 5 – ICT.

Useful links:
Be at the heart of your child’s learning
A quick guide to Curriculum for Excellence

Have your say

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

  • Cruz Vannuck

    Thank you, but i must say that there are a few things i dont agree with. Thanks

  • Ramiro Delacuesta

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  • alice

    My daughter's secondary school hosted Bring your Parent to school days which allowed the parent and child to attend a lesson together to get a flavour of what your child would be experiencing. Again a bit more out of the box thinking is needed.


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  • Helen

    What should the Scottish Government and Local Authorities be doing to recognise the value of engaging with parents around learning? Well for a start making sure that schools are actually communicating with their parents. You cannot expect to get parents enthusiastically beating a path to your door if you never tell them what you are doing. I am a Chair of a Parent Council (second year in post after two years as vice chair) and I am losing the will to live to try to get the school to communicate what they are doing to the parent community. There was a letter came home just before the Easter holidays this year and I thought wow – but no it was just a reminder about school uniform! And the recent Standard and Quality Report was four and a half sides of A4 mainly filled with jargon. Looking at other Standards and Quality Reports from schools in the same authority these schools seem to have taken the opportunity to report more interestingly about what the school has been doing over the previous year. My view is that schools should be required to produce a parent newsletter every term – telling parents what the school has been doing and what is coming up in the following term. That way schools who currently fail in this regard would have it as a must do. Then if parents feel more included in the school community they might then feel more interested in getting involved – or even see an opportunity for involvement.

  • Alistair Todd

    The opportunity to use a national IT link such as GLOW for teaching pupils, training and updating teachers, supplying lessons, topics or even whole courses for less popular subjects and in remote and rural areas is being missed at present. Expanding the range and diversity of GLOW facilities is overdue, straightforward to implement and will benefit pupils, teachers and parents

  • Marie Fitzpatrick

    Following on from my earlier post………here’s my idea: Take a 2 hour slot within the in-service day at the beginning of the first (or even better, every) term. Have each teacher meet with the parents of their class collectively. Share (IN PLAIN ENGLISH) what the learning objectives are for the year/term; what projects they will be working on etc. Have a discussion on how parents can help, with the teacher sharing hints, tips and resources to take away on supporting homework. Explain what additional support is available. Invite parent to offer ideas and ask if they have any skills/experience or resources they are willing to share. Make the session welcoming and interactive. This would build trust and co-operation and in the long term could be transformational. This is just one straightforward suggestion that is highly do-able, I could come up with more. So instead of talking about the ‘topic’ of parental involvement, we need to really focus on practical ways of making it happen – by actually doing stuff together.

  • Marie Fitzpatrick

    Sheena and other similar posts from educationalists make valid and laudable points but notice how often the learning and sharing opportunities mentioned in the posts are about informing what the school are doing – often retrospectively, not what we can do as parents. We need more than ‘window shopping’ engagement, albeit this has some value. I identified with Joanna, Joan and Mairi’s comments on homework and shared learning. It shouldn’t take a great deal of thinking ‘out of the box’ for highly trained professional teachers to improve parents awareness of the role they can play and building our capability to support our children’s learning – and in doing so, support them in doing their job. So, I have a practical suggestion to get them started (within primary school context). I'm having difficulty with submitting this because of length, so if interested see my next post……

  • Joanna Murphy

    re: parental involvement….I think that schools miss a trick with the promoting "easy" things for parents do do at home to help their child. A survey reported yesterday in the papers shows that less than a third of parents read to their child. I had forgotten how nice it is to do so and my youngest daughter has developed an intense desire to read herself since we started reading each night at bedtime. I myself have enjoyed the one-to-one time at the end of a busy day where all other stresses can be put aside for 15 minutes. Unfortunately it is too easy to leave kids in front of the TV and often the basic skills are lost…Maybe schools and Parent Councils could start a campaign to re-invent these "lost" pastimes……

  • Joanna Murphy

    I don't have much experience of dealing with ASL needs but my friends say the service is patchy at best….waiting times for diagnoses are often horrific and some of them were forced to go private to obtain formal notice of what they suspected and so that they could then access the services to which they were entitled.
    Unfortunately there is a large number of young people needing the various services on offer and budget cuts must be having an impact…

  • Ioana Di Mambro

    I went to school in a different country and we used to have one manual and one or more jotters for each subject we studied. These always stayed with the pupils so the parents would know exactly what their children did at school on a daily basis and also enabled them to help them with any issues they might have. It also gave a clear picture of the curriculum thanks to the manuals, which printed everything a child was expected to know at the end of the school year.

    For instance, our Math teacher would teach a multiplication table.The manual would clearly state the objectives of the lesson,the method used to teach that particular table,then would contain a few pages of exercises and problems in order to consolidate that knowledge. Some would be solved in the classroom and the rest at home.
    This enabled the parents to be constantly up to date and monitor their children's progress.
    At the beginning of each Math class we would have 10 minutes of rapid mental exercises (sums,substractions,multiplications,divisions). I strongly agree with the comment about going back to basics and teach Arithmetics in primary school,I am still using that knowledge today.

    I was very frustrated for not being able to have the same amount of involvement as a parent when my child started primary school. He would come home and I would ask how school was that day and he would say "Fine!" -:) Try and squeeze more out,mission impossible most of the time. Does it sound familiar to you,dear parents?

    I had raised the question with the school at parents evenings over the past years, one of the teacher actually asked me why I wanted to know everything since my son had no issues at school whatsoever. This is lucky,indeed but what if he did? How would I be able to help?

    I am particularly pleased with the quality and quantity of homework he brings home this year.His P4 teacher has given them homework jotters for Math,Language and Guided reading and this is great! My child has become very interested in the aspect of his homework for the simple reason that it is no longer on an A4 size loose sheet of paper.-:)
    They also have a choice in choosing their weekly spelling words based on their difficulty and he always picks the most difficult ones to learn because he finds them challenging.
    Their present topic is Ancient Egypt and the teacher split them in groups and asked them to make a Power Point presentation about a God at their choice. Again, very good approach, they have to research on line, use books etc ,talk about their findings with the rest of the group then decide what goes in the presentation.

    So I think there are pros and cons with this cfe that everybody can't stop talking about -:) Sometimes people who make the rules, generally speaking, not necessary in education have little or no experience in that field and this is when what they think would work best is not necessarily right in the real world. But this is just my opinion. -:)

    Thank you for reading.

    • @kiranjoza

      Apart from the questioning over why you would want to know about your child's schooling, it sounds like you have a progressive and positive school. Congratulations!

  • D Smith


    I agree with resources also being targeted to pupils that need help and encouragement, but all too often this is the bottom end of a class. This might come as a surprise to some, but "Not all animals are equal" and the ones at the top end need stretched and attention too. You want pupils to be the best but that does indeed mean competition and that some will be naturally better or worse than others.

    I also think there is still too much emphasis on excellence at sport in schools. Sport is only a small part of the curriculum and yet is means to carry a lot of ‘Kudos’ and associated prizes. Why?

    What happened to academic excellence or is that not a large part of CFE??

    • @kiranjoza

      I agree. School prize giving should also showcase the academically excellent as well as the sports achievers. Perhaps this is something to discuss with your HT?

  • D Smith

    Well said. I particularly like the part about being the envy of the world again and I don't see CFE so far, as delivering anything like the standards from the 60-70's. Maybe we all need to return to basics, such as Maths, English and Arithmetic and put the time in to teach it. They are fundamental to life and living in the big outside world. Having a broad knowledge and spectrum is really like a jack of all trades and master of none. To be technologically innovative, you must have the tools and in particular the basics.

    The flowery part about CFE is also true. It needs more foundation / essentials and musts. Maybe, questions need to also be asked about are the teachers really in a position to teach anymore, instead of allowing pupils to 'learn' things. Make pupils use jotters and not whiteboards / Screens. You can't take the screen home to revise it and you don't print it off. Do the pupils really understand the topic or are they getting by?

    • @kiranjoza

      If pupils could take screens home, eg with tablets or mobile phones as their always available device, and screens/IWB were only the projection of their device screen, would that help?

      Similarly, instead of printing from the whiteboard, what if the results were posted to the class' space in Glow, so they could access at any time, would that help?

      Or what is the audio and video during the class, along with the whiteboard diagram being drawn over time, could be replayed and commented on, would that help the pupils learn, retain information and also create new ideas that might otherwise languish in the jotters?

      • D Smith

        I think anything that gives pupils a chance to have a permanent reference that they can use to study or implement / use the knowledge will work. One issue with technology is that not all pupils have access to tablets, laptops (yet!). The use of IT systms such as the net can be transient as things move and don't always stay up-to-date. Indeed, we should not beliveve everything we see and read on the 'net.

  • Balornock Primary PC

    LA are using GLOW for pupils to access homework and other web tools in their home. Why has this been left to LA to manage the infrastructure within the school? Pupils can access in school and at home (if the parent has access) why is the Scottish Government not taking the lead with IT in all schools. Some LA are refusing to spend cash to ensure their children have access to this service. Pupils & Parents in these LA's are getting less access to services which can help home learning.

  • Richard Porter

    I would like to see the wearing of uniforms in school being discussed by the political parties in Scotland. My school Parent Council arranged a questionnaire to all parents and around 98% asked for the school to promote the wearing of the uniform. We were told by the head teacher that she cannot enforce the wearing of uniforms due to the lack of legislation in Scotland. Whilst we already were aware of this, why cannot schools where the majority of parents wish uniforms to be worn be allowed to inforce this?

    • Support & Wellbeing

      Thank you for your comment. It is up to local authorities and individual schools to decide on and set their own school uniform policies in consultation with parents. We would suggest in this case that the Parent Council discuss their wishes with the headteacher.

      Support and Wellbeing Unit, Scottish Government

      • Richard Porter

        tell me something new! It is time the Scottish Governement stopped hiding behind LA's when it suits them.

    • Marie Fitzpatrick

      Richard – if 98% of parents are in favour of school uniforms why can’t they take personal responsibility for making it happen instead of expecting the school to enforce this??? As for asking politicians to get involved – surely, you can't be serious?

  • G M

    When you find your child is perhaps not grasping the a particular topic , it is important for teachers to be supportive. Unfortunately I am finding that the school will presently prefer parents to not raise concerns…not ask the questions…and not be active or interested. This is impacting on standards and services to our children. What is the norm ?

  • Mairi Greenshields

    My children’s primary school has Shared Home Learning 3 months a year. Homework for those months consists of a variety of tasks, some compulsory, most optional. In the past these have included (to name but a few), building a model Anderson shelter, learning colours in another language, writing the shopping list for the family, visiting a museum as a family, learning how to work the washing machine, writing a book report and finding out how much water is used in the house over the course of a week.

    I find these so much more rewarding and interesting than the usual spelling, reading, times tables and so on.

    I also think transition is important. My daughter’s secondary school hosted Bring your Parent to school days which allowed the parent and child to attend a lesson together to get a flavour of what your child would be experiencing. Again a bit more out of the box thinking is needed.

  • Tina Woolnough

    Good relationships are usually made between parents and educational establishments during the early years and primary. All kinds of parents – those who didn't like school themselves and those who loved it – engage when their children start school. There are countless examples of good practice – welcoming, hospitable engagement around the learning and the activities/events that embody this learning (fun, enjoyable, always child-centred). So what happens when children go to secondary school? And how can the goodwill that usually exists at the start of nursery/school be sustained so that parents don't give up, either on their children's learning, or on school in the secondary stage? It is not about transition entirely – it is about creating a welcoming space for parents within and throughout the secondary school experience and sustaining the relationship when the going gets tough. It is also ironic that if your child is unlikely to do well academically at school, you as a parent are more likely to disengage. So we have to examine the educational offering that is being made to non-academic children. Too many schools are too traditional – and not inclusive in the subjects that they offer.

  • Joanna Murphy

    I think that Local Authorities should be trying to ensure that all children reap the benefit of more innovative homework. It is too easy to just answer questions or finish the exercise in the book. This year, for the first time since P1, my P5 daughter has a teacher thinking out of the box…my husband and daughter have spent the last week making a Viking Longboat for this term's topic which has entertained them both and has meant so much ore than just looking at pictures in books etc. I appreciate that not every child is able to access this level of support but I feel that the message should be more firmly sent by LAs to schools to at least vary homework and try to involve parents or other members of the extended family. Much good work is going on in school but it is not carried through to the home environment. Parents are more likely to become involved with their own child in their own home and once engaged in this way on a regular basis could more easily move to becoming involved in other ways.

    • Joan Mackay

      Joanna. I had a wee smile picturing the scene around and about the making of the Viking Longboat. There is something, though, in the phrase you used – "entertained them both" – that we could usefully reflect on when we talk about engaging parents in children's learning. Does the quality and type of home learning on offer need to take as much account of how it will engage parents as it does about engaging children? Joan

      • Marie Fitzpatrick

        Absolutely, I agree – there should be value for both. Coincidently, building a viking longboat was one of the most enjoyable projects we shared as a family. We still have it 5 years later!

  • Kenneth Muir

    (continued…) The website also has a number of improvement guides. These cover a range of topics designed to help schools think about how they move from being a good school to an excellent school. Two of particular note are on "Developing parents' support for their children's learning" and "Active involvement of parents in school activities".

    The link below takes you directly to the video clips and improvement guides.

    Best wishes

    Kenneth Muir
    HM Chief Inspector of Education

  • Kenneth Muir

    Education Scotland has brought together a wide number of best practice examples of how schools and EAs engage with parents around learning. Our "Journey to Excellence" website contains video clips of best practice and interviews showing some of what is happening already in this area. The short video clips are designed to encourage sharing of the best practice more widely across schools and EAs. Schools and EA officers use this website regularly to support continuing professional development amongst staff in schools but, increasingly, are using some of the clips with parents and parents councils. Currently, there are over 30 such video clips ranging from an expert who talks about how parents/carers can foster a climate that helps children and young people to develop their ability to think to one primary school got parents, staff and pupils all on board for their journey to excellence.

    (continued below…)
    Kenneth Muir
    HM Chief Inspector of Education

  • Debbie Newlands

    Curriculum for Excellence has certainly got parents attention over the last few years and has made more parents aware about the changes in education. It also encourages parents to engage more with their childs learning and with school life.
    The Scottish Government and Local Authoirities are recognising that parental engagement and consultation is the best way forward and has a huge impact on childrens learning. Parents need to be made more aware that their voice is important and that communication through schools, Parent Councils, National Parent Forum of Scotland and Local Authorities should be encouraged. If we can improve communication through all these links then a more consistent approach would be adopted Nationally.
    A good step forward would be to come along to the National Parent Forums Conference in Bishopbriggs this weekend and see all the fabulous work thats going on. Look forward to meeting you there.

  • tony rafferty

    Wii ministers give consideration to taking education out of council control and stop our children being subject to political posturing

  • Tina Woolnough

    Fair points, but actually when little S1s cross the threshold into secondary school, the vast, vast majority want their parents there and involved. Secondary schools tell new S1 parents that their children might not want them involved and so the myth goes on…The 'don't embarrass me' stage kicks in during S2 and into S3. By S4 and certainly S5, young people seem to accept that they do have parents and that in fact they are, on the whole, lucky to have ones that care. They also realise that everyone else is embarrassed by their parents.
    My tips are: start volunteering in high school early in S1, then your children get used to you as part of the 'furniture' of high school. They are also interested in which teachers you have spoken to, and you can talk about school reasonably knowledgeably, or at least you are learning together. Our high school operates a fantastic paired reading scheme – parents come into the library and support different classes and pupils with reading, especially useful for those children with literacy difficulties. I had one friend whose teenager berated her for taking too much interest in her school work and then, when the parent stopped asking, berated the parent for not taking any interest and thereby 'causing' her exam results! Parents definitely can't win in the eyes of their teenagers, so we might as well please ourselves and get involved if we want to get involved!

  • Marie Fitzpatrick

    Disappointingly, this is a typical politician’s response – re-stating policy without adding to the debate. Tony, and the rest of us, are pretty aware now of what the objectives of CfE are and that current responsibility lies with the LA’s to deliver this. It would have been useful therefore for Michael to explain why this is the preferred model of delivery. What would be the effect of changing it? In what way would CfE objectives be impacted? Could no other model meet these effectively, and if not why? And so on. I’m not arguing one way or the other, I’d just like to see a better quality response please that would add value to this online discussion.

  • Marie Fitzpatrick

    Well said Tina, I agree that if you get involved early on then it's more likely to be accepted that you are doing it for the right reasons and be less of a big deal. So starting in Nursery/Primary is even better. Be there throughout their journey. It takes effort and commitment but we do this with all other aspects of their lives. You're also right that we can't win in the eyes of teenagers (and I take comfort from knowing I'm not alone in this experience!) but when they are older, hopefully our children will look back, recognise and appreciate what we've done – and make for better parents themselves when it's their turn to suffer….oops I meant engage!

  • D Smith

    Or, indeed, letting it become a furtehr postcode lottery based on local council. With further council cuts coming, this is needs reviwed constantly. Implementing CFE will have a cost. How can thsi be borne at Local Council level with cuts pending. As it said in the 80's (during Univ cuts), if you think education is expensive, …try ignorance.