Developing a Strategy

These materials were adapted from Parents as Partners in their Children’s Learning produced by The Scottish Government, Crown Copyright 2006.

Developing a strategy for parental involvement can help to:

  • Promote the involvement of parents in the education provided by the school to their child and to students generally at their child's school
  • Give advice and information to parents
  • Promote Parent Advisory Councils and support their operation
  • Take account of the needs of all families
  • Consider how the strategy will promote equal opportunities
  • Include a complaints procedure in respect of the District's functions under the Act.

 

The following checklist is based around two key issues: the school's role in promoting parental involvement in school education; and parents' capacity to support children's education and engage effectively with schools.

Effective parental involvement is the joint responsibility of professionals and parents. The questions are designed to help develop an appropriate strategy for parental involvement and to support parents' involvement in the development and review of that strategy.

Files

PDF file: Activity - questions to help you develop a strategy (44 KB)

Word file: Activity - questions to help you develop a strategy (60 KB)

Click for Top of Page

Timeframe for Developing a Strategy

AimsTasksTime frame (suggestions)
Identifying issues
  • Inform parents and schools what is happening and how they can contribute.
  • Hold open discussions to gather views on what the main issues and priorities are for your area. (See examples)
  • Arrange support for parents who may need this to contribute effectively, eg because of disabilities, or where English is not their first language.
  • Involve relevant staff and keep them updated.
  • Think about how to involve students, eg involve the school's parent council.
  • Tell other people in your local community who have an interest.
6-10 weeks
Writing the draft strategy
  • Set up a working group to develop a draft strategy for consultation.
  • Working group can comprise of school staff and parents. Continue to offer practical support for parents taking part.
  • Build in examples of parents being involved that have worked well in your district.
  • Involve appropriate parent or community groups to ensure that a broad range of experiences and ideas contribute to the strategy.
4-8 weeks
Consulting on the draft
  • Share the revised draft strategy with the parent advisory council and finalize it.
  • Obtain approval from the education committee for the strategy.
6-8 weeks
Communicating the strategy
  • Hold events for people to hear about it. Get publicity for it.
  • Get copies into places that are easily accessible for parents; have summary versions available in different formats and languages.
  • Organize publicity in local newspapers.
  • Obtain approval from the education committee for the strategy.
Launch event and ongoing
Implementing the strategy
  • Help the schools to think about how they can implement the strategy. Hold a session for staff and parents to look at how the strategy can help promote good partnerships in your school.
  • Encourage the parent council to think about how the strategy can be useful to them and promote a good partnership with the school.
Ongoing with specific targets included in planning
Reviewing the strategy
  • Work in partnership as issues/points arise.
  • Make the links with the ongoing involvement of all parents on a day-to-day basis and the ongoing review.
  • Invite staff and parents to take part in a regular review.
  • Involve the Parent Council, staff and students in what you are updating.
Suggest every 2-3 years?
Click for Top of Page

Managing Complaints

No matter how strong partnerships are, or how good strategies and policies are, things can still go wrong. It is important therefore to have clear arrangements in place so that staff and parents can resolve issues together, with support if necessary.

In order to maintain positive relationships, it is usually better for all parties if parental complaints/concerns can be resolved at school level as quickly as possible. How you learn from complaints, and make improvements as a result of complaints, says a lot about your school.

SD61 POLICY 1155 - Complaint Process for a Resolution of Concerns

The purpose of this Complaint Process is to ensure that any individual’s concern will be given respectful attention while upholding the integrity of the educational system. The attendant regulations provide clear procedures for the communication and resolution of any concern held by members of our Educational Community. The Educational Community includes parents, students, all Greater Victoria School District employees and members of the public.

School Principals shall communicate the procedures, outlined in the attendant regulation, to their students, staff, and parents on a regular basis.

SD61 Regulation 1155 - Complaint Process for a Resolution of Concerns Purpose:

The Complaint Process ensures that any individual’s concern will be given respectful attention while upholding the integrity of the educational system. It provides clear procedures for the communication and resolution of any concern held by members of our Educational Community. The Educational Community includes parents, students, all Greater Victoria School District employees and members of the public.

GENERAL COMMENTS

  1. Any Greater Victoria School District employee contacted by a member of the Educational Community with a concern will advise the person of the complaint process and encourage the person to express the concern to the individual involved.
  2. Every effort should be made to resolve the concern at Step 1 of the process.
  3. The process will be carried out within a reasonable time frame.
  4. The person with the concern must be informed of the progress in each step of the process.
  5. The process does not deny access to the Greater Victoria School Board’s Bylaw 9330.1 “Appeal Process Decisions Regarding Students” to resolve a concern held by a member of the Educational Community.

PROCESS

Step 1 Initial Contact

The person(s) will express the concern(s) to the individual involved.

  1. Both parties will attempt to:
    • Define the concern(s);
    • Clarify the issue(s);
    • Develop an appreciation and understanding of each other’s point of view;
    • Resolve the concern(s).

If there is no resolution, the staff member will refer to the principal/supervisor.

Step 2 Facilitated Contact

The person(s) will meet with the principal/supervisor or designate. At the meeting the principal/supervisor or designate will:

  • Gather information;
  • Attempt to resolve the concern(s);
  • Document the information by recording issue(s) and possible solution(s);
  • Resolve the concern(s).

If there is no resolution, proceed to Step 3

Step 3 District Contact

The principal/supervisor will forward all documentation to the Zone Assistant Superintendent/Director with recommendation(s) for resolution of the concern(s).

The Zone Assistant Superintendent/Director will review all information relevant to the matter:

  • contact the concerned person;
  • attempt to resolve the concern and inform the person(s) involved.

If there is no resolution, proceed to Step 4

Step 4

The Zone Assistant Superintendent/Director will forward all documentation to the Superintendent

  1. The Superintendent will gather all information relevant to the concern(s) and, if necessary, will meet with the parties to resolve the concern(s).

It is anticipated that the concern(s) will be resolved prior to Step 4, if not, Bylaw 9330.1 “Appeal Process Decisions Regarding Students” should be considered

VCPAC is also available to provide information, materials, and support for individual parents that express concerns as well as inform parents/students of their rights, and of SD61 policies, and regulations. They can guide the client through the proper complaint and appeal procedures if need be and will continually strive to keep issues clear and focused on early resolution.

Click for Top of Page

Examples

Example - developing a strategy

Parents and staff worked through together to develop a Policy on Parental Involvement. There were a number of steps to the process.

Getting started - identifying the issues

A representative focus group of 15 parents held a meeting, with a community learning and development worker as facilitator. This took the form of a brainstorming session based on:

  • What does parental involvement mean?
  • Sharing good practice and ideas
  • The barriers to parental involvement.

Working party to develop the policy

A working party was set up consisting of equal numbers of parents and staff. It was set up to take forward ideas from the focus group, to consider what the solutions were to the problems identified, and to continue the process of working together to develop the policy document.

Involving more parents

Parents and education staff facilitated focus groups to share the policy in its early draft form and gain views on it from more parents. Parents from the working party and the first brainstorming session led the focus groups, supported by a member of staff. Views were collated and fed into the working party developing the policy.

Staff involvement

A school focus group was set up to ensure their views were included.

Reaching more parents

Further focus group meetings took place to provide an update on the draft policy and gather further comments/feedback.

Parents present to staff

Parents presented the final draft at staff and Parent Council meetings.

Final checks

The draft policy was sent out to all who had been involved in its development and all parent representative groups. Further changes were made at working party meetings. The final policy was then agreed and a date set for review.

Launch of policy and spreading the word

An Action Group was formed to plan for the policy launch conference and to support the ongoing work with the policy. Some parents who had not been previously involved and staff from other areas of work were included, eg the early years worker from the childcare partnership.

Parents' conference

A conference was held to launch the policy. Workshops were led by parents and supported by staff, and covered many areas highlighting where parents are involved in their children's education. Professional actors demonstrated barriers to parental involvement through short skits.

Benefits included:

  • Staff and parents working together
  • Everyone having an equal say
  • Bringing together ideas that led to solutions
  • Attention to language and jargon in the policy

Example - a parents' conference

A conference was organized with the aim of achieving effective involvement of parents in education. The conference was attended by parents, teachers, school staff, community members and representatives from voluntary organizations. The work of local staff supporting and encouraging attendance was seen as crucial to ensuring the attendance of a range of parents. Some of the parents present indicated that this was the first time they had attended a conference. Childcare facilities, transport and entertainment for children all helped parents to attend the conference.

On the day

The day consisted of a presentation followed by workshops covering the wide range of ways parents are involved in their children's education. The workshops encouraged participation and gave delegates an opportunity to discuss issues and share experiences.

The workshops were an opportunity for participants to voice their opinion on how they thought Aberdeen City Council should design its policy on involving parents and carers in their children's learning. Questions in the workshops were based around:

  • Where does learning take place?
  • Who is involved?
  • What can parents contribute?
  • What barriers exist to parental involvement?
  • What reduces the barriers and how can we eliminate them?

After lunch, delegates were re-energized through the 'Family Learning Surprise'. This involved five-minute maths aerobics sessions which consisted of spins, steps, and hops. At the end of the conference delegates were asked to give feedback. The high number of responses (93 per cent) reflected the general 'buzz' generated by the conference.

Activity

The following activity sets out how to gather ideas and views on themes for the strategy framework and for people to be able to participate easily and express their views.

Files

PDF file: Activity - an open space event to identify key issues (36 KB)

Word file: Activity - an open space event to identify key issues (45 KB)