Advocacy

Introduction

The materials in this section of the website were adapted from Parents as Partners in their Children’s Learning produced by The Scottish Government, Crown Copyright 2006. They provide parents and schools with a practical resource to support partnership with parents in all aspects of children's learning. VCPAC would like to thank the Scottish Government for allowing us to adapt these materials for use by our parents.

These resources look at the ways parents and caregivers can be involved and include advice and practical materials to support parental involvement. The complete toolkit can be downloaded here in PDF format for easier printing.

The toolkit includes:

  • Checklists
  • Practice examples that can be used or adapted
  • Activities
  • Methods to help people identify issues and express their ideas
  • Ways of resolving parental complaints/concerns

Who the toolkit is for

  • Parents: there are ideas about how to get involved in their child's education and learning.
  • Teachers and school staff: there are practical methods and good practice examples of how to develop effective partnerships with parents.
  • PAC: there is material to support PAC development.

The toolkit will also be useful to other people who are helping parents and teachers work together to support children's learning. This might include community learning and development teams, family support staff, and learning support staff. It will be useful to all those people who have an interest in making the school a part of the community it serves, including students, children's extended families, and people from the local community.

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

 

What is Parental Involvement?

What does parental involvement in children's learning mean?

There are three main ways parents can get involved in supporting their children's learning:

  • Learning at home: Parents are the first and ongoing educators of their own children and, as such, should receive information and support to help develop their child's learning at home, in the community and at school.
  • Home-school partnership: Schools must be open to the involvement of parents in the work they do and they should consider ways of providing information that helps parents engage with school and their children's education.
  • Parental representation: Parents should have the opportunity to express their views and have these taken into account on policy matters affecting the education of their children. All parents are members of the Parent Advisory Council at their child's school.

The BC School Act recognises the vital role that parents play in supporting their children's learning by giving parents the right to belong to a parent advisory council in their school, and through it to advise the board, principal, and staff on any matter relating to the school. It aims to help parents to be:

  • Involved in their child's education and learning
  • Welcomed as an active participant in the life of the school
  • Encouraged to express their views on school education generally.

These partnerships help all children become:

  • Successful learners
  • Confident individuals
  • Responsible citizens
  • Effective contributors.
 

Benefits of Involvement

The benefits for the children are:

  • It is easier for children to learn when they get encouragement from home.
  • They will do better and achieve more when their parents are involved.
  • Children get access to more activities in and out of school when there are more adults to help.
  • Their concerns can be sorted out more quickly when their parents have a positive relationship with school staff.
  • They are happy when their parents are enjoying events in the school.

The benefits for parents are:

  • Their children do better when they are involved.
  • They are better able to help and encourage their children.
  • They have more information about their children's education.
  • Parents can build their own confidence and skills.
  • Where there is a positive relationship between parents and their child's school there are benefits all round.
  • Parents get reassurance that their children are receiving a good education.

The benefits for the school are:

  • Parents bring skills which complement teachers' skills and expertise.
  • Parents contribute their time, so together parents and teachers are able to do more activities with students than teachers can do on their own.
  • Students' achievement and behaviour improve.
  • Parents have ideas about how the school can best support the children.
  • Teachers have people with whom they can talk over ideas and get help when developing plans for the school.
  • Parents can give advice and help reach other parents.

The benefits for Administration are:

  • The ideas and experience of a wider pool of people lead to a better strategy which will support participation by more parents.
  • Administration gets information on how its policies and education provision are working out in practice.
  • Administration is able to discuss plans and ideas for education development with a wide range of parents.
  • Parents who are involved in other representative groups help make sure the education policies link in well with the other policies and provision for people living in that area.
 

Working Together

What helps parents, teachers and administration work together?

People can work together most easily when three factors are present.

  • Issues: People are working together on issues which they think are important.
  • Ways of working: The way they work together respects and values each person's contribution. It is realistic in terms of the time and effort it takes. The process welcomes and encourages people who have less experience or confidence.
  • Getting results: Working together gets results. People can see their effort has been worthwhile and that they have been listened to.

'When I started coming to the parents' meetings I was scared to speak. Now I'm not, and I'd like to be able to speak in public like the others.' A parent

Files

PDF file: Checklist - questions to help identify and encourage healthy partnerships (27 KB)

Word file: Checklist - questions to help identify and encourage healthy partnerships (31 KB)

 

Examples from Schools

Example - parents supporting healthy eating

An elementary school involved parents in improving school meals. Parents tested school lunches and took an interest in the nutritional value of the meals, which led to the school meals service changing its menus. As the school meals improved more children chose to have them regularly.

With the help of a local trust fund and local gardening firm, a school garden was developed to grow fresh produce for use in school meals and for snacks.

Example - a school community collaborating on a safer school travel plan

Parents and staff of Cedar Hill Middle School worked in cooperation with Saanich Safer City to create a safer school travel plan. Through the program, priorities were defined and realistic solutions were created for addressing identified school road safety related issues.

Cedar Hill Middle School worked together with key community partners to achieve this goal. The solutions generated identify strategies from three key perspectives: Education, Enforcement and Engineering. The final plan identifies both short and long term goals within each focus.

Purpose of the Safer School Travel Plan:

  • Identify safety concerns for the student population, parents and school staff traveling to and from the school.
  • Collaborate with the municipality, school community, school district, police, ICBC, and other stakeholders to identify and implement changes to enhance safety of student travel.
  • Develop and include strategies for all modes of transportation and from the three key disciplines of Education, Enforcement and Engineering.
  • Increase support for safe pedestrian and bicycle travel and/or other vehicle reduction initiatives.

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

 

Because all children benefit from the interest and involvement of their parents, it is important to make sure that all parents have opportunities to be involved in their children's learning and education.

Every parent wants the best for their child but may have difficulty participating in some activities. This does not mean that they are not interested or not doing what they can to support their child's learning but they may find it difficult to be involved in the school. The key is to ensure that as many opportunities as possible are available to parents.

Barriers to Involvement

Time

Parents are busy people. They might:

  • Be working either full- or part-time
  • Be bringing up young children
  • Have children attending different schools.

Family circumstances

Families come in all shapes and sizes and have different needs. Parents may find it particularly difficult to attend meetings if they:

  • Have a child with special needs
  • Have a baby or other caring responsibilities
  • Work shifts or work away from home
  • Have a complex family structure: they might be separated from their partner; some might have new partners.

Geography

The area parents live in can be a significant factor in how much they are involved in school-based activities. Some barriers to their involvement include:

  • Parents and students having to travel some distance to the school
  • Lack of transportation
  • Having to walk through unsafe areas

Parents may feel uncomfortable in school surroundings for a number of reasons:

  • It may bring back unpleasant memories of their own school days.
  • Some may feel that their own lack of knowledge or skills puts them at a disadvantage.
  • Some parents may have difficulty themselves with reading or writing.
  • English may not be their first language.
  • Parents may feel that there is no place for them in the school or that the school is not welcoming.
  • Some men may feel out of place and that they don't have a role because many activities held during the day are mainly attended by women.

Unfamiliarity

Many parents feel that membership of a formal parent body is 'not for them'. They may perceive them as 'closed', 'cliquey', 'elitist' or 'formal', or not see themselves as the right kind of person to be involved. These perceptions can be a real barrier to parents putting themselves forward.

Files

PDF file: Activity - involving all parents at your school (42 KB)

Word file: Activity - involving all parents at your school (33 KB)

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When Things Go Well

What it looks like when things go well

  • The school is a welcoming place with space for parents and clear indications that they are welcome and valued, e.g. a parents' room or welcome posters, possibly developed with parents, in all the languages represented in the school.
  • There are opportunities at various times during the day, and in the evening for parents to meet teachers to discuss their child's progress.
  • School events and activities take account of any specific cultural or religious festivals that may affect the involvement of some parents.
  • School events and activities take account of any financial limitations that may affect the involvement of some parents. Arrangements are made to waive the cost and/or events are scheduled to reflect provincial payment dates (e.g. child tax benefit payments).
  • Parents are able to get actively involved at various times in both regular (e.g. weekly commitments) and infrequent activities.
  • The school is aware of any particular difficulties a parent may have in participating in school activities (e.g. through disability, access or language difficulties) and makes arrangements to provide appropriate support.
  • Parents are asked when their child enrols if there is anything that would help them to get involved, e.g. translation, interpretation, childcare, transport.
  • The school development plan provides an opportunity for staff, parents and students to have discussions about the different ways parents could be involved in school activities and how these will be developed and supported.
  • Childcare and/or transport are arranged (or paid for) for parents' evenings, Parent Advisory Council meetings or other events where some parents might need it.
  • There are social events that build relationships between parents, teachers and school staff.
  • Parents are asked directly and personally to participate in a particular activity by the teacher.
  • Parents are encouraged to get other parents involved - by bringing a friend.
  • No parent is turned away if they volunteer to help and the skills and enthusiasm that parent volunteers bring are matched to the needs of the school.
  • There are activities that make it easy for families to take part and develop positive relationships with each other, school staff and other families, e.g. outings, picnics and cultural events.
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Children in Care

Foster Parents and Guardians

Foster children can face barriers to achieving success in education. In order to achieve this, it is vital that schools are aware of the children in their school who are in care and that they keep in contact with the appropriate parent or guardian. This may be a relative or a foster parent. It is equally important that Parent Advisory Councils be welcoming to foster parents and guardians and include them in all school activities.

Files

PDF file: Checklist - supporting equal opportunities and diversity (40 KB)

Word file: Checklist - supporting equal opportunities and diversity (36 KB)

Examples from Schools

Example - bilingual reading club

Four primary schools which are part of a learning community with a large number of minority ethnic families worked together to set up a Reading Club initiative for parents and children where English is not their first language.

Regular afternoon reading club meetings were held for parents and children with interpreters present to translate and support discussion with teachers. Themed story packs with activities (games, soft toys and puppets) were provided in the family's own language and sessions were held emphasising the value of reading together at home. Other resources available included:

  • Dual-language books - fiction and non-fiction
  • Dual-language dictionaries
  • Translation and interpreting services.

Many parents reported a benefit to their own learning and felt that their English improved. Mothers reported social benefits in meeting with other mothers, and a general improvement in their own relationships with their children.

Staff said that they have developed a greater insight into and understanding of the needs of bilingual learners and parents. They can now enjoy much more positive, supportive relationships with bilingual parents.

Example - a Parent Resource Room

What space in your school can parents call their own? Over 10 years ago, parents in the Fernwood community created a room for themselves at George Jay Elementary School. This comprehensive initiative paved the way for sweeping changes to the relationship between the school and its parent community.

About the Resource Room:

  • The Parent Resource Room is open daily from 8:30am to 3:30pm.
  • A Family Liaison and Community Outreach Counsellor offers:
    • Counselling and support to parents dealing with issues such as family conflict, drug and alcohol problems, separation and divorce, grief and loss, or anger management.
    • Assistance with plans to manage a child's difficult behaviour at home.
    • Referrals to local agencies and organisations.
    • Information and assistance with school issues.
    • Advocacy and mediation.
    • Information on local services, recreational programs and housing.
    • Assistance with career planning and life skills.
    • Parent education programs on a wide range of issues.
    • Volunteer training and help in finding a volunteer placement at George Jay School.
  • Parents use the Resource Room to...
    • Find support and meet other parents.
    • Read the newspaper and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee.
    • Borrow materials on parenting and educational issues.
    • Access support services.
    • Use the clothing exchange.
    • Use a computer.
    • Find information on community resources.
    • Pick up a loaf of bread (on Wednesdays)
    • Work on a project for a teacher.
    • Attend parenting classes.
    • Much much more...

Example - involving fathers - the Challenge Dad project

The Challenge Dad project engaged men in learning opportunities that valued their existing skills and experience as a parent and as a foundation for further learning.

A range of activities and events were offered through the project:

  • Engagement activities, such as five-a-side football
  • Learning activities, such as joint parent and child events and one-to-one literacy work
  • Parenting or social skills.
  • Challenge Dad activities were weekly or monthly dependent on the availability of the fathers. Working fathers, for example, preferred activities to happen on the weekend.

Other ideas for involving fathers

Some schools have developed successful programs for involving fathers that are not based on the traditional models of activity-based family learning. Examples include:

  • Engagement with individual fathers about a specific child's learning and behaviour
  • Making use of father-specific skills to support work in the classroom and also to support children in a mentoring capacity
  • Father-support networks and adult learning programmes for fathers as part of an 'extended school' program.

Files

PDF file: Activity 2 - identifying skills and experience that parents bring to the school (35 KB)

Word file: Activity 2 - identifying skills and experience that parents bring to the school (31 KB)

PDF file: Sample parent survey (42 KB)

Word file: Sample parent survey (46 KB)

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

 

Children learn from the moment they are born as they begin to absorb information and make sense of their world. As well as providing the basics for growth and development, food, comfort and security, parents also provide stimulation through everyday activities, games, rhymes and language that help a child to learn. Many of these activities are part of everyday life - preparing and eating meals together, doing the washing, shopping, watching TV, visiting friends and family - but for young children they are opportunities for discovery and learning.

'Eighty-five per cent of the language we use as adults is in place by the time we are 5 years old and 50 per cent is in place by the time we are three years old.'

This emphasises the importance of parents and the home environment in supporting children's learning and development. Mostly this happens naturally as part of family life. Parents want to do the best for their children and do what they can to achieve this. However, once children start school it is not always easy to know how best to help your child. As children grow older it is easy to forget the strong influence that the home and the community still have on their learning and education. After all, children only spend 15 per cent of their time in school. Schools can do a lot to make the links between what is being taught in school and learning opportunities that exist at home and in the community. This section looks at how parents can be helped to continue their children's learning at home.

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When Things Go Well

What it looks like when things go well

  • Parents get lots of encouragement from the school to take part in their children's learning - and there is evidence that they do take part.
  • Schools and teachers keep parents informed of what their children will be learning in school so that they can discuss this with their children at home.
  • Parents and staff tackle areas of difficulty and concern together.
  • Schools provide specific fun activities for children and parents to do at home.
  • Parents support their children's learning by helping with homework and making links with other areas of school work.
  • Parents spend one-to-one time with their children and also enjoy shared family activities/visits.
  • Parents and children know that everyone's contribution is valued.
  • Children receive additional support from the individual attention they get from their parents.
  • The ways of communicating with parents reflect the diversity of parents and their needs.
  • There are open channels of communication so that parents feel comfortable talking to teachers and making them aware of how children's learning is being supported at home.
  • Teachers discuss with parents and children the activities they undertake at home so that these can be incorporated into their learning in school.

Files

PDF file: Checklist - parents and teachers working together to promote parental involvement (28 KB)

Word file: Checklist - parents and teachers working together to promote parental involvement (39 KB)

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Examples of Involvement

Example - Supporting children's learning at home

A teacher has developed a range of leaflets to keep parents informed on what children are learning in the class and how they can support this at home. There is a welcome leaflet and a general leaflet which describes the curriculum, illustrated with pictures of children in the class. These are available to all parents in a display by the entrance to the class.

In addition there are leaflets covering specific topics used by the teacher throughout the year. Each leaflet has four sections:

  • At school we are learning about ... (eg The jobs people do, Night time)
  • At school we will ... (indicates what it is that children will learn)
  • We will learn by ... (describes the activities that will be undertaken)
  • At home we can ... (suggests activities that parents and children can do together at home to support their learning)

The leaflets are simple, clear and attractively illustrated and each one highlights three or four simple activities that all parents can undertake with their child at home.

Example - Support for schools from other teams

Following the introduction of easy-to-use cameras, a course was piloted to encourage parents to learn to use the cameras and support their child's learning at the same time.

Parents were invited to come along and have some fun with the cameras. They took the cameras home and recorded their child's learning at home. On return to the school an IT tutor and a literacy tutor, using the school's computer suite, worked with the parents to use the software to create storybooks with text and special effects.

Most parents had no previous computer experience, but over the six-week course learned how to produce storybooks including some of the pictures they had taken. Parents and children were thrilled with the results and with their new-found skills, which were put to use in the class, where the parents are helping the staff and children to use the camera more effectively.

Example - Communicating with parents about their child's progress

An elementary school sent out questionnaires to get a clearer idea of parents' and children's views of homework and what information they wanted from school.

A workshop for parents, teachers and students to explore purposes, expectations and communications in relation to homework was held. This was followed up with a small working group to develop a homework policy and communications system for home-school links. Parents and children are involved in a weekly review of their learning using a new home-school diary. The school also bought a number of books on learning and learning styles for the parents' library and the staff library.

The benefits were:

  • Parents had a greater understanding of what goes on in school, could communicate regularly with the school and had a clearer idea of the school's expectations of homework.
  • Parents had a starter for discussion with their children about what they had been learning in school.
  • Children had a weekly opportunity to review their learning, assess their achievements and highlight their learning needs.
  • Staff had a clearer idea of the sorts of activities that parents wanted for home learning and had an easy and routine means of communicating with parents.
  • Schools organised family learning events, giving the opportunity to make initial contacts with parents.

Example - Including all parents in a playing with math project

An elementary school in an area with many ethnic communities developed a project to help parents support their children's learning in math.

School staff received training on the math program which was going to be used and parents were given a personal invitation to attend an informal meeting about the program. The Principal, the class teacher and the tutor who had developed the resource spoke to parents at the meeting. Interpreters were provided.

Parents agreed to come to the school for an hour each week (for six weeks), to play math games in school with their child. Interpreters were available to help communication between parents and school staff. Having helped their child to choose a game, parents took it home and agreed to play with their child for 10-15 minutes each day.

The benefits for parents were that they:

  • Felt more comfortable in the school environment
  • Became aware of the importance that school staff place on the parental role in children's education
  • Gained input from staff that enabled them to support their child's learning
  • Identified opportunities for learning that were not previously apparent
  • Learned that helping to educate their child was fun
  • Saw that school staff valued their first language.

The benefits for staff were that they:

  • Became aware that links could be built with parents - it simply required the right kind of activity
  • Saw that involving parents requires effort and good planning
  • Valued parents' involvement and saw them in a new light.

The benefits for children were that they:

  • Enjoyed quality time with their parents
  • Saw that staff valued their first language
  • Experienced games that they may not have had at home
  • Gained confidence in basic mathematical concepts
  • Understood their parents are valued when they saw them working in partnership with staff.

This project helped the school identify other ways in which parents can be involved and it has already embarked upon a program of book and toy lending. Since an initial session led by the bilingual support teacher, a parent in the school has led the project.

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Activities and Resources

Activities and sample parent prompts

Activity 1 sets out to identify and build on how parents already support their children's learning at home and to make clear links between children's learning in school and at home.

Activity 2 sets out to develop home learning worksheets called 'parent prompts' - linked to various areas of the curriculum for parents to use at home with their children and to provide information to parents on what is being taught in school and suggest activities to support this at home.

The parent prompt outlines the topic areas being covered in school, the skills that are being developed, what the child is doing at school and how the parent can support this with activities at home.

Files

PDF file: Activity 1 - reviewing and developing a home learning policy (36 KB)

Word file: Activity 1 - reviewing the developing a home learning policy (35 KB)

PDF file: Activity 2 - developing parent prompts (48 KB)

Word file: Activity 2 - developing parent prompts (35 KB)

PDF file: Sample parent prompt (34 KB)

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

Successful home-school partnership working depends on the development of mutual trust and respect between school and parents. Schools need to use the skills, knowledge and experiences that all parents and all staff bring to the school to support children's learning.

The development of good relationships when things are going well can make it easier for both parents and teachers to approach each other if they are concerned about something.

There are many opportunities to contact parents informally:

  • Day-to-day contact in the playground or at the school gate
  • Breakfast or after-school clubs
  • Fundraising events
  • Community activities
  • School events - sports day, concerts, etc
  • Introductory home visits.

Working in partnership with parents may be new to some staff, who may also need support to make this work effectively. Principals may want to consider what staff development opportunities are available to staff to support them in communicating with parents. For example, workshops for staff on 'How to get the best out of parent evenings' and 'Making the most of one-to-one meetings with parents' can help develop ideas and skills.

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When Things Go Well

What it looks like when things go well

  • Parents feel that they are welcome in the school.
  • There are a lot of opportunities for parents to get involved in different activities and there is evidence that they do get involved.
  • The school understands the needs of all parents and develops ways of working which are supportive and inclusive.
  • People are asked about what is important to them, and what they would like to see happening.
  • Students are contributing their ideas about what is important to them and how they want parents and others to be involved and these ideas are used to increase the involvement of parents.
  • Parents are motivated to continue their own learning.
  • Everyone recognises that parents have other commitments and responsibilities in their lives.
  • Parents are able to take part when and how they can. It is easy to step back and then pick things up later if circumstances change.
  • Parents have the confidence and skills to take part and the skills that parents have are used appropriately within the school.
  • Teachers engage with parents in a variety of ways on a day-to-day basis in order to build a positive relationship.
  • The process recognises the diversity among the parents at that school and is inclusive. For example, there is information about the ways parents can take part in the life of the school in different formats and languages. Interpreters and signers are provided when necessary to ensure that all parents have access to important information.
  • The school recognises the reluctance of some parents resulting from their own bad experiences at school and provides positive ways for parents to be involved in their own child's school at a level which they are comfortable with.
  • Support and development opportunities are offered to everyone who is taking on a new role such as membership of the parent advisory council or volunteering to help teachers with school activities.
  • The school development plan clearly indicates the different ways in which parents can be involved in the school and their children's learning.

Files

PDF file: Checklist - working together to increase parents' involvement in school (28 KB)

Word file: Checklist - working together to increase parents' involvement in school (43 KB)

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Examples and Activities

Example - a Parent Ambassador Program

Parents can be a tremendous resource in their child’s learning community. However, they are, on the whole, absent from most high schools. The Parent Ambassador Program at Rick Hansen High School in Abbotsford was developed for parents to step into the school culture. Parents volunteer, support school activities and act as advocates for the school in the community.

Resources:

Example - involving parents in planning parents' evenings

Parents were consulted on how the school could improve their partnership with parents. Many parents felt that the arrangements for parent/teacher interviews could be improved. The meetings were held in the classroom and waiting parents could overhear what the teacher was saying to others. This meant that parents could feel uncomfortable about raising issues with the teacher.

To solve this problem, the layout was changed. Soft music was also introduced to help prevent others overhearing what was being said.

Files

PDf file: Activity - a survey on arrangements for parent-teacher interviews (42 KB)

Word file: Activity - a survey on arrangements for parent-teacher interviews (40 KB)

PDF file: Sample parent survey (40 KB)

Word file: Sample parent survey (35 KB)

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Good Communication

Good communication between school and parents

Both schools and parents agree that the basis for developing positive relationships is good communication. Thought needs to be put into this and some schools have developed communication strategies which outline some of the principles of good communication and the various ways it will be done.

These are some ideas that have been suggested by parents and teachers:

  • Use local media such as TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and posters to let parents know what is happening in the school and share 'good news' stories about what the school and students are doing.
  • All information should be attractive and easy to read, using colour and pictures where possible.
  • Avoid the use of educational jargon or terms that parents may be unfamiliar with.
  • Have one-to-one conversations.
  • Have a direct approach to communications with parents - 'just ask them'.
  • Use electronic methods, for example text messages and email.
  • Build relationships through contact with parents at drama, music and sports events, and parents' nights and school concerts.
  • Make use of parent-to-parent contacts, for example 'snowballing' (where one parent agrees to bring along or introduce another), school gate, parents' nights, and information sessions led by parents.
  • Make use of existing opportunities, for example focus on transitional phases (elementary to middle, middle to secondary).
  • Share key facts such as the research findings on the difference parents make.

Example - use of email as a means of communicating with parents

A secondary school identified the need for a more efficient means of communicating with parents and received support to develop an email system.

The project piloted a dedicated email address for parent enquiries. All parents in the school were surveyed to ask if they were interested in using email and if so, for what types of communication. The email addresses were collected and entered into a new system and a protocol was developed to ensure efficient and effective responses or acknowledgements within a reasonable timescale. Guidance was given to parents/staff as to what the email system could and could not be used for.

Approximately 60 per cent of parents in the school signed up to using the new system. During the three-month trial period the school used the system to send out various information documents to parents including the school newsletter and information on drug awareness events. Parents' enquiries included fundraising and meeting arrangements.

The feedback from parents was positive. They were keen to make use of the system as a means of easier access to information relating to the school.

'Just to say that I am finding the system very useful and efficient.'

'I am very pleased, as a parent, that I now have access to the info certain teenagers in my house leave lying in the bottom of their bags.'

'I think this system will benefit many and has benefits perhaps not envisaged for people like me working away from home.'

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How Students Can Help

Students have a really important role in encouraging their parents to get involved with the school. Once they are made aware of how important it is that their parents get involved and support the school they often have a host of good ideas about how this could be done. They often know what would work best for their parents and their families.

Student Councils and clubs can also be a great resource. All of these groups could be asked to consider how parents and the wider community could be involved and support their learning in these areas.

Parent Advisory Councils could benefit from establishing closer links with young people in these groups, both from the cross-over of interest in topical issues and from gaining opportunities to develop closer partnerships.

Ways for Principals, schools and parents to involve students include:

  • Student councils
  • A District-wide student forum
  • A representative on the Parent Advisory Council (properly prepared and supported)
  • Circle time - where teachers and children in elementary schools have a chance to talk together and share news and information informally
  • Youth involvement in Community Planning networks
  • Notice boards which act as a permanent comment board
  • Scope for joint work or projects between staff/parent members and student representatives
  • Including them in formal and informal consultation processes when new ideas are being developed
  • Being part of the social events
  • Helping in practical ways with activities at the school.

Example - students interviewing parents and teachers

Students interviewed their teachers and their parent at home to get their views on parental involvement. Some children interviewed step-moms or dads, which was a very good experience for them both and in some cases the first time the step-parents had ever been asked to consider their involvement. All views gathered by the students helped develop a parent involvement strategy.

Comments from children and young people as part of developing this toolkit 'It [the toolkit] should tell parents and teachers to remember to ask us. We can help them with a lot of things.'

'It's not true that kids and their moms and dads won't want to work together. Just because we have arguments about tidying up at home and staying out late, it doesn't mean we aren't all interested in what happens at school. We want it to be a good school too.'

'The toolkit should tell people to ask grandparents to help. My gran teaches me lots of good things. Some of my friends don't have grandparents they see all the time. People could come and be grandparents for every child who needs one.'

Files

PDF file: Activity - developing a capacity or skills poster (62 KB)

Word file: Activity - developing a capacity or skills poster (42 KB)