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Guidance on the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006

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Section C - Guidance for Education Authorities

Strategy for parental involvement

S2(1)

1. The Act requires each education authority to prepare a strategy document setting out their policies for parental involvement. The strategy must cover the authority's duties to:

  • involve parents in their own child's education, and that provided by a school to its pupils generally
  • give advice and information to parents in respect of their own child.
  • promote the establishment of Parent Councils in schools and support their operation
  • establish a complaints procedure for their duties under the Act.

Developing the strategy

S2(4)

2. The education authority must seek and take account of the views of all those with an interest in the authority's implementation of its duties, or its complaints procedures, when developing or reviewing its strategy. This includes parents, Parent Councils, pupils and any other person the authority considers appropriate.

3. The education authority should involve parents with differing experiences in the drafting of the strategy to ensure that it reflects the broad parental perspective. The authority should consider a variety of methods that are effective, proportionate and meet the needs of parents in their area. This may include involving parents as part of a working, planning or reference group; use of focus groups, open forum/open space events for parents to discuss issues in small groups; surveys, workshops, consultation documents, etc. Staff with skills in working with groups and facilitating discussion e.g. Home Link/Family Link teams and Community Learning and Development staff can contribute to planning and running events authority wide or in local areas to ensure that as wide a range of parents'/community views as possible are obtained.

4. The views of early years providers and parents should be considered when developing or reviewing the strategy. Childcare Partnerships within local authorities provide a good channel for communication with parents of pre-school and nursery children and with service providers. The views of pupils can be obtained through existing systems e.g. Pupil or School Councils and any authority-wide mechanism for consulting children and young people. The education authority should also have arrangements in place which allow parents to access its strategy through the school or its Parent Council. The education authority should also involve Parent Councils and others when reviewing or revising its strategy.

5. Schools do not exist in isolation. They are based in communities and some larger schools may serve more than one identifiable community. Schools are also part of a network of statutory and voluntary organisations that provide services and support to communities. Therefore, there will be a range of groups which may be able to offer input to the authority's draft strategy for parental involvement. The strategy will need to take account of any differences in approach that are necessary for each community. The principles established in the National Standards for Community Engagement 4 provide a useful framework when planning effective ways of seeking the views of groups and the wider community.

Issues for the strategy

6. The table in Annex B provides a checklist, also available in the Scottish Executive toolkit, that education authorities should have regard to in developing their strategy for parental involvement. Some of the key issues which the strategy should cover include:

Equal opportunities

s2(2)

7. In meeting their duties under the Act, education authorities must take account of issues of equality and the requirements of equalities legislation. They must have regard to how their strategy for parental involvement will promote equal opportunities. This should include issues of diversity and equality so that children and their families are not discriminated against on grounds of race, disability, gender, sexual orientation, language, faith or belief, and age. In the Act, "equal opportunities" and "equal opportunity requirements" have the same meanings as in Section L2 of Part II of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998. 5 Annex A provides a brief summary of the main equalities legislation to which education authorities should have regard.

Barriers to parental involvement

8. In the particular context of the Act, education authorities should take into account factors that may act as barriers, discourage or inhibit parents' involvement in their children's education or contact with the school. There is a variety of reasons why some parents have little or limited contact with the school, or who have difficulties in supporting their child's education and learning. For example, some parents' own experience of school education may have been negative and this may have undermined their confidence to engage with the school. Education authorities and schools need to ensure that their home-school communication arrangements are appropriate for all parents, including mobile families, absent parents and those whose first language is not English, and those who have difficulties with written communication. They should also be alert to situations where families experience practical difficulties in terms of challenging family circumstances, domestic or care arrangements which may make it difficult for parents to come into the school. Education authorities and schools should also consider what effect their current structures and ways of working have in encouraging parental involvement. For example, how often and when are staff available to give advice and information to parents, are parents offered a choice of times and dates for parents' evenings, do parents have sufficient information to become involved in ways that are suitable for them?

9. Education authorities should also consider how their strategy links with the authority's policies for meeting the additional support needs of children who require extra help with their learning so that they can benefit from education. In particular, the authority should consider carefully how their strategy for parental involvement can support families whose children's education is disrupted or affected by family circumstances, or by disadvantage or inequality. Their strategy should recognise the needs of different groups of parents, such as those in mobile families, or whose home language is not English, foster parents or grandparents or other relatives who may be looking after the child. Education authority and school staff may need to work closely with colleagues from other services, such as home school link services, community learning, health, and social work, or other organisations who can support the work of the strategy, or who are working with families.

10. Over time, consideration should be given by authorities and schools to the differing needs and circumstances of fathers, some of whom, research suggests, 6 perceive barriers to their inclusion in schools. Mothers are often the primary carer so their impact on the child's development may be more obvious. The positive involvement of fathers in children's learning is associated with better exam results, better school attendance and behaviour, and better relationships in adult life. Some fathers perceive barriers to their involvement and so authorities and schools must work hard to help break down these barriers in providing a warm welcome to all parents and ensuring that they receive the information they need in order to be able to support their child.

Looked after children

11. The education authority strategy for parental involvement must include specific reference to the authority's arrangements for children who are looked after. The Act uses the same definition of 'looked after' as that in section 17(6) of the 1995 Act. This refers to children or young people who are accommodated by the local authority; or are subject to one of the specified orders made under the 1995 Act, including a child protection order; a parental responsibilities order; or who are subject to a supervision requirement.

12. Guidance on the 1995 7 Act emphasises that children who are looked after should have the same education and development opportunities as all other children. The education authority strategy for parental involvement should demonstrate a commitment to providing help, encouragement and support to address additional support needs or to compensate for previous deprivation or disadvantage. Local authorities should, in most cases, and where this is in the best interests of the child, act jointly with parents in relation to the education of children who are looked after on a full-time basis away from home. Their strategy should also complement their arrangements for integrated working with other professionals and agencies working with the children and their families.

13. It is important that local authorities and schools take account of the views and feelings of the child or young person when seeking to involve parents. Some will find involving parents in their school life can be a positive step in maintaining contact and developing their relationship. Others may find involvement of the parents creates difficulties.

14. Most parents of looked after children retain their parental rights and responsibilities. Many parents who do not live with their children still wish to be involved in their education. In effect, unless parental rights and responsibilities have been removed, parental involvement in a child's education should not be affected by the looked after status of the child or young person. Local authorities and schools should work in partnership with foster parents, and where possible, the natural parents to encourage them to support the child or young person to maximise their educational potential. Some parents and carers have shared care arrangements which may involve the child having some overnight stays in their own home during the week. It is important that schools hold the details about fostering and other care arrangements so that parents can be kept fully informed about their child's education.

15. Where a child or young person is accommodated by the local authority, the educational establishments must ensure that all relevant information in relation to the child or young person is provided to both carer and parent.

16. The above guidance does not apply when a looked after child or young person's care plan specifically states that there should be no involvement with the parent, even if they retain parental rights and responsibilities. The most likely reason behind this decision is that it is in the best interest of the child or young person, e.g. for child protection reasons. Where parents are unavailable, or their contact has been minimised, other relatives, such as grandparents, may be able to play a useful role in offering support and motivation.

17. In developing their strategy for parental involvement the education authority should take account of HMIE's quality indicators outlined in How good is our partnership with parents?, which forms part of their How good is our school? self-evaluation guidance for schools and local authorities. Further information on involving parents in the education of looked after children can be found in the joint HMIE and Social Work Services Inspectorate report, Learning with Care. 8

Non-resident parents and other parents/carers

18. As described in paragraph 4 of Section B, the definition of 'parent' in the Act is the broad one used in the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. The education authority strategy should take account of the varying family circumstances to which the definition of parent gives rise. For example, the Act's provisions can extend to parents who may not live with the child. It also includes parents who are liable to maintain the child. It can also include a person who has been allocated parental rights or responsibilities to be exercised on behalf of a natural parent. The education authority strategy, therefore, should include the arrangements they have in place to assist parents who do not live with their children, or others who have parental or caring responsibilities towards children, to be involved in their education. This should include how they provide parents with advice and information on any matter relating to their child's education, on meetings involving the child, and on school activities. The circumstances of each individual case will differ so it will be necessary for education authorities to provide their schools with clear guidance on the matter. In doing so, authorities should ensure their guidance reflects the different circumstances covered by the above definition of parent.

19. Children's education and development can suffer if they are upset over their parents' separation. But adverse effects on children can be greatly reduced if parents are able to maintain a positive interest in their child's education and welfare. Schools and authorities, therefore, should do what they can to help non-resident parents maintain the relationship with their child's education. Schools may find it helpful to refer parents to A Parenting Agreement for Scotland, 9 which provides advice to help separating parents agree on future arrangements for their children. It is not a legal contract and it is not intended to be enforced by a court. It is intended to help separated parents stay out of court by encouraging them to make practical and workable arrangements for their children by themselves.

20. Some parents and carers have shared care arrangements and it is important that schools know the details of these arrangements so that they can properly communicate with the home and keep parents fully informed. The more information available to the school, the easier it will be for them to accommodate individual family circumstances. Schools should consider how they can routinely keep parents informed in relation to: parents' evenings, attendance, exclusion, sports days and other school events, general information about the school and attainment information etc. regarding their child. In addition, parents should be fully involved in the planning processes in relation to meeting the child or young person's educational needs. It is important that education authorities and schools do as much as they can to support the continued involvement of parents who don't live with their children. In doing so, authorities and schools must be sensitive to the needs and wishes of both parents, who may not always agree. It is also important that education authorities and schools pay particular regard to the views of the child or young person in such circumstances.

Placements outwith local authority

21. The duty on an education authority to promote parental involvement extends to the parents of pupils in attendance at any of its schools. This means that where a child or young person attends a public school outwith their home area, whether or not by virtue of a placing request, then it falls to the host education authority to take steps to promote the involvement of the parents in the child's education. Where an education authority places a child in an independent special or grant-aided special school, the authority retains responsibility for their education. This is most likely to arise in the case of children or young people who have a particular requirement for additional support for learning. 9 Where an authority funds the placement of a pupil at an independent special or grant-aided special school, they should ensure that there are appropriate arrangements in place for the pupil's parents and carers to receive the advice and information they need to be involved with and to support the child's education. The authority's strategy for parental involvement should demonstrate a commitment to ensuring such arrangements are in place.

Pre-school services

22. The education authority, when preparing its strategy, will wish to take account of the authority's policies for early years services and pre-school education and how these involve parents in their child's education and learning. Effective involvement at these early stages can help parents and children prepare for the transition to school and make involvement of parents in school education easier. The authority may wish to seek the views of providers of pre-school education when developing and reviewing their strategy. The authority's strategy may also consider how it can engage effectively with parents of children coming into primary education. It may have regard to the kind of support which the authority can offer to a Parent Council to help it carry out its functions of promoting contact with parents of prospective pupils of the school and with the providers of any nursery education to such pupils. This could include the provision of information on where most prospective pupils of the school receive pre-school education. The early years sector is diverse and the pre-school education of prospective pupils will vary in different areas. Some schools will have pupils coming from a range of nurseries and pre-school settings, across a wide area. Other schools will receive pupils from a limited number of settings. It will be for schools to decide what is reasonable effort in promoting parental involvement but the expectation is that schools will work with their Parent Council to promote contact with parents of prospective pupils where at all practicable.

23. The main provisions of the Act apply to pupils in primary or secondary schools run by the local authority. The definition of pupil includes a child who is under school age if that child is in attendance at a local authority primary school, whether or not the child is in a nursery class in the school. The parents of such children will be members of the Parent Forum for that primary school and will have the same rights under this Act as parents of school age children in attendance at the school.

Integrated children's services

24. The Scottish Executive report, For Scotland's Children, 10 highlighted the importance of all agencies working together to provide high quality health, education and other services to all children and their families and communities. Local authorities, NHS Boards and other appropriate agencies are expected to work together to ensure effective integrated children's services. In doing so, they are required to draw together core statutory and other planning requirements into a single statutory plan. These include Children's Services Plans, child health elements of Local Health Plans, Joint Health Improvement Plans and Child Health Strategies, Youth Justice Strategies, Children's Social Work and, in the context of this guidance, Statements of Education Improvement Objectives and progress reports as required under section 5 of the 2000 Act.

25. This Act amends the 2000 Act so that the account of the ways in which education authorities seek to involve parents in promoting the education of their children should be updated to reflect their strategies for parental involvement. In particular, education authorities should ensure that their contribution to integrated children's services planning takes account of the duty on authorities to promote the involvement of parents in the education provided generally by their schools, and how their strategy for parental involvement promotes equal opportunities. In developing their strategy, authorities should consider their schools' links with other organisations providing advice to parents and seeking to engage with them, e.g. Careers Scotland, health and social services, etc. Rather than concentrating solely on school staff, it is beneficial for the strategy to cover the wider context of providing advice and information to parents.

School standards and performance

S4

26. Under the 2000 Act, education authorities are required, from time to time, to define and publish measures and standards of performance in respect of the quality of education provided by their schools. In doing so, they must consult with representatives of teachers and parents within their area and give them, and any other persons as appropriate, the opportunity to comment on these measures and standards. This Act amends the 2000 Act such that education authorities are required, when assessing the quality of education provided by their schools, to consider the extent to which a pupil's parents are involved in the education provided to the pupil.

Ambitions and objectives for schools

S3

27. Each school must ensure that their school development plan takes account of the authority's strategy for parental involvement. In doing so, they must also ensure that the objectives set for the school includes objectives as to the involvement of a pupil's parents in the education provided to the pupil and to the school's pupils generally. The school development plan must also include a statement of the education authority's ambitions for the school.

Complaints procedure

S15

28. The education authority's strategy must set out the authority's arrangements for handling any complaints from a person, or someone acting on their behalf, in connection with how the authority carries out its functions under the Act, or fails
to carry these out, in respect of that person. In doing so the authority must:

  • ensure their proposed procedure covers the authority's duties to provide advice and information to parents about their own child; what they do in relation to promoting parental involvement, and their duty to promote and support the operation of Parent Councils
  • consult with parents, Parent Councils, and anyone else who has an interest (e.g. staff who deal with other complaints), when setting up the procedure
  • make sure the procedure is reviewed and updated when necessary
  • give a copy of the procedure free of charge to anyone who requests it.

29. An authority's complaints procedure should enable issues to be resolved at as early, and as local, a stage as possible. Many issues can be dealt with adequately at school level. Therefore, the headteacher and school staff should have effective arrangements in place to deal with parental concerns or complaints. These arrangements should be:

  • easy to access and well publicised
  • simple to understand and use
  • clear about time scales for action and keeping people informed
  • confidential
  • effective in providing suitable solutions
  • provide information on next steps, if parents still unsatisfied

30. The education authority should consider how complaints about parental involvement might link with their duties in relation to other pieces of legislation. This includes arrangements for handling representations made under the 2004 Act. In the case of complaints relating to an individual child's education, the education authority should consider whether the complaint requires to be addressed under their duties within the legislation on additional support for learning, including their duty to provide information about mediation and dispute resolution. Every effort should be made to prevent parents being passed from person to person. A 'one stop shop approach' is helpful to both parents and staff. The authority's arrangements for dealing with complaints should be set out in its strategy for parental involvement. The diagram at Annex C outlines how complaints under the Act might sit alongside other formal and informal appeal routes.

31. Given Parent Councils' role in representing the collective view of parents, the education authority must consult them on their arrangements for a complaints procedure. Parent Councils can also make general representations on matters arising from individual complaints where these raise issues of a wider policy or strategic concern.

32. Further information on resolving disagreements is available in section 4 of the Toolkit. A checklist on features of an effective complaints procedure is at section 6 of the Toolkit.

Key points:

  • Education authorities are required to prepare a strategy setting out their policies on parental involvement which must cover their duties under the Act. (para 1)
  • Views of all those with an interest must be taken account of when developing or reviewing a strategy. (para 2)
  • Important to involve parents with differing experiences to ensure the strategy reflects the broad parental view. (para 3)
  • Views of early years providers and parents as well as the wider community should be taken into consideration. (para 4)
  • Equal opportunities must be taken into account when developing strategy. (para 7)
  • Consider the different barriers that some parents face in getting involved and ways of supporting them to overcome these barriers through joint working with other services. (paras 8-10)
  • Needs of looked after children and their parents or carers must be included in the strategy. (paras 11-17)
  • Strategy should set out the authority's arrangements for involving parents who do not live with their children and authority should provide guidance to their schools on this issue. (paras 18-20)
  • Education authorities should consider how their strategies link with wider policies for supporting children and families (paras 24-25)
  • Schools must ensure their school development plan takes account of the authority's strategy and includes objectives relating to parental involvement. (para 27)
  • Education authorities must establish a complaints procedure covering how they carry out their functions under the Act (paras 28-32)

Promoting parental involvement

s1(2)

33. Education authorities are required to promote the involvement of parents in their own child's education as well as the education provided by their child's school to pupils generally. 11 School education includes an authority's duty to secure the provision of adequate facilities for social, cultural and recreative activities and for physical education and training.

Involvement in own child's learning

s12

34. Education authorities must respond to any reasonable request for advice and information from the parent of any child attending one of their schools on the education their child is receiving. They must also take steps to ensure that the headteacher and staff of the school are available to give advice and information to the parent, in a manner consistent with the authority's duties under the Act.

35. Schools should have a clear policy in place for supporting parents with their own child's education and learning. Schools and parents often find that having a variety of methods for sharing information and communicating with parents makes two way communication more effective and makes it easier for parents to know what's going on and to keep in touch, e.g.:

  • phone calls and text messaging
  • letters and newsletters
  • face to face informal contact
  • e-mails and websites
  • parent information evenings and parent workshops.

36. Parents already have the right to access their child's school records, 12 except in certain circumstances, such as situations where allowing access to the record might put another person at risk. Parents should also be involved in the personal learning planning process for their children which promotes dialogue between pupils, parents and teachers. To include parents in this, schools may:

  • Invite parents to be part of the early planning stages, when parents and their child will get the opportunity to discuss suitable learning goals with the teacher
  • Provide parents with the opportunity to discuss their child's learning goals at parents' evenings
  • Arrange additional opportunities for parents to meet the teacher to discuss their child's achievements and next steps for learning.

37. Under the 2004 Act, parents of a child with additional support needs have additional rights to request assessment of and information about their child's needs and how these are to be met. Such requests may involve specific timescales for reply. Therefore, schools and the authority should be clear about the need to respond within an appropriate timescale to parents' requests for advice and information. 13

38. Schools should also consider how non-resident or absent parents can be kept informed of their child's progress and have policies in place to ensure this happens whilst also taking account of any child protection considerations. Where it acts as the corporate parent of a 'looked after' child, the local authority should ensure that it has effective arrangements in place to liaise effectively with the child's school and to provide encouragement and support for the child's learning outwith school. As mentioned above when discussing strategies for parental involvement, the authority should consider how parents and families can continue to support the child's education and learning in a positive way.

Home-school links

39. Education authorities must promote the involvement of parents in the education provided generally by their child's school. Schools should have a clear policy in place which recognises that parents and staff are partners in education and which welcomes and encourages the involvement of parents in the work of the school. Parents should be encouraged to share their perceptions about their child's learning and their views, opinions and concerns should be taken seriously. Under the 2000 Act, the education authority is required to ensure that a development plan is prepared for their schools aimed at improving the quality of education provided by the school. The plan should take account of the authority's policy on parental involvement. It should also take account of the views of pupils, parent representatives and staff. The authority should have arrangements in place to provide access to the plan and progress reports on it for parents of children at the school to receive summaries of the plan. The school policy should demonstrate a commitment to equality and diversity and welcome parents from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures as part of the school community.

Parent Forum

S5

40. All parents who have a child attending a public school are automatically members of the Parent Forum for that school. Membership of the forum allows parents to have a say in the local arrangements to enable their collective view to be represented on matters such as the quality and standards of education at the school and other matters of interest to parents. These views can be represented, as appropriate, to the headteacher of the school, the local authority and HMIE. The Parent Forum may choose to be represented by a Parent Council established by them. For most schools, this will be what normally happens. In some schools, where there are only a small number of pupils, parents may choose to have the Forum itself represent their views.

41. Each education authority should ensure that all parents with children attending, or about to start, at their schools are aware of what membership of the Parent Forum means. This might be done by way of an introductory letter from the authority or the headteacher of the school outlining what parents might expect in terms of partnership and involvement in their child's school education. Membership of the Parent Forum should be a way of including all parents in the school community. It acknowledges the importance of parents in their children's learning and promotes a climate of partnership. As a member of the Parent Forum the parent can expect to receive information about the school and its activities; be invited to be involved in ways and times that suit them; be asked their opinion by the Parent Council on issues relating to the school and the education it provides; be able to participate in deciding how the Parent Council is constituted and operates.

42. Schools should consider what methods are most effective for communicating with members of the Parent Forum. There is a general need to give parents information on school life and events, information on the curriculum and information on their child and it is important to identify and develop effective systems in each school. School reports and parents' evenings are the most obvious formal ways in which schools can pass on information to parents about their child. However, schools that successfully manage to stay in touch with the views of their parents employ a wide range of formal and informal approaches that are reviewed and updated regularly. Successful parent partnership is often due to informal face to face contact and this should be encouraged. Other forms of contact may include telephone calls, letters, e-mails, text messaging, newsletters, school websites, parent information evenings, parent workshops and drop-in surgeries. Workshops led by parents, supported by school staff, can help to engage with other parents. As part of its communication strategy the school should work with parents' representatives to explore ways of allowing parents to share ideas with the school on improving practice. More information on good practice in communicating with parents is available from the Parentzone website 14 and sections 3-5 of the toolkit. 15

Promoting establishment of Parent Councils

S5(3)

43. The Act requires education authorities to promote the establishment, and provide support for the operation, of Parent Councils. In general, this will entail the creation of a Parent Council for each school. The Act also allows for the establishment of a Combined Parent Council in certain circumstances. ( See Section D of this document.)

44. While the education authority must prepare a "scheme" for establishing a Parent Council at each school, the decision on whether to establish a council is one for the members of the Parent Forum at that school. Preparing the "scheme" should be an authority-initiated process which has the flexibility to enable parents to reach decisions on arrangements that meet individual school circumstances. School and education authority staff with the necessary facilitating skills should assist parents to identify and consider options for the kind of Parent Council they wish to see in their school and support them to make these arrangements.

Guidance on preparing a scheme for a Parent Council

S6(1)-(6)

45. The authority must notify all parents in the Parent Forum in writing of their intention to prepare a scheme for the establishment of a Parent Council for the school. In setting out the process to be followed, the authority should suggest alternatives for how the Council may be constituted and what its constitution may be. Alternatives should only be offered by way of examples and should be framed in accordance with this guidance. In particular, the authority should refer parents to the Scottish Executive toolkit that includes practical materials to assist them in setting up a Parent Council The toolkit is designed to help parents, and those local authority and school staff who are supporting parents through the process, reach decisions which are right for their school. The toolkit also includes material highlighting the importance of involving Pupil Councils and pupils generally in arrangements for parental involvement.

46. It is expected that the process will allow parents the opportunity to discuss arrangements for their Parent Council. One way to do this is to establish a school working party to assist the process as set out below:

  • education authority to notify members of the Parent Forum of its intention to establish a scheme for the establishment of a Parent Council and the process
    to be followed
  • school to convene open meeting of parents to set up a school working group. (Ideas for engaging parents in different ways are provided throughout the toolkit)
  • working party, supported by local authority, to use toolkit materials to explore options for Parent Council and its constitution
  • working party to engage Parent Forum in discussion of options and ascertain parents views
  • working party to report back to education authority with suggested scheme for Parent Council arrangements and constitution
  • education authority to submit scheme to all members of the Parent Forum inviting them to express their preference from options outlined by the school working party
  • education authority to implement arrangements agreed by majority of parents voting.

47. The authority, in notifying parents, must also include an invitation for parents to indicate if they wish someone other than the authority to prepare the scheme, or that no scheme is prepared. In most, if not all circumstances, it is expected that parents, with support from the school and the authority, will be able to agree arrangements with which they are happy. In the case of a very small school, parents may choose not to set up a Parent Council, but to agree arrangements between themselves for working with the school and making their views known.

S6(3)

48. Parents must have reasonable time to consider their preferred option for their school. Therefore, the overall process is likely to vary from school to school depending on the number of pupils in attendance. The authority must provide all members of the Parent Forum with a copy of the Parent Council arrangements agreed for their school. Where parents choose to have someone other than the authority prepare the scheme and run the process for establishing a Parent Council, that person must send a copy of the scheme, including a copy of its constitution, to all members of the Parent Forum inviting them to indicate, within a reasonable timescale, whether the scheme should be implemented. Where the majority of members responding within the timescale agree, the person who prepared the scheme may make appropriate arrangements to implement it.

Advising and informing Parent Councils

S11
(1) & (2)

49. It is the intention of the Act and guidance to promote the active involvement of parents and their representatives in the work of the education authority and its schools. Effective involvement and participation of parents depends on positive engagement by staff at all levels. The Act makes provision for an education authority to provide advice and information on any matter in response to reasonable requests from Parent Councils. They must also take appropriate steps to ensure that the headteacher and staff of each school in their area are available to give advice and information to Parent Councils, on what is being done to promote parental involvement in education at the school in line with the authority's duties under the Act.

Supporting Parent Councils

S11
(4)

50. An education authority must provide support to Parent Councils to enable them to operate and to carry out their functions effectively. The authority must consult with the Parent Council and allocate reasonable funding to enable the Council to meet:

  • its administrative expenses, including any expenses incurred in the appointment of a clerk to the council
  • expenses for training of its members, and
  • other costs incurred in carrying out its functions under the Act.

S11(5)

51. The education authority may also provide a Parent Council with services or accommodation. This might include administrative support from the school secretary, or the school web manager, email access, use of photocopying services, distribution of council materials to parents, provision of rooms or other suitable accommodation.

Representations from Parent Councils

S11(6) and
S11(7)

52. The education authority must inform the Parent Council of the school's arrangements for consultation between parents and teachers. The Parent Council can make representations on these arrangements and other matters of interest to parents to the authority or to the headteacher. The authority and the headteacher must take account of these representations and consider how far they can incorporate them into how they carry out their functions, or, in the case of the headteacher, the duties of the post. The authority and, if appropriate, the headteacher, must reply to all representations received from the Parent Council.

Parent Councils and appointment of senior staff

S14

53. The appointment of a headteacher or deputy headteacher is of crucial importance to a school and its community. Parents have a particular role to play in the process. The education authority must involve the Parent Council, if any, of the school to which a permanent appointment is to be made. This involvement should extend throughout the appointment process. It could involve the initial drawing up of the job specification, the sifting arrangements and sitting on the interview panel. The education authority should offer training to members of the Parent Council, or anyone assisting the council, with their functions in relation to the appointments process.

54. The authority must inform the Parent Council of their arrangements for filling senior posts and also immediately, about any changes they make to the process. Education authorities must comply with any regulations drawn up by Scottish Ministers relating to the senior appointments process and pay due regard to any supporting guidance.

Key points:

  • Authorities must promote the involvement of parents in their own child's learning and in their child's school more generally. (para 33)
  • Reasonable requests from parents for advice or information must receive a response from the authority, headteacher or school staff. (para 34)
  • Schools should have a policy setting out how non-resident or absent parents can be kept informed of their child's progress. (para 38)
  • Schools should have a clear policy welcoming and encouraging partnership with parents. (para 39)
  • All parents are automatically a member of the Parent Forum for their child's school, and may be represented by a Parent Council. (para 40)
  • Authorities should ensure that parents are aware what membership of the Parent Forum means. (para 41)
  • Authorities are required to promote and support Parent Councils. (paras 43-44 and 50-51) and provide advice and information on any matter in response to reasonable requests from Parent Councils. (para 49)
  • All parents in a Parent Forum must be notified by the authority of their intention to prepare a scheme for establishing a Parent Council. (para 45-48)
  • Parent Councils should be involved in the appointment of a headteacher or deputy headteacher. (para 53)