Supporting Parents To Engage In Their Children’s Learning
The home is the first and most important place for children to grow and develop (Melhuish, 2015; Scottish Government, 2015). The Joseph Rowntree Foundation Report ‘Closing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Education’ (Sosu and Ellis, 2014) found that parental involvement programmes that focus on helping parents to use appropriate strategies to support their children’s learning at home have a positive impact on reducing the poverty- related attainment gap.
A high quality ELC offer should support parents in their role as the primary influence on child outcomes. Promoting parental engagement in children’s learning while children attend ELC is an important opportunity to make parents feel valued, instil them with confidence in their role and demonstrate that educational institutions are accessible and approachable. The Stay, Play and Learn sessions  (run by Early Years Scotland) are an excellent example of where this is already happening.
To build staff confidence to engage with parents, we will include a module on this in the online national programme of CPL, highlighting the contribution this can make to children’s development and supporting staff to find appropriate strategies.
The Scottish Attainment Challenge will also fund an ELC summit in early 2018. The summit will take stock of current examples of how the ELC offer is being used to support parents to engage in their children’s learning and how we can strengthen the contribution that ELC practitioners can make. This will help to inform the content of the module.
One of the earliest opportunities to strengthen parental engagement is to make them an active agent in the choice of ELC provision for their child. As we move to a Funding Follows the Child model, we will support parents to feel confident in the move to a ELC settings that they make for their child, by providing clear and accessible information that empowers parents to make the choices that best support their child’s development.
Action 11: We will develop an online resource for parents to empower them to make choices about the right ELC setting or combination of settings for their child.
The reference resource will outline the options which are available to families (including choice of provider, outdoor provision and a blended model of ELC) and practical advice about identifying settings and provision that best meet the needs of different children and how to access support for children with additional support needs ( ASN). The guidance will be ready for March 2019.
Our ambitions around parental engagement go beyond encouraging parents to support their child’s development. Building the Ambition describes not only the value of supporting parents to engage in their child’s learning but also to focus on their own learning.
Family learning encourages family members to learn together, with a focus on intergenerational learning and enabling parents to learn how to support their children’s learning journey. For some adults, a family learning course can be the first step to taking up further adult learning and training opportunities or employment. For children, this can have an impact on attainment and their own individual learning journey.
Education Scotland’s Review of Family Learning (December 2016) concludes that embedding family learning across education, health and socio-economic policies is crucial to closing the poverty related attainment gap. It recommends that funding should be made available for family learning programme development and delivery at a strategic and local authority level.
Increasing the support available for evidence-based family learning programmes will benefit both parents and children by increasing parenting skills and parental confidence and so improving interactions within the family. This can lead to increased pupil attainment and can also enhance skills development, employability, and opportunities for progression into further education for parents.
Action 12: We will increase support for evidence-based family learning programmes to embed this in the early learning offer for families facing disadvantage.
There will be further opportunities to support parents to engage in their children’s learning as we take forward the Programme for Government commitment to develop a national action plan on parental engagement, and in the forthcoming Education Bill which will enhance the role of parents in schools by strengthening, modernising and extending the 2006 Parental Involvement Act and, where relevant, extending provision to apply to ELC settings.