Learning together: national action plan on parental involvement, engagement, family learning and learning at home 2018 – 2021

Sets out a vision for parental involvement and engagement from pre-birth to age 18 and takes account of national and international evidence base and Scottish education system expertise. Provides a national vision but allows for local and community innovation and flexibility.


"Parental involvement is …throwing open the doors and saying come on in."

"Parental involvement is…throwing open the doors and heading on out…"

Parental involvement and engagement are not ends in and of themselves. They serve a purpose, and that purpose is to support the learning and development of children and young people. This plan is based on three key principles:

1. That our priorities and our approach should be guided by the needs and interests of the child and their family.

2. That parents are the primary educators of children.

3. That it is only through positive relationships – relationships between families, and those working with children and young people, relationships based on trust, mutual respect and partnership - that we will achieve our aims.

We start from a strong foundation. The National Parent Forum’s Review of Scotland’s 2006 Parental Involvement Act (published May 2017) confirmed that Scotland’s Parental Involvement Act (2006) has helped to "support a step-change in the quality of parental involvement across Scotland". Practice across Scotland has evolved considerably since Scotland’s Parental Involvement Act was brought into force in 2007.

This plan aims to raise the bar yet higher.

The guiding vision is that every parent and family should be supported to be involved and engaged in their child’s education throughout their learning journey.

Our aims are to:

  • ensure that parents are supported to be fully involved in the life and work of their children’s early learning and childcare setting or school;
  • encourage and support collaborative partnerships between practitioners, parents and families;
  • get the right support in place so that parents can engage in their child’s learning;
  • expand access to family learning opportunities which meet participants needs;
  • improve the quality of all communication between practitioners, staff, parents and families, and;
  • improve the skills of leaders, front-line practitioners and support staff.

Flow Chart - Aim and Drivers

Parental involvement and engagement relies on the principles of trust and collaboration, good conversations and emotional bonds. We know that the Parental Involvement Act has been successful in achieving high levels of involvement in "schooling" (what goes on in schools and connected to the schooling of children), but we also know that parental engagement in "learning" has received increasing attention recently. We know that there have been important improvements in communication to and from parents, but we also know we need to make progress in supporting collaborative, two way relationships. We would like to see further involvement of parents in meaningful ways from the beginning of key processes, throughout those processes and in the evaluation and "lessons learned" stage.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Article 5 (Parental guidance): Governments should respect the rights and responsibilities of families to direct and guide their children so that, as they grow, they learn to use their rights properly. The Convention does not take responsibility for children away from their parents and give more authority to governments. It does place on governments the responsibility to protect and assist families in fulfilling their essential role as nurturers of children.

The plan takes account of available Scottish, UK and international evidence as well as a review conducted by the National Parent Forum. It covers parental involvement, parental engagement, family learning and learning at home.

The Scottish Government will work with key partners at national, local and regional level, to deliver, monitor and evaluate progress against this plan over the next three years.

National Actions:

Action 1 Joint commitments to enhance and improve parental involvement and engagement will be included within a joint CoSLA and Scottish Government agreement. This will include a commitment to ensure that headteachers work collaboratively with their Parent Council, wider parent forum and school community on substantive matters of school policy and improvement, based on the principle of co-production.

Action 2 The Scottish Government will bring forward proposals to improve statutory and best practice guidance on parental involvement and engagement. This will be accompanied by a package of training and information materials. The guidance and training package will underpin a collaborative approach to parental involvement matters, and will aim to encourage and support parental engagement in learning.


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