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.

Equalities and Equity

"Tackling inequity is at the heart of the Scottish Government’s education policy… there is a collective responsibility to ensure continuous improvement for children and young people."

John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, December 2017

All parents should have access to support and advice to help them to engage in their child’s learning. This requires practitioners to adapt to the needs and wishes of parents and to ask parents what is important to them. It is important to be aware of the impact of family circumstances – poverty, background, connections with their community – on parents’ and families’ confidence, and to take steps to address and support that impact.

The public sector Equality Duty requires public bodies to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different people when carrying out their activities.

We will aim to build on the strengths within parents and families, improving the connections and communication between early learning and childcare setting, school and home. The themes of equalities and equity are reflected in a specific section within this plan. However, it should be noted that both themes run through all other sections of the plan.

Goal H (Equalities and Equity): Work together to address barriers that limit parents’ involvement and engagement

Case Study example: Prestonpans Infant School / Dad Friendly Schools

At Prestonpans Infant School, we recognise the first place of the family as educators of the child. When the child comes to school, we aim to enter into a partnership with the family to nurture, develop and teach the child. The voice of children and their families inspires our practice.

As part of our drive to adopt an inclusive and equitable partnership with families, we considered which groups were under-represented and became aware that male carers felt less comfortable in the school setting. We set out to improve our welcome, communication with, involvement and engagement of male carers in our children's learning. We then shared our practice with other schools as part of the East Lothian Father Friendly Schools Project. The project focused on using our practical ‘How Father Friendly is our School?’ guide to self-evaluate the practice of participating schools. Long working hours, negative personal experiences, mum-centric communication from schools and social inequality were all found to be barriers in the study; conversely dads' involvement was increased through positive imagery, gender-specific events, a warm and genuine welcome and appointed "champions" of father inclusion. The project could have a significant impact across Scottish education, if its findings are grasped and ideas built upon. Tim Porteus, a Prestonpans dad, believes change is coming: "We’re not conforming to this old stereotype anymore. We want to be proactive, hands-on, nurturing, full-on parents, equal with mums, because we know that we can do it." Such enthusiasm, when it translates into greater participation, is proving a win-win for everyone – families, children and society at large.

Full findings of the study and a copy of guide is available free on-line at www.fathersnetwork.org.uk

" Two key issues of representativeness emerged in discussion [about Parent Councils] – gender and socio economic class"
IPSOS Mori (2017) Research to inform the review of the impact of the Parental Involvement Act

National Actions:

Action 26 The Scottish Government will conduct an Equalities Impact Assessment and Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment in relation to this plan. The Scottish Government will consider equalities issues in key programmes and campaigns such as Parent Club, Read, Write, Count, the First Minister’s Reading Challenge and the Deputy First Minister’s Holiday Maths Challenge.

Action 27 The Scottish Government will work with parent groups to ensure that national education policy documents, strategies and guidance documents are fully "parent friendly". This will include active steps to engage with groups that we have failed to involve in the past. It will include detailed consideration of socio-economic circumstances as well as a wide range of equalities issues.

Action 28 As part of its work to extend and strengthen the Engaging Parents and Families Toolkit, Education Scotland will review and update the existing section on working with parents who face barriers to their involvement by March 2019.

Action 29 Equalities and equity will be addressed as part of the new package of guidance, training and support on both parental involvement and engagement. This will include the equalities needs of Parent Councils, responding to findings from the National Parent Forum’s review of parental involvement. In addition, the Scottish Government will make a total of £350,000 available between 2019 and 2021 in order to develop small scale research and best practice materials on a range of equalities themes.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Article 18 (parental responsibilities and state assistance) - Both parents share responsibility for bringing up their child and should always consider what is best for the child. Governments must support parents by creating support services for children and giving parents the help they need to raise their children.

Action 30 The Scottish Government will take steps to support the positive involvement and engagement by specific groups. This includes but will not be limited to the following:

Armed services families

The Scottish Government, the National Parent Forum and Education Scotland will promote and share "Transitions", the Parent Forum’s "Nutshell" for Armed Forces Families. The Parentzone Scotland website will be promoted to forces families as well as the Association of Directors of Education’s Forces Children’s Education website.

The Scottish Government will continue to engage with stakeholders, including members of the Scottish Service Children Strategy Group, the MOD Children's Education Advisory Service Parent Support Officer, and Family Federations, in order to provide advice and support in relation to forces families.


When fathers are supported to engage with their child’s learning this leads to better outcomes for children. Children are also likely to enjoy school more. A father-friendly approach is essential. The Scottish Government will work with Fathers Network Scotland and Families Need Fathers to ensure that all key guidance and training materials relating to parental involvement and engagement are "father friendly", fully reflect the role of dads, and reflect the principles of father-inclusive practice. We will promote the "How Father Friendly is our School" guidance and associated research. Organisations who support and enhance the role of fathers will be fully involved in the implementation of this plan and associated policy activity.

Minority ethnic parents

The Scottish Government will ensure that the refreshed guidance, training and support materials on parental involvement and engagement will include materials to support minority ethnic parents. The Scottish Government will work with organisations to ensure that minority ethnic parents are fully involved in the implementation of this plan.

Gypsy/Travellers parents

Under the Child Poverty Delivery Plan, the Scottish Government will provide tailored play and early learning opportunities for pre-school children and their parents living on Gypsy/Traveller sites and deliver on site adult learning opportunities to parents and carers to improve their own literacy and numeracy and enable them to support their children.

The Scottish Government will publish guidance aimed at schools, including early learning and childcare settings, and local authorities, to help them better engage with Gypsy/Traveller children and their parents.

Parents of disabled children and children with additional support needs

The Scottish Government will consult on a new resource - Supporting Disabled Children, Young People and their Families - from April 2018 with direct relevance to education, schools and early learning and childcare settings. This will highlight good practice and share information on Rights and Information; Accessibility of Support, and Transitions.

The Scottish Government will work with parent organisations to monitor, review and develop all national policy in relation to Additional Support for Learning ( ASL) through its Advisory Group for ASL.

The Scottish Government will continue to fund the Enquire national advice and information service for additional support for learning up to end 2021, ensuring accurate, helpful information including online and helpline support. Scottish Government will review the effectiveness of the service on an on-going basis through grant monitoring arrangements.

The Scottish Government will promote the National Parent Forum’s ‘Nutshell’ briefing on additional support for learning via a wide range of communication channels.

Parents with learning disabilities

The Scottish Government will liaise with the National Parent Forum of Scotland in relation to their work with People First to consider the information needs of parents with learning disabilities. This will include consideration of opportunities to provide ‘Easy Read’ guides on key topics related to Scottish education. An Easy Read version of this plan will be published by December 2018.

Separated parents

The Scottish Government will ensure that duties and responsibilities relating to separated parents are reflected within relevant guidance, and training accompanying the guidance on parental involvement and engagement. The Scottish Government will work with local authority partners and parents to consider and address barriers which may prevent separated parents from being involved and engaged. The Scottish Government will promote the Children In Scotland/Families Need Fathers Helping Children Learn guidance on involving separated parents to all schools.

British Sign Language users

Education Scotland will work with British Sign Language users to publish information and advice about how parents can get further involved in their child’s learning. This work will be completed by 2020. The Scottish Government will seek the views of parents who use British Sign Language when developing guidance on parental involvement and engagement.

Key steps at local authority level:

  • Reflect equalities duties in key strategic and improvement plans and documents.
  • Work with organisations who can assist in providing advice and support on both equalities and equity to early learning and childcare settings, schools and Parent Councils.

Key steps – practitioners, managers, families:

  • Consider training and support needs in relation to inclusion and the full range of equalities considerations.
  • Consider the links between your approaches to support greater equity, plans for Pupil Equity Funding and broader activities on parental involvement and engagement.
  • Work with the Parent Council or additional parental involvement groups to consider how to minimise the impact of cost on children’s experience of school.
  • Consider the Cost of the School Day Toolkit and its relevance in the context of your school or early learning and childcare setting.

Case Study example: Food, Families, Future – Dalmarnock Primary, Glasgow

Dalmarnock Primary’s summer club builds on the long-standing success of the school’s Homework Club which runs weekly. It allows parents to prepare a hot two course meal while children do their homework and enjoy facilitated and supervised play. Families then eat the meal together.

Parents had expressed concern over the length of the holiday, the expense involved in entertaining children and the social isolation many parents felt over the period while school was closed. The school was also very mindful of the Cost of the School Day project and wanted to address the cost of the holidays in some way. Morning sessions for parents and children were run separately, to allow new friendships to be formed and skills to be learned. The children’s programme was pre-planned and themed across the weeks. It was delivered by Thriving Places and PEEK (Possibilities for Each and Every Kid). They also took responsibility for child protection protocols, meaning the club could still run on days when no school staff were available to attend.

The parent programme evolved from need and request. It included input from health, housing, local beauty therapists, counsellors and opportunities to sit and chat over coffee.

The afternoon session involved facilitated ‘learning through play’ sessions with parents and children learning together and was also facilitated by partners.

Watch the video taken during the Summer Camp ( https://vimeo.com/178001930).


Back to top