School Handbook: guidance

Information for local authorities and schools to help develop contents for their handbooks.

Annex B

Key findings summary for the Public Consultation on School Handbooks and Better Information for Parents: Results from the Online Consultation and Engagement Events and Focus Groups.

The purpose of the School Handbook

  • To communicate the ethos of the school
  • To help some parents choose a school
  • A practical resource when preparing for school
  • A useful reference tool when at school
  • A place to signpost further information
  • A way for the school to communicate with parents about the child's experience at school and to facilitate parental involvement in the child's learning and school life
  • To facilitate communication between the school and parents

Information wanted in future

  • Just over two-thirds of respondents in the online consultation wanted their school to provide them with information about their school only, just under a quarter wanted information about their schools and other schools in the council area, and only 8% wanted information about schools across Scotland
  • Parents and carers are largely happy with the information they currently receive from their school but provided suggestions for further improving it
  • School information is seen as being about much more than just statistics
  • Different parents require a different "cocktail" of information, signposting to other sources of information could meet this need

Choosing a school

  • Ethos is the most frequently cited factor when choosing a school
  • Some parents want performance information when choosing a school
    - Performance information could be presented more clearly, e.g. using graphics, trends are wanted rather than snapshots, and context is needed to explain statistics
  • A wide range of information about policies and practicalities is required
  • Parents who were choosing a school wanted local information to be more accessible and in one place

Preparing for school

  • Parents require a wealth of information about the practicalities of preparing for school and advice on how best to support their child to minimise anxiety and provide reassurance

During school

  • Information on school policies, school contact details and the curriculum came out as the top priorities in the online consultation
  • Performance information (linked to the school improvement plan) is needed to help parents understand what needs to improve and how they can support this
  • The least priority was given to information on school budgets and school attendance rates
  • Parents want information to help them understand their child's learning journey and how they can best support this
  • Information about additional support needs has to be clear and should be integrated into the main school information
  • Parents of children with additional support needs want more opportunities to communicate with the school about their child's needs, to aid the school's understanding
  • Schools should signpost further sources of support for parents of children with additional support needs

When information is wanted

  • Information is wanted when it is relevant and in plenty of time for making decisions
  • Ongoing, up-to-date, information is wanted, not just a once a year "snap-shot"

Accessing school information

  • Information needs to be available in a wide range of formats considering all equality issues to meet the needs of all parents
  • Online is the favoured format for half of respondents to the online consultation, online seen as:
    - easier to update
    - cheaper
    - more environmentally friendly
  • There is an acknowledgement that hard copies are still required
  • Face-to-face communication is highly valued

The role of parents/Parent Councils

  • Seen as important for parents and Parent Councils to be given opportunities to be involved in producing school information
  • Parents want to be given a choice about how to get involved - there was most interest in reviewing and commenting on draft information
  • Benefits of involving parents/Parent Councils were seen to include:
    - Ensuring information is relevant to parents
    - Ensuring information is "parent-friendly"
  • Suggestions that pupils could be involved too - to improve accessibility of information for parents and provide insights from a pupil's point of view.

The role of the Scottish Government/Local Authorities

  • Seen to be a role for Scottish Government/Local Authorities in providing guidance on core information - especially statistical information
  • A national approach to school information would allow for consistency when comparing schools
  • However, flexibility for schools to add their own information was also seen as very important, and guidelines shouldn't be too restrictive

The overall report of the consultation on School Handbooks and Better Information for Parents can be accessed via:


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