Section C – Guidance for Education authorities
Involving and engaging parents
Strategy for parental involvement
1. The Act requires each education authority to prepare, have in place and regularly update a strategy document setting out their policies for parental involvement and engagement. These ‘parental involvement strategies’ must cover the authority’s ‘duties’ and what they will do to:
- support the engagement of parents in their own child’s learning, and in the life of the school;
- give advice and information to parents in respect of their own child;
- promote the establishment of Parent Councils in schools as an important aspect of parental representation, and support their operation, and;
- establish a complaints procedure for their duties under the Act.
Developing the strategy
2. When developing or reviewing its strategy the education authority must seek and listen to the views of all those who may be interested in how it will carry out its duties, or manage its complaints procedures. This includes taking account of the views of parents, Parent Councils, pupils across all of its schools and any other person the authority believes it is important to include.
3. The education authority should involve parents with differing experiences in the drafting of the strategy. This is to ensure that it reflects the broad range of parental perspectives. The authority should consider how they gather the views of parents using a variety of methods that are effective, proportionate and meet the needs of parents in their area. This may include involving parents in more formal settings such as in Parent Council meetings, as part of a working, planning, reference or focus group, or using less formal methods such as surveys, workshop style events, online consultations, polls or discussion events. Local authorities should consider the ways in which they can support these methods of consultation. The should draw on the expertise of their staff who work closely with schools and local communities. It is important to ensure that as wide a range of views from parents and the wider community are obtained in the development of the strategy.
4. The views of early years providers and parents of children who attend early learning and childcare settings should also be considered when developing or reviewing the strategy. Pupils should also have the opportunity to have their say on the development of the strategies and this can be done through formal consultation with groups such as Pupil / School Councils or local authority youth forums, or through less formal methods of consultation such as surveys, online consultations or discussion events.
5. Once it is published education authorities should ensure their parental involvement and engagement strategy is easily accessible. The education authority should also have arrangements in place which allow parents to access its strategy through the school or its Parent Council.
6. Schools are an important part of our communities and some larger schools may serve more than one identifiable community. Schools are also closely linked to a number of statutory and voluntary organisations that provide services and support to communities. These important links to a wider group of expertise should be utilised and captured when authorities draft their strategy for parental involvement. The strategy must take account of the different make up, circumstances and needs of each community which it covers. The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 sets out a framework which local authorities should consider when developing policies or strategies, ensuring appropriate arrangements are made to fully involve local people and communities. The aspirations of the Act can also be supported by approaches such as participatory budgeting which involves local communities in financial decisions about the design and delivery of services. More information is available at the https://pbscotland.scot/
7. In developing their strategy for parental involvement the education authority should take account of Education Scotland’s quality indicators outlined in the How good is our school? self-evaluation guidance for schools and local authorities.
Early Learning and Childcare Settings
8. The main provisions of the Act apply to pupils in primary or secondary schools run by the local authority. However the definition of ‘pupil’ includes a child who is under school age if that child is in attendance at an education authority primary school, including those children in the school who are of pre-school age and attend a nursery at 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.
9. Involvement and engagement with parents in their children’s learning from the early years can also help to make this involvement and engagement easier when children move into school. In line with the GIRFEC – Getting it Right for Every Child - approach, involving and engaging parents from the early years supports trusting relationships. This can make it easier for families to get help early to address any needs, risks or concerns, and prevent them from getting worse.
10. It is therefore best practice for authorities to engage with providers of early learning and childcare when developing and reviewing their strategy for parental involvement. The national standard for funded early learning and childcare providers includes a requirement that parents and carers are supported to engage in their child's learning and development. To attain funded status, early learning and childcare settings must meet the quality requirements set out in the national standard. Specifically:
Sub-criteria 5.1 – “There is open and regular communication with parents and carers about the work of the setting and families are meaningfully involved in influencing change”.
Sub-criteria 5.2 – “Parents and carers are supported to engage in their child’s learning and development”.
Topics for Education authorities to consider when developing parental involvement strategies
11. Some of the key issues which the parental involvement strategy should cover include:
12. In meeting their duties under the Equality Act 2010 Section 149 and the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012, education authorities must take account of equality issues . They must have regard to how their strategy will promote equality, prevent discrimination, harassment and victimisation and foster good relations between people who have a protected characteristic and those who do not . This should include consideration of how to ensure that children and their families are not discriminated against on grounds of, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation, as these are the protected characteristics listed in the Act. In the 2010 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. As well as the categories noted above education authorities must also have regard to Part 1 of the Equality Act 2010, which sets out the duties placed on them when making decisions of a strategic nature to give due regard to the desirability of reducing the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage. Annex A in this guidance provides a brief summary of the main equality legislation to which education authorities should have regard.
Involving all parents
13. In the particular context of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006, education authorities should take into account factors that may act as barriers, discourage or inhibit parents’ involvement in their children’s learning, education or inhibit contact with the school. There are a variety of reasons why some parents are not fully included in the life and work of their children’s school or do not have access to the tools and support they need to be fully engaged in their children’s learning. For some parents their own experience of school education may have been a negative one. This may undermine their confidence to become involved in their children’s school and engage with their children’s learning. Education authorities and schools must adapt their communication and make appropriate arrangements to ensure that all parents have opportunities to be involved in the life and work of their children’s school and engaged in their child’s learning, recognising that a one fits all approach will not work for all parents and families. This includes considering what effect their current structures and working practices may be having on encouraging or excluding parents and families from being more involved in their children’s school.
14. Education authorities must recognise the needs of different groups of parents such as those in mobile families, those for whom English is an additional language, foster parents, grandparents or other carers. Education authorities must also consider how their strategy supports parents and families of children in the following categories:
- Families of children with additional support needs.
15. The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended) (“2004 Act”) places duties on education authorities to identify, provide for and keep under review the needs of pupils for whom they are responsible. An additional support need can arise for any reason and be of short or long term duration. Additional support may be required to overcome needs arising from learning environment; health or disability; family circumstances or social and emotional factors.
16. The 2004 Act gives parents a number of rights, including the right to access independent mediation and adjudication. Parents can also appeal certain decisions to the Additional Support Needs jurisdiction of the Health and Education Chamber. The Act also gives children (aged 12-15) and young people (aged 16+) a number of rights to be involved and supported in decisions that are made about their education and support.
17. Education authorities are therefore placed under a number of duties by the Act and the 2004 Act. As such, authorities should consider how they will support families of children with additional support needs when creating and reviewing their strategies for parental involvement and engagement. They should ensure that these strategies take account of the rights of parents of children with additional support needs and seek to address some the specific issues which may affect some parents of children with additional support needs. This should include decisions about inclusion of children with additional support needs in mainstream education, and the presumption of mainstreaming under the Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000, fair treatment of children with additional support needs in schools as well as specific rights of complaint and appeal.
18. Further information on the duties placed on Education authorities with regard to parents of children with additional support needs can be found in the ‘Supporting Children's Learning: Code of Practice’, available at:
19. Parents can access advice and support from the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning, This service is funded by the Scottish Government and is provided by Enquire. Further information is available at: https://enquire.org.uk/
- Families impacted by poverty
20. Section 3B of the Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000 requires (in broad terms) that education authorities, when making a strategic decision or deciding to implement one, to have regard to the need to address inequalities in educational outcome that arise in consequence of socio-economic disadvantage. As such education authorities must consider how their plans for parental involvement and engagement support families affected by poverty or inequality.
- Looked after children
21. 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 under section 25 or are subject to one of the specified orders made under the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 including a permanence order; and any children who are subject to a Compulsory Supervision Order under the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011.
22. It is legally required that all looked after children should have the extra support they need to get the most out of their education and achieve their full potential, as set out in the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended). The education authority strategy for parental involvement should demonstrate a commitment to providing help, encouragement and support to address any additional support needs of looked after children and to ensure that they have equal opportunities.
23. Local authorities should, in most cases, and where this is in the best interests of the child, act jointly with both parents and carers in relation to the education of children who are looked after on a full-time basis away from home. In order to take account of this, the authority’s strategy for parental involvement should complement their arrangements for integrated working with other professionals, agencies and services, working with the children and their families.
24. It is important that local authorities and schools take account of the views and feelings of the child who is looked after 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 the involvement of parents difficult or distressing. In all circumstances, it is important for education authorities to consider the impact on children when gaining their views to ensure this does not to put extra pressure on them.
25. Most parents of looked after children retain their parental rights and responsibilities regardless of their child’s involvement with the care system. Many parents who do not live with their children still wish to be involved in their education. 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. The local authority responsible for the child will be able to advise of the status of the parents. Education authorities and schools should work in partnership with parents and carers to encourage them to support the child or young person to maximise their educational potential.
26. Some parents and carers have shared care arrangements with local authorities which may mean a child living in more than one household. Education authorities must recognise that some children and young people may live at different households at different times. It is important that schools hold the accurate details of foster carers and other care arrangements so that both parents (to include all the child’s parents) and carers are kept fully informed about their child’s schooling.
27. Where a child or young person is accommodated by the local authority, the educational establishments must ensure all relevant information in relation to the child or young person is provided to both carers and parents.
28. The above guidance does not apply when a looked after child or young person’s personalised child’s plan specifically states that there should be no involvement with the parent, even if they retain parental rights and responsibilities. Where contact with parents is not possible, or their contact has been minimised, educational establishments should seek to establish which other family members, such as grandparents, could support child or young person in their learner journey.
29. Further information on involving and engaging parents in the education of looked after children and young people can be found in the ‘Getting it right for looked after children and young people strategy’:
|Care system||All of the services and care organisations, which support looked after children and young people, including children and young people in foster, kinship or residential care or who are looked after at home with support from the local authority.|
|Care arrangements||The arrangements in place to look after and care for individual children and young people.|
|Accommodated by the local authority||Children and young people who are looked after by the local authority to some extent and who may live in local authority accommodation or are supported by the local authority.|
|Educational establishments||In this document this term is used as another word to describe the public schools covered by the Act. In other contexts this term can also include other education settings such as Early Learning and Childcare settings.|
- Children with parents at other households and other parents/carers
30. As described in paragraph 4 of Section B, the definition of ‘parent’ in the Act is the broad one used in the Education Children (Scotland) Act 1980. The education authority strategy should take account of the varying family circumstances to which the definition of parent applies. For example, the Act’s provisions extend to parents who may not live in the same household as the child, or where children live with different parents at different times The definition of ‘Parent’ can also include a person who has been allocated parental rights or responsibilities to be exercised on behalf of a natural parent.
31. 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 education establishments have accurate and up to date information which allows them to continue to support parents to be fully involved in the education of their child or young person. The education authority strategy, therefore, should include the arrangements they have in place to assist parents to be fully involved in their education, whatever the circumstances. 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.
32. Parents should be fully involved in the planning processes in relation to meeting the child or young person’s educational needs education authorities and schools must do as much as they can to support the continued involvement of parents who may not live at the same address as their child in planning processes. 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 listen to the views of the child in such circumstances, recognising that in some circumstances children may feel stress and pressure if their parents do not agree.
Placements out-with local authority
33. The duty on an education authority to promote parental involvement and engagement 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 out-with their home area, whether or not by virtue of a placing request, the host education authority becomes responsible for taking 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 which placed the child in that school 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.
34. Where an education 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.
|Home area||The local authority area in which the child or young person lives.|
|Host education authority||An education authority outside of a child or young person’s ‘home area’ where they go to school.|
|Special school||Schools (including classes and units within schools) that provide education wholly or mainly for children and young people with additional support needs.|
|Placing request||A request made by a parent or carer to place their child or young person in a specific school which may be out with the normal school catchment area.|
|Additional support for learning||Support given to children and young people who require more, or different support to that which is regularly provided in schools or early learning and childcare settings to children of the same age.|
Performance and Improvement: Delivering the priorities of the National Improvement Framework for education
35. The first "National Improvement Framework for Scottish Education (NIF) and Improvement Plan" was first published on 13 December 2016. The plan and framework, which is refreshed on an annual basis, sets out the Scottish Government's vision for Scotland's children and young people's progress in learning. The NIF includes a specific “driver” or section on parental engagement. More information relating to the NIF can be found at:
36. Section 3D of the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000 (as inserted by section 2 of the Education (Scotland) Act 2016) introduces a requirement on education authorities to carry out their duty to ensure the delivery of improvement in the quality of school education which is provided in the schools they manage, with a view to achieving the strategic priorities of the NIF. This means that education authorities will have to be able to demonstrate how they have sought, and continue to seek, to deliver against the strategic priorities of the NIF. This will be achieved, at least in part, through the preparation of annual plans and reports under section 3F, 3H and section 6; sub-section 3 of the 2000 Act. In preparing these annual reports local authorities must seek parents’ views on the quality of their child's education and the support provided to parents to actively engage in their child's education and schooling. It is recommended that education authorities consider how their strategy for parental involvement links and relates to their responsibilities under the NIF and associated legislation.
School improvement plans
37. Under the 2000 Act as amended, the education authority is required to ensure that a ‘school improvement plan’ is prepared for each of its schools aimed at improving the quality of education provided by the school. 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.
38. School improvement plans must be produced on an annual basis, with the task being delegated from education authorities to individual Headteachers and school leaders. The development of these plans must be underpinned by consultation with parents and carers among others. Schools must take account of the authority’s strategy for parental involvement and engagement when developing their plans. In doing so, they must also ensure that the objectives set for the school includes objectives which cover the engagement and involvement of parents in the education provided to the pupil and to the school’s pupils generally. The authority should have arrangements in place to provide access to the plan and progress reports on it, and for parents of children at the school to receive summaries of the plan.
Promoting parental involvement and engagement
39. Under the Act education authorities are required to promote the engagement of parents in their own child’s education as well as the involvement in education provided by their child’s school to pupils generally. ‘School education’ includes an authority’s duty to ensure there are adequate facilities for social, cultural and recreation activities and for physical education and training. The development of the authority’s strategy for parental involvement is one way to promote parental involvement and engagement, but there will be a variety of other ways for an education authority to promote parental involvement and engagement.
Engagement in children’s education and schooling, and keeping parents informed
40. Education authorities must respond to any reasonable request for advice and information from the parent of any child attending one of their schools in relation to the education provided to the child. 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.
41. 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 be fully involved. Schools should therefore use a range of methods when communicating with parents, recognising that different methods will work best for different parents. Some of the methods schools may use include:
- phone calls and text messaging
- letters and newsletters
- face to face informal contact
- e-mails, websites and blogs
- The use of social media
- parent information evenings and parent workshops
42. Parents have the right to access their child’s educational records except in certain circumstances such as situations where allowing access to the record would be, in the opinion of the education authority, likely to cause significant distress or harm to the pupil or any other 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. There are a range of ways that schools can – and do – promote dialogues. For example:
- By inviting 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
- By providing parents with the opportunity to discuss their child’s learning goals at parents’ evenings or an alternative meeting opportunity
- By arranging additional opportunities for parents to meet the teacher to discuss their child’s achievements and next steps for learning.
43. Under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 certain children, young people and 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.
44. School leaders and school staff should also consider how parents who live in a different household from their child can be kept informed of their child’s progress and have policies in place to ensure this happens. They should take account of any child protection considerations where these apply. Where it acts as the corporate parent of a ‘looked after’ child, the local authority should ensure 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 out with 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.
45. The GIRFEC – Getting It Right for Every Child - approach underpins all policies and services for children, young people and parents to ensure that they get the right help, at the right time, from the right people. Schools can play a fundamental part in this approach through the provision of a named person who is known and easily identifiable to the child, young person and parents; and, who can provide initial support as well as early access to a wider network of support, assessment and planning. The wellbeing of each child is promoted, supported and safeguarded through building relationships and partnerships with children, young people and their parents, based on trust and mutual respect.
46. All parents who have a child attending a public school are automatically members of the Parent Forum for that school. ‘Parent Forum’ is a term which describes the parents of all children and young people who attend a particular school, including those attending a nursery class at that school. Membership of the Parent Forum allows parents to be fully involved in key decisions made by their children’s school and enables their collective view to be represented on all matters of interest to parents. Members of the Parent Forum may make their views known to the headteacher of the school, the local authority or Education Scotland. The Parent Forum may choose to be represented by a Parent Council which, if one does not already exist, they can chose to establish. In most schools, the Parent Forum will normally be represented by a Parent Council, though the existence of a Parent Council does not replace the broader responsibilities to support parental involvement and engagement. In some schools, where there are only a small number of pupils, parents may choose to have the Forum itself represent their views.
47. Schools should consider what types of communication are most effective for members of the Parent Forum, recognising that different approaches will work best for different parents. Schools must ensure parents receive information regarding the life and work of the school and of school events, information on the curriculum and subject choice and information on their own child or young person’s education and learning. It is important to identify and develop effective systems of communication in each school, taking time to ask parents what method of communication work best for them. School reports and parents’ evenings are two examples of ways in which schools can pass on information to parents about their child. However, schools which successfully build strong two way communication with parents employ a wide range of formal and informal approaches that are reviewed and updated regularly.
48. Successful partnerships between parents and schools are often built through less formal direct contact and this should be encouraged. Other forms of contact may include telephone calls, letters, e-mails, text messaging, newsletters, school websites, social media approaches, parent information evenings, parent workshops and drop-in surgeries, among others.
49. Engagement and events led by parents and often supported by school staff can prove very effective in engaging and involving parents. As part of their communication strategies schools should work with parents to explore the best ways of allowing them to share ideas with the school on improving practice. More information on good practice in communicating with parents is available from Education Scotland’s Parentzone Scotland website at:
Supporting transitions to primary school and contacting prospective Parent Forum members
50. Each education authority should consider how it can effectively engage with and involve parents whose children are moving into school education from early learning or childcare, or from primary into secondary school. This should include steps to ensure that all parents with children attending, or about to start, at their schools are aware of the arrangements for communicating with parents and the work of the Parent Council. This might be done by way of an introductory letter from the authority or the headteacher of the school outlining the information and support available to parents in terms of partnership and involvement in their child’s school education.
51. The education authority should consider the support or advice that might it might be able to offer to Parent Councils in order to help the Parent Council to make contact with parents of prospective pupils of the school, or with providers of early learning and childcare.
Promoting the establishment of Parent Councils
52. The Act requires education authorities to promote the establishment and provide support for, the operation of Parent Councils. In general, this will mean supporting the creation of a Parent Council in each school, if one does not already exist. The Act also allows for the establishment of a ‘Combined Parent Council’ in certain circumstances. (See Section D of this document.)
53. The education authority can indicate to a school’s Parent Forum that they intend to prepare a “scheme” for establishing a Parent Council at schools within their authority, however the decision on whether or not to establish a Parent Council is a matter for the members of the Parent Forum at that school. While education authorities are responsible for promoting the establishment of a Parent Council in each of their schools they must have regard to the needs of individual Parent Forums and schools when doing so, allowing parents to reach decisions on arrangements that meet the individual needs and circumstances of the Parent Forum and school. School and education authority staff 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 the establishment of a Parent Council
54. When they are preparing a scheme for the establishment of a Parent Council for the school the education authority must notify all parents in the Parent Forum in writing of their intention to do so. 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.
55. The arrangements to establish a Parent Council should allow parents the opportunity to discuss arrangements for their Parent Council and how it will operate and represent the wider Parent Forum. One way to do this is to establish a school working group to assist the process as set out below:
- Education authority notifies members of the Parent Forum of its intention to establish a scheme for the establishment of a Parent Council.
- School arranges an open meeting of parents to set up a school working group and seek to recruit members of the Parent Forum using a range of communication methods.
- A working group, supported by local authority, explores options for establishing a Parent Council and its constitution.
- The working groups discusses options with the Parent Forum and gathers parents’ views using a range of communication methods.
- The working group reports back to education authority with a suggested scheme for Parent Council arrangements and constitution.
- The education authority submits a proposal to all members of the Parent Forum inviting them to express their preference from options outlined by the school working group, ensuring all Parent Forum members have the opportunity to participate in discussions.
- The education authority implements the arrangements agreed by the majority of parents, in a ballot in which all parents have the opportunity to participate.
56. The above is simply an example. It is important that the education authority, school leader and Parent Forum find an approach which works in the context of their school.
57. The authority, in notifying parents of their intention to set up a scheme for the establishment of a Parent Council, must also invite parents to indicate if they wish someone other than the authority to prepare the scheme, or that no scheme is prepared. In most circumstances it is expected that parents, with support from the school and the authority, will be able to agree to arrangements for the establishment of a Parent Council. 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. For example, this may be most appropriate in the case of a very small school.
58. Parents must have reasonable time to consider their preferred option for their school. Therefore, the length and shape of the overall process is likely to vary from school to school depending on the size of its Parent Forum. 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 education 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. Education authorities and Schools should also consider how they ensure these documents remain available to members of the Parent Forum, by adding them to their school website or keeping copies at the school reception.
|Corporate parents and corporate parenting duties||All organisations or individuals, listed in schedule 4 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, whose duties include:
Being alert to matters which adversely affect the wellbeing of looked after children and care leavers;
Assessing the needs of those children and young people for the services and support they provide;
Promoting the interests of those children and young people;
Seeking to provide opportunities which will promote the wellbeing of looked after children and care leavers;
Taking action to help children and young people access such opportunities and make use of the services and support provided.
All corporate parents must prepare, publish and review a ‘corporate parenting plan’, which details how they will exercise their ‘corporate parenting responsibilities’ and other Part 9 duties. The Act encourages collaborative working between corporate parents to develop, enact and monitor plans.
|Constitution||A document which states the formal arrangements for a group or body, setting out how it operates and the rules it must follow.|
|Working group||A group established to consider an issue and come up with proposals, suggestions or recommendations for a specific course of action.|
|Make representations||To formally present an agreed view to an official body. For example, for a Parent Council to present a view on behalf of parents to the education authority|
Advising and informing Parent Councils
59. 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. Education authorities should consider what processes they have in place to do this in a timely and effective manner. 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 the involvement of parents in the school in line with the authority’s duties under the Act.
Supporting Parent Councils
60. 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.
61. The education authority may also provide a Parent Council with services or accommodation free of charge. This might include, but is not restricted to, administrative support, or digital support to use the school’s website or social media channels, email access, use of photocopying services, distribution of council materials to parents, provision of rooms or other suitable accommodation.
Representations from Parent Councils
62. The Headteacher must inform the Parent Council of the school’s arrangements for consultation with parents. The Parent Council can make representations on these arrangements and other matters of interest to parents to the headteacher. The headteacher must take account of these representations and do as much as they can to incorporate them into their processes for carrying out their functions, and, in the case of the headteacher, the duties of the post. The headteacher, in the first instance, must reply to all representations received from the Parent Council and should do so in a timely, clear and efficient manner.
Parent Councils and appointment of senior staff
63. The appointment of a headteacher or deputy headteacher is very important to a school and its community. Parents have a particular role to play in the process. The Act places a duty on education authorities to involve the Parent Council of a school, if any, where they intend to make a permanent appointment of a headteacher or deputy headteacher. This involvement should extend from the beginning to the end of the recruitment and appointment process, including in 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 with their functions in relation to the appointments process.
64. The education authority must inform the Parent Council of their arrangements for filling senior posts and immediately make them aware of 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 they should pay due regard to any supporting guidance. Currently these regulations are: Parental Involvement in Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher Appointments (Scotland) Regulations 2007.
Resolving differences and handling complaints
The Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006 placed duties on education authorities to have clear complaints processes in place when dealing with maters of parental involvement. This section of the statutory guidance outlines what those duties are and how they must be managed.
The Act came into force at a time when authority-wide complaints processes may not have been in place in all areas. Most, if not all, education authorities will now follow their local authorities centralised complaints policy which deals with all complaints made about matters which the local authority has responsibility for.
These complaints policies are linked to a formal right of appeal through the office of The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) who has a wide remit, covering many public services in Scotland. The powers and duties of the SPSO come from the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002 including distinct areas of statutory functions over: the final stage for complaints about most devolved public services in Scotland including councils, the health service, prisons, water and sewerage providers, Scottish Government, universities and colleges and specific powers and responsibilities to publish complaints handling procedures, and to monitor and support best practice in complaints handling.
Further details on the most up to date complaints procedure for your area will be available through your local authorities website and further details about appeals and the role of the SPSO can be found at: https://www.spso.org.uk/about-us
65. Sometimes parents and schools or education authorities disagree about the education of children and young people. Some parents may be unhappy with an element of their children’s schooling or education, or the practice or approach of a school or education authority. Often these differences can be minimised or resolved through strong communication between parents and schools and by working together and treating each other with mutual respect. Unfortunately, sometimes these differences cannot be resolved by working together and in these instances it is important that the education authority has a clear complaints procedure. Parents and carers must be able to use this complaints process to gain a formal resolution to ongoing issues which they have been unable to resolve informally. The education authority’s strategy must set out the authority’s arrangements for resolving any differences and handling complaints from a person, or someone acting on their behalf, in connection with how the authority carries out, or fails to carry out, its functions under the Act.
66. 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 engagement and their duty to promote and support the operation of Parent Council. The authority must 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. They must review and update the complaints procedure regularly and they must give a copy of the procedure free of charge to anyone who requests it.65. Sometimes parents and schools or education authorities disagree about the education of children and young people. Some parents may be unhappy with an element of their children’s schooling or education, or the practice or approach of a school or education authority. Often these differences can be minimised or resolved through strong communication between parents and schools and by working together and treating each other with mutual respect. Unfortunately, sometimes these differences cannot be resolved by working together and in these instances it is important that the education authority has a clear complaints procedure. Parents and carers must be able to use this complaints process to gain a formal resolution to ongoing issues which they have been unable to resolve informally. The education authority’s strategy must set out the authority’s arrangements for resolving any differences and handling complaints from a person, or someone acting on their behalf, in connection with how the authority carries out, or fails to carry out, its functions under the Act.
67. 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;
- be simple to understand and use;
- be clear about time scales for action and keeping people informed;
- be confidential;
- provide suitable solutions, and;
- provide information on next steps in the event that parents are unsatisfied with the result of the complaints process.
68. The education authority should consider how complaints connected to 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. The education authority must ensure that its complaints processes are simple, efficient and parents are provided with a single point of contact. The authority’s arrangements for dealing with complaints should be set out in its strategy for parental involvement.
69. Given Parent Councils’ role in representing the collective view of parents, the education authority must consult the Parent Council on their arrangements for a complaints procedure. Parent Councils can also make general representations on matters arising from individual complaints where they feel that these complaints relate to issues which are of wider concern to the school’s parent forum.