Reaching Out to Families

June 2006

Here is our report on the seminar for front-line professionals who provide home school link, family support or parent work

Follow the links below for a summary of what participants said.

Participants said that working holistically requires:

  • Positive personal relationships – between families and professionals and between professionals
  • Building on strengths and capacities – not working from a deficit model
  • Build empathy
  • Working imaginatively and creatively
  • Taking the child and family with you – identifying the purpose and benefits of engagement
  • Recognising the individual experiences, needs, rights and responsibilities of each child, parent and family
  • Taking a broad perspective (which enables the worker to help identify issues such as literacy) and seeing beyond the presenting behaviour
  • Interagency approaches
  • Shared assessment with a clear lead person/agency
  • Consistency and time to allow work to deepen.

Participants saw success as being rooted in:

  • Change – with the individual or family coping, blossoming and enjoying themselves and their experience of family.
  • Trust between the family and services
  • The family working as a family unit, and being able to resolve issues themselves (or being able to access help when they need it)
  • Children with hope, aspirations and goals (based on self-awareness)
  • Job satisfaction from workers
  • Good attendance at school, attainment and a sense of inclusion
  • Being able to eventually withdraw services and support and the family continuing to progress
  • Improved relationships within the family, the community, with school and other services
  • The service user themselves seeing changes and improvements; with a recognition that they have been the key in the success.

Participants identified that a balance is found through:

  • Good assessment
  • Person centred and personalised approaches
  • Mediation
  • A recognition that change can be a slow process
  • Listening to and empowering the child and parent
  • Building resilience and networks of support
  • Working on the positive; avoiding a deficit model
  • Recognising that needs can change over time.

Participants identified that movement in this situation is found through:

  • Listening
  • Consistency and persistence
  • Clarity about purpose and outcomes
  • Building honest relationships
  • Effective interagency communication and working together
  • Using advocacy
  • Developing user participation.

Participants identified that connecting with mobile families comes through:

  • Building relationships and trust
  • Cultural awareness
  • Provision of adequate translation/interpretation services
  • Good recording and sharing of information between agencies
  • Ensuring families have a good link/lead worker they can communicate with easily
  • Access to advocacy
  • Sensitivity

Participants identified that what people need and value most is:

  • Services that listen – and are non judgemental
  • Time
  • Respect, affirmation and praise
  • Genuine participation in the process of change
  • Achievable goals
  • Practical support

Participants identified that the support workers get and need includes:

  • Individual support and supervision
  • Induction
  • Training
  • Access to the right information and knowledge of what’s available to support families
  • Leadership from managers
  • Acknowledgement and praise
  • Improved professional collaboration, supported by the sharing of good practice
  • Peer support
  • Opportunities to reflect on practice.

The Scottish Schools (Parental involvement) Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 10 May 2006. The Act modernises and strengthens the system for supporting parental involvement in school education. It aims to support parents’ involvement in schools and in their own children’s education and it introduces a more flexible statutory system for parental representation in schools under the management of education authorities.

The main policy objectives of the Act are:
  • To support parents’ involvement in the education provided in public schools and in their own children’s education;
  • To achieve a more flexible and inclusive statutory system for parental representation in schools to replace the ‘one size fits all’ approach of the School Boards system;
  • To strengthen parents’ rights both collectively and individually; and
  • To enable education authorities to modernise their procedures for appointing head-teachers and deputy head-teachers while retaining the principle of parental involvement in any new systems.

The Schools Division within the Scottish Government has been developing a range of materials to help parents support their children’s learning.

Parentzone Website

The Parent Zone team has improved the content, structure and appearance of the Parent Zone website to make it more parent friendly and attract more users. The website is HERE

Making the Difference – Parental Involvement Leaflets

A series of supportive leaflets entitled Making the Difference have been developed and are available in a range of languages. 11 leaflets have been produced so far and they highlight the real difference parents can and do make to their children’s learning. Titles include Homework, Sharing Information, Parents’ evenings, School holidays, Starting a new school year, Out of school learning, Healthy choices, Enterprise in education, New technology in learning, Getting involved in your child’s school and Personal learning planning. Leaflets are available from the Parentzone website HERE

or can be ordered (free of charge) by contacting:

David Sellar 0131 625 6555 or

Involving parents CD-ROM

This CD-ROM contains Case Studies and practical examples of good practice which illustrate how these schools set about helping parents become more involved in their children's education. The schools providing Case Studies were all recommended by either education authorities or HMIE. Examples of the materials used to develop better partnerships with parents are also included.  

If you require further information about the Making the Difference or the CD-ROM, then please contact:

Elaine Pitcairn or 0131 244 0956

Children and young people may disappear from view of schools and education authorities for many reasons.  However, they have a right to education and local authorities have a duty to provide education for all children in their area and to plan and provide support for vulnerable children.  Schools and education authorities must take action to locate and to try to re-engage children in services.

The Scottish Government has funded the Children Missing from Education project to work with education authorities to:

  • Promote the use of systematic procedures in schools and education authorities in searching for children, and enhance practice in transfer of records
  • Develop good and consistent practice when responding to a child or young person becoming missing from an education service
  • Enable effective inter-authority and cross-border location and transfer of information

Voluntary sector organisations often know children and families best, and may have information that is useful in locating children.  By being confident in their practice of recording and appropriate sharing of information in the course of their work with vulnerable and mobile families, they can play a vital role in ensuring that children are safe and well.’ For the handbook “Safe and Well” for schools and education authorities describing good practice in child protection in education and when a child goes missing from education go HERE

For more information about CME (Scotland) and contact details please go HERE