Welcoming parents to Scotland and the Scottish schools

Welcoming parents to Scotland and the Scottish schools

i Oct 22nd No Comments by

A few weeks ago we were invited to join Stirling Council’s English as an Additional Language teachers Tricia Davenport and David Fletcher for an information session for new parents about Scottish Education. The session was a whistle stop tour of the schools system in Scotland that answered a lot of questions and helped me to finally understand how the new exam system works. Among the questions answered were:

  • If my child is doing really well can they move up a year? (No, but the teacher will make sure they are getting work that is challenging for them)
  • Can my child use their phone for translation? (Yes in class but not in exams- they can bring in a dictionary and it’s good for children to get practice using them)
  • Will I be fined if I take my children on holiday during term time? (No-in Scotland, if families go on holiday during term time, this will usually be recorded as an unauthorised absence, (there are exceptions to this) and it is up to the education authority to decide on the sanctions they will use. If you need to take your children out of school during term time, please speak to the school for advice.)
  • Do I need to buy materials for school? (Schools provide all the textbooks but parents will need to buy things like pencils and pens)

We know from our work with parents who are new to Scotland that they have a lot of questions about the education system. From the fact that children in the UK start school age 5 (unlike many European countries where children don’t start formal education until they are 6 or 7) to the lack of formal testing in primary school there are big differences between parents’ own experience of school and the way their children are being taught. Information events like the one I attended in Stirling are vital as they give parents the opportunity to ask questions and understand how things work in Scotland. To make sure that the parents fully understood the session translators were provided including two sixth year pupils (from China and Poland). Tricia and David helped them to prepare before the session and both the young interpreters sat with a parent and explained what was being said by the presenter. As well as making sure that the parents were given the information in their own language the student interpreters will get certificates recognising their work. By giving them the chance to use their linguistic skills the EAL service was showing them the value of speaking two languages and to recognise what a gift bilingualism is.

Reaching out and engaging with these families can make a huge difference and give them reassurance and a sense of belonging. As David said, “We realise how traumatic it can be for families who move to a new education system, and there can be significant differences between education in Scotland and in other countries. These sessions are a good opportunity to meet parents in an informal setting, to discuss concerns and questions.”

Thriving or surviving? We want to hear your views

i Oct 20th No Comments by

Gathered Together logo4children-logo2_jpgweb

Bemis Scotland and 4Children have joined together to put on 3 workshops here in Scotland where you can give us your views on what it is like to be a parent or carer in today’s world.  Please take time to join us at one of the workshops on 30th October and give us your views.

4Children Inquiry Surveys – Britain’s Families: thriving or surviving?

Children and families charity 4Children has recently launched a major Inquiry into modern family life in Britain. Britain’s Families: thriving or surviving?” asks parents, carers and young people across the country about what it is like to live in Britain today. We want to uncover the challenges and opportunities they face, and ask what can be done to better support family life. You can read more about the Inquiry at: http://4children.org.uk/Page/thriving-or-surviving 

As part of the project, there will be three focus groups in Glasgow on Friday 30th October, for parents and carers who would be interested in participating.  BEMIS Scotland are particularly keen to make sure that the voice of the diverse ethnic minority community is heard.  The focus groups will be taking place at Centrum Building, 38 Queen Street, Glasgow at the following times:


When:          Friday 30th October

At:                11.00 am – 12.30 pm

OR                1.00 pm – 2.30 pm

OR                3.00 pm – 4.30 pm

Where:         The Board Room, 1st Floor, Centrum Building, 38 Queen Street, Glasgow

Please book your session here

If you have any questions please contact liz.mcconnell@bemis.org.uk

If you are unable to attend a focus group but are interested in taking part in the Inquiry, 4Children are also running two surveys to gather views from people in England, Scotland and Wales. One is for children and young people (aged under 21) and the other is for parents and carers. These are available via the following links:

Children and Young People Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/inquiryYP

Parents and Carers Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/inquiryparent

The surveys take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. To thank those who participate for their time, we are offering everyone who completes one of the surveys the chance to be entered into a prize draw to win £50 of Love to Shop vouchers.