On International Migrants day (18 December) we thought we would look back at some of the parents we’ve met over the past year who have come to Scotland. These parents are now an integral part of their school communities and through their involvement have helped to make their children’s schools, and Scotland, a richer place.
Jessie is originally from China, she got involved in her children’s nursery through the well-chosen words project and has helped other parents by translating materials into Chinese.
Ewelina (from Poland) and Haleema (from the UK) are parents at Pikeman nursery, with the help of EAL teacher Labinder Sekhon, they have been able to support their children with their learning- understanding the importance of their involvement and to see the crucial role that they have in supporting their children’s learning.
Christian is originally from France, he became involved in his daughters’ secondary school and joined the Parent Council. This gave him the opportunity to get involved in the early days of developing the Curriculum for Excellence as well as getting to know the local community and understanding the Scottish education system
Maria is from Bulgaria, she is an active member of Golfhill Primary Parent Council and also joined our workshop of Parental Involvement in November- sharing her experiences of being involved and the difference it has made for her and her family.
We are delighted to have a guest blog from Chloe Stewart from Pollokshields Primary Parent Council sharing their experience of running a winter arts festival that celebrated all the cultures in the school
‘He’s behind you!’ The front row were in a frenzy, trying to alert the Jester in the performance of Sleeping Beauty, taking place in the school gym. A typical Christmas scene, in which many of the audience were clutching the clay diva lamps they had made upstairs in the craft area (where reindeer could be decoupaged and jewellery made as well), with the sounds of the African drumming troupe echoing above, and Father Christmas and real live reindeer outside in the Winter Wonderland (until that morning the playground shed).
This was the Pollokshields Primary School Multicultural Winter Arts Festival, the fruit of the hard work of the staff, parents and pupils of the school, and an Awards for All Scotland grant. The event was open to the community and local shops displayed the children’s posters.
The school is on the southside of Glasgow, in an area which census data records as having an ‘ethnic minority’ population of 53%. 82% of school pupils in the area are recorded as ‘ethnic minority’. The school serves families from multiple cultures and the Festival showcased many of them. Street dancing, bhangra, Scottish country dancing and classical Indian dance were all performed, by school pupils as well as professional groups, and many toddlers (including my own!) were entranced by the storytelling sessions. The culinary traditions of the area were reflected in the enthusiasm with which pizza, samosas, Christmas tree biscuits and Irn Bru were being consumed in the dining hall…
Crowds were waiting for the doors to open at 4.30pm and the Winter Wonderland was still in demand nearly 4 hours later. And the verdict from those who attended? From our parents’ Facebook group:
‘my girls didn’t want to come home’
‘Great team and community spirit and total fun for all ages’
‘Winter Arts Festival was great!’
‘The school looked lovely’
The Scottish Education Awards recognise schools and centres that have developed a vibrant and progressive culture and climate of continuous innovation.
The culture and ethos should promote respect, ambition and achievement while improving outcomes for all learners in ways which eliminate inequity.
Nominations should include practical activities and projects that the establishment has undertaken, detailing the impact these strategies have had on pupils, staff, parents and the community.
In what ways has this partnership impacted on:
Nominations close at 12 noon on Monday 15 February 2016
NOMINATE TODAY AT http://www.scottisheducationawards.org.uk/
Christian Allard is originally from France, he became involved in his daughters’ secondary school Parent Council simply because he wanted to offer the school his support. Involvement in the Parent Council led to involvement in the Community Council, getting involved in the development of the Curriculum for Excellence and eventually to Christian becoming a member of the Scottish Parliament. Hear Christian talking about the impact getting involved in the Parent Council made on him
Our bespoke support for schools and Parent Councils is starting to take effect. One of the first things we do when meeting with the school and Parent Councils is ask them about what they are doing. Using SPTC’s model of the areas of work for Parent Councils (school matters, communication, campaigning and social and fundraising) we get a full picture of what’s happening in the school, what opportunities parents have to get involved and the areas where the school and Parent Council want to develop. Simply having the chance to reflect on what they are doing can be really valuable to Parent Councils- an opportunity to see the wider picture beyond planning the Christmas Fair and recruiting volunteers to help with school trips. Having these discussions often prompts some great ideas for what they could do to over-come barriers like language- including advertising for help translating facebook posts into other languages or building links with local community groups.
As well as providing the space to think about how to engage with ethnic minority parents, Gathered Together is able to share the barriers that ethnic minority parents have shared with us. One of the issues is simply that parents who are not from Scotland don’t know that they can get involved
No one asked me (Mother, Iran)
It can really help to approach parents directly and ask them to help with something specific that uses their skills and experience- such as helping with “language of the month”. When we were discussing this with a teacher she said
Of course, we don’t just ask the children with their hands up to answer questions (teacher, Corpus Christi Primary)
Thinking of how to directly engage with those parents who aren’t involved and may not even be aware that they can be is the first step to promoting parental involvement in the school. We are really excited about the bespoke support and looking forward to sharing more of the ideas that are coming out of our work- keep an eye on this blog