As the Gathered Together Project comes to the end of its funding, I thought it would be a good time to ask the staff team to reflect on some of the aspects of their work over the last 2-3 years. Judy shares her favourite memories from the project.
Ten months ago, I was excited about the prospects of participating in a project that I strongly believed in and am still convinced should continue. Over the years the Gathered Together team has developed a variety of resources to support parents, schools, Parent Councils and community organisations to improve parental involvement- just when the team has acquired the relevant expertise to make a difference, the project is coming to an end!
When I started, I thought making a contribution to the project would be difficult as it had been going on for over two years and most possibilities would have been explored. But there are many aspects and approaches to improving parental involvement, some of which the GT team had only just begun to get to grips with.
Looking back, I think that engaging with community organisations was an important aspect of our work. The lack of understanding about how the Scottish education system works and how parents can support their children is a major challenge for community organisations. Through an Action Learning Set, we were able to share the knowledge and experience gained over the life of our project with participating community organisations. Community practitioners implementing action research at work meant that new strategies were introduced to enable them to provide a better-informed service for families.
Identifying that EM parents and the community organisations that support them are not always up to date with the policy environment is another area we had started developing. There are aspects of child protection that many EM parents do not understand and community organisations could help raise awareness of the legal framework around children. Working with service providers to raise awareness about the diverse cultures could also improve the integration process for families.
I hope the toolkit and the resources developed will reach a wide-range of stakeholders and help support the growing number of children and families coming to Scotland to understand how the school system works and the research we have done about EM parents’ experiences will highlight the need for schools and other education services to put processes in place to support the education of children from different cultural backgrounds and diverse circumstances.
Keeping Children Safe, Healthy and Happy
Since July last year, the Gathered Together team at BEMIS has been engaging with community organisations to find out about their experiences of supporting EM parents on education matters. Through our engagement we found that community practitioners were involved in a wide range of activities to support parents including; supporting parents with school and nursery registration (including accompanying them to the school/nursery), running homework clubs or making referrals, providing information on rights and entitlements, including to clothing grants and school meals, providing ESOL classes/signposting to ESOL classes, helping parents make decisions about what is in the child’s best interest and organising sports activities for young people.
A common issue highlighted by all the community practitioners we engaged with was the lack of awareness by EM parents about the legislative framework around children in Scotland. As a result of this, some parents have found themselves on the wrong side of the law and accounts of children being taken into care for being disciplined by their parents were given. We are also aware that most community organisations are volunteering organisations and due to the wide range of services they provide, they may not have the capacity to keep up with the dynamic policy environment.
Reflecting on these issues and the need for children and young people in Scotland to grow up feeling Safe, Healthy and Happy, BEMIS is offering a unique opportunity for community practitioners that support EM families to attend a workshop. The workshop will consider the implications of the new Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, due to be implemented in August this year.
The workshop will provide an important opportunity for community practitioners and parents to explore the changes to the legislative framework around children in Scotland with a particular focus on understanding the “Getting It Right For Every Child” approach (GIRFEC). It will provide a platform for community practitioners and parents to share their experiences and enable community practitioners to provide a better informed service for families.
By the end of the workshop, participants should be able to:
When and where
The workshop will take place on 9 March 2016 in the Woodlands Room at the Albany Learning Centre, 44 Ashley Street, Woodlands, Glasgow, G3 6DS. The workshop will run from 10 am- 1 pm.
To book a place or find out more email email@example.com or phone 0141 548 8047
It will be delivered by GCVS Everyone’s Children Project in partnership with BEMIS Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government.
Do you support them with their children’s learning and school matters?
Would your organisation like to develop greater confidence in supporting parents with these issues?
Then Gathered Together’s Action Learning Set could be for you!
For the past two years Gathered Together has been supporting parents from ethnic minorities to become more involved in their children’s learning and school communities and have been working directly with schools, Parent Councils and parents from ethnic minorities. You can read about our work with EM parents and the good practice that’s going on in schools and Parent Councils here.
We know how important it is that these parents are supported to be able to help their children’s learning and be part of the school community. From our experience in the last two years, we are aware that EM parents often feel isolated when it comes to approaching schools for support for their children and prefer to seek help and advice from community organisations. We recognise that the Scottish education system is changing rapidly and organisations not working directly within education can struggle to know how best to support these families and where to signpost parents for help and information.
Gathered Together is offering a unique opportunity to community organisations to join an Action Learning Set to develop their skills and knowledge to better support families.The Action Learning Set will give community practitioners the opportunity to:
The Action Learning set will meet fortnightly on a Tuesday from 9.30-12.30pm (Centrum Building, 38 Queen Street, Glasgow, G1 3DX) as follows:
Following the Learning Set, we will provide further bespoke support for community organisations, as required.
Places are extremely limited and will be confirmed on a first come first serve basis. Therefore, if you would like to participate in this Action Learning, please respond to this invitation as soon as possible.
To book a place email firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for applications is 15 September 2015.
If you have any questions about this invitation please email email@example.com or phone 0141 548 8047.
21st May is the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development and what a way to celebrate!! The Gathered Together Team at BEMIS introduced their brand new publications in which they share their experiences of working to support ethnic and cultural minority parents to become more involved in their children’s education and the school community. The event took place at the Scottish Parliament and was hosted by Stewart Maxwell (MSP) Convenor of the Education and Culture Committee.
My name is Judy Wasige and I am one of the Participation and Development Workers with the GT Team. Although it is only my fourth day in post, I already feel like part of the team because reading the reports has given me an opportunity of recreating their journey. Being an Ethnic Minority parent, I can relate to the findings in the reports and I know what it feels like not knowing how to help your children with their schooling because you lack the relevant skills to do so. For example, although I had taught Mathematics at secondary school in Kenya before coming to Scotland, I was unable to help my children with their mathematics homework. They used totally different approaches to solving problems from I knew so I chose not to ‘interfere’ with their learning in case I ended up confusing them instead. I also found it difficult understanding Scottish qualifications, including reading SQA certificates and was unable to advise them on progression pathways. I knew how important it was for me to be involved but left it up to them to find their way, which left me feeling guilty.
It was inspiring to hear Liz, Richard, Marion and Anna talk about their work and to see some of the parents, children and teachers who have been involved with the project so far. A wide range of stakeholders, including from Scottish Parent’s Teacher’s Council (SPTC), Education Scotland, General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), Skills Development Scotland (SDS) , Local Authorities, English as an Additional Language (EAL) Departments and Community Groups, Further and Higher Education also attended the event. The children from St Albert’s and Golfhill Primary were very excited to see each other in the video ‘Parents as Partners’ which was also launched on at the event.
Considering the rapidly changing school population, these publications are useful in raising awareness of the issues faced by ethnic minority parents, sharing good practice and highlighting gaps in policy and practice.
For all the reports just click here
Here is a link to the video