Q Why do you think parental involvement is important?
Ahlam: It is important for parents to be involved in the school, to help the performance of the school – their voices will be heard and taken on board in order to make positive changes from which our children will benefit. The involvement of the parents in the school will increase not only parents’ confidence but also their children’s.
Q How did you first get involved in your parent council?
A: When I was new in the country as a French teacher I had a good experience in the past with different schools in my previous area. I felt that the school and children have learnt much from me and their perspective on BME communities has improved, they got to know that we can play a big role in the school performance if we are being given the opportunity.
Q Do you feel your parent council fully represents the parents of your school?
A: Our parent council tries to represent and include all parents with all backgrounds and have their voices heard. However we need to work with certain groups who face difficulties integrating, we need to work to answer the question “what gets in their way to stop them being involved”.
Q Tell us about your work with the Maryhill Integration Network and Parent Network Scotland?
A: Maryhill Integration Network works with the BME community to help them to integrate into Scottish life and achieve the necessary empowerment to break their barriers to contribution into society. My role in Community Support & Advice has given me the opportunity to use my experience as a person from BME who came through a lot of barriers when I first arrived in the country 13 years ago, who found it difficult to integrate during that time. I was in their shoes so know what kind of support needs to be in place to help them move on. Parent Network Scotland (PNS) works with all families who require support, including Scottish and BME parents. We provide courses to build confidence and give advice on getting on with children of all ages to increase healthy understanding in the family.
PNS builds on positive relationships and recognises it takes a unique set of skills to deliver this work within the BME community. My unique role as a Facilitator has also given me the opportunity to use my own experience as a BME parent and speak about the barriers faced by BME parents while adapting into a new culture as parents, and to help them be able to contribute into Scottish life.
I represent BME parents’ voices in my work to make sure PNS always meet their needs. Through our own school programme we encourage and develop these skills within the BME community and building their capacity to have the confidence to engage in schools.
Maryhill Integration Network AND Parent Network Scotland make an excellent partnership. They are crucial in empowering parents by helping them be involved in the community and in the school.
Q How do you think the Gathered Together sessions you attended can help ethnic, cultural minority parents and parent councils?
A: I like to be honest so I will answer this question based on my own knowledge and experience. The session I attended gave information and understanding on why it is beneficial for the parents to be involved. In terms of encouraging and empowering the parents to take part in the parent council, it is something that cannot happen overnight. A lot of work needs to be done to break their barriers to contribution and a lot of agencies need to work together to cater to these needs.
*Links to Maryhill Integration Network embedded in post*
*Links to Parent Network Scotland embedded in post*