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. We start with Richard and his thoughts on the development of the training toolkit.
What a long way this project has come! I started 2 years ago with solid foundations having been laid. In the initial months, we carried on, but then used the summer break to start to move the project forward and to re purpose some elements of this. The abiding thing that came out of this was the modular training course. I’ve always liked modular training design: that you have a toolbox, rather than a prescriptive approach suits me far better. In addition, the modularity of this course has enabled it to be adapted to a wide range of audiences and it has made it easy to refine, improve and to incorporate feedback.
As a central element of the course, we have a number of scenarios. These are based on real experiences, but have been adapted to illustrate particular areas. As this course has been repeated, the characters in the scenarios have moved from their original, real-life origins and have been given a different life entirely by delegates. Each of the sessions has bought a new set of perspectives to both the characters and the issues that they present. As the sessions came to an end, I realised that I am going to miss some of these characters and, in particular, miss their ongoing development. Even those characters who are troublesome and who were included because they caused problems have had their redeeming qualities explored by delegates and some of these characters, written to unpleasant and difficult, have been reflected back in a far kinder light.
The journey of these characters has, in many ways, mirrored the journey that the project has taken. As time has gone on, the project has grown, developed many new elements and aspects; as well as these new situations enabling us, as a staff team, to look at issues differently and to move things forward because of this.
2 years ago, I had started to think of some of the characters who might be needed in the scenarios after my first training session in Kirkcaldy, as well as started to think about how the project could develop and grow. At the end of this period, I reflect on both in the same way: it has been a fascinating journey, made possible by some brilliant parents and schools from which I have learnt a lot and enjoyed more. With this, however, there is a sadness at leaving something not yet finished: that the project still had work left to do and the characters were still growing and still had plenty more to teach us.
In August we offered to provide “Bespoke Support” for schools and Parent Councils wanting help to better engage with the ethnic minority families in their school. The closing date for applications was 14 September and we had a really hard time choosing the six schools and Parent Councils we would be able to work with. After a lot of discussion and cups of coffee we managed to choose six schools- all with distinct needs, diverse populations and a real desire to reach out to all parents. The people we’ll be working with are:
Corpus Christi Primary School and Parent Council (Glasgow)
Dalry Primary Parent Council (Edinburgh)
Hillpark Secondary Parent Council (Glasgow)
St Francis Xavier Primary School and Parent Council (Falkirk)
St Mary’s Primary Parent Council (Edinburgh)
St Mungo’s Primary Parent Council (Alloa)
We’ll be sharing our journey with each of the schools here and are really excited about learning about what’s happening in each school and how we can best support them- keep an eye on this blog to find out more
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.
We asked 164 parents from ethnic minorities about the Scottish Education system and their children’s school – 73% did not know what the Curriculum for Excellence was.
Gathered Together are putting together a series of workshops to help parents understand and be more involved in their children’s education and what happens in schools.
We will work with the experts in each field to help those parents who are new to Scotland or those who have grown up in a different education system to help explain different stages and aspects of education.
Our partners will include:
Each of the six workshops will be run in both Edinburgh and Glasgow from 10.30-12.30pm. (For details about individual sessions go to our events page)
Places are limited so please book your place as soon as possible by filling out the registration form at the link below:
Quaker Meeting House
|Primary School Information||30 September||1 October|
|Secondary School Information||7 October||8 October|
|Post 16 Education and Choices||21 October||22 October|
|Parental involvement and engagement||28 October||29 October|
|Mother tongue- at home and school||4 November||5 November|
|Children’s Rights in Scotland||11 November||12 November|
Gathered Together has been running for seventeen months now and we thought the end of the year would be a good time to look back at what we’ve done over the year. Here are a few figures-
35 workshops for ethnic minority parents, reaching 358 parents
22 training sessions for Parent Councils reaching 257 parent council members and head teachers
10 videos on our website with parents, head teachers and key stake holders sharing good practice (and more videos to follow in the New Year)
Our workshops with Ethnic Minority parents have been a wonderful opportunity to find out about the experiences of parents in relation to their children’s schools. It’s helped highlight good practice with some great stories of how schools engage with parents and help them feel a part of the school community as well as helping us to understand the barriers that parents can face. The biggest barrier for the majority of Ethnic Minority parents face is language and we’ve been able to do simple things like make parents aware of their right to get an interpreter for meetings with school as well as share ideas for how they can get involved despite the language barrier. We’ve also raised awareness about parents’ rights to get involved and have their voice heard within the school. So many of the parents at our sessions hadn’t heard of the Parent Council or had only the vaguest idea of what they do and we’ve been able to raise awareness of the work Parent Councils can do and the impact they can have on the ethos of the school.
We’ve been able to take the barriers and experiences we’ve heard from our EM sessions to pass on to local authorities and feed into our training for parent councils. The training is meant to give parent councils the chance to think about the experience of parents who experience barriers and challenge them to come with practical solutions to help overcome these barriers. This is often a rare opportunity for parent councils to come together, share ideas and talk about their experiences. The time and space to think about participation and what they can do to help parents become more involve is incredibly valuable and some brilliant ideas have come out of these discussions. The training is also an opportunity for us to share the good practice we’ve come across including community assemblies, newsletters as podcasts, meeting new parents when their children is transitioning and international days. The parents who came along to the training have feedback that it’s made them aware of the diversity within the school. One mother said that she just found out one of her daughter’s best friends was Polish and that the school has a sizeable Eastern European population she hadn’t been aware of.
One of the best parts of our work has been gathering the stories of the people who are supporting parental involvement. We have met some inspirational people including ethnic minority parents who are taking an active role in their children’s schools, teachers who passionately believe in working in partnership and parents sharing the challenges they’ve experienced in getting involved in their children’s education. Being able to record the interviews has been fantastic so that people can hear about these experiences in their own words. If you haven’t already go have a look- http://gatheredtogether.bemis.org.uk/?p=538 and let us know what your favourite videos are.