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. We’ve 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 that engaging with parents who are new to Scotland can be a challenge and also 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. We also know how much parents from other cultures can bring to schools- helping children learn about other cultures, religions and languages and to become responsible citizens
This term we are planning to support six schools or Parent Councils, providing bespoke support to meet the needs of the individual school/ Parent Council to engage more effectively with families from ethnic minorities. Our support is up to 10 contact hours and the bulk of the support would need to take place by December 2015
The support will include:
If you have any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0141 548 8047.
Complete this form Bespoke-support-application-form (3)
The deadline for applications is 14 September 2015 (applications to be sent to email@example.com)
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.
Early in 2014 Holyrood magazine ran an article on the Gathered Together project, including an interview with BEMIS’ chief executive Rami Ousta. To read the full article just click on this link Holyrood Magazine
We delivered one of our last sessions in Fife (for the moment- we’re hoping to get more dates for further training soon) at Rimbleton Primary in Glenrothes. At the start we always ask parents what they are already doing to get parents involved and were utterly amazed with how much the schools and parent councils were already doing. As well as the school concerts, coffee mornings and fundraising events there were schools running bike courses for parents and children, craft evenings before Christmas (when families could come in and make Christmas cards together) and pre-school Fair Trade breakfasts for parents and children.
One of my favourite ideas to come out of the session was a survey for parents to find out about what they know about the Parent Council and how they could get involved. This is incredibly helpful for the Parent Council to find out how aware parents are about their work, skills that parents might have and particular people who could use their skills to help the school. The problem with most surveys is that parents don’t answer them- it’s very easy to put off more paperwork from the school or another survey monkey email. But some schools have learnt to use children- the children create the survey in class then ask their parents the questions as homework. This means that about 98% of the parents actually respond.
Please try this at your school and let us know how it goes- good luck!