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.
One of the brilliant things that’s come out of Gathered Together’s work has been the opportunity to build relations with groups. In Falkirk we ran training for community champions (http://gatheredtogether.bemis.org.uk/?p=330) which Megan Farr from Falkirk Council was also able to attend. This helps to build links between the council and one of the groups our community champion Sofia was running. From that meeting they are now working together to start going out to school to visit primary school classes to speak about Islam.
We have also been able to help some of the community groups we are working with to get the support to develop as organisations as well as apply for the Multi-Cultural Homecoming fund http://bemis.org.uk/project/multicultural-homecoming-2014/. It is great to be able to help groups like the International Women’s group and Rainbow Muslim Women’s group to do more and build relations.
In our videos we’ve also been able to showcase and celebrate good practice- there are so many schools and Parent Councils who do a wonderful job and have developed a real ethos of working with families. We’ve tried to make sure we promote good practice as widely as possible so that they get the recognition they deserve.
And finally through our steering group we’ve been able to open up opportunities to work with Skills Development Scotland to promote their website for parents http://www.myworldofwork.co.uk/section/parents-and-carers to parents from ethnic minorities, help communication between local authorities on how to engage parents and start conversations on how the diverse members of the group can work together.
We’ve got lots of partnership work planned for the new year, including with Education Scotland and Bilingualism Matters- these are exciting times!
In April 2014 we had an article in Children in Scotland, giving a little history of the project and some of the things we’ve learnt from working with Ethnic minority parents and the work we’ve been doing to support EM parents and parent councils.
The Gathered Together team were at the Scottish Learning Festival last week. It’s an amazing event bringing together a huge range of organisations involved in education and children’s learning – from Skills Development Scotland to Amnesty International. This year was the first time that parents had been officially invited to attend and the National Parent Forum Scotland (NPFS) and our partners Scottish Parent Teacher Council had a “Parent Connect” stall just for parents. It seemed to be constantly busy- and not just because of the tempting home baking available! There were sessions on how parents can support their children with literacy and numeracy and what Parent Councils do, visiting displays from organisations supporting families- including Gathered Together and vast amounts of information about parents’ rights, the Curriculum for Excellence and the role of Parent Councils. (more…)
We are really excited for this years Scottish Learning Festival in Glasgow’s SECC on Wednesday and Thursday.
Gathered Together will be delivering a seminar on Thursday 25th at 12pm, and we will be looking at the impact of parents being involved in their children’s education and the benefits of getting parents from different cultures to the school and the children. 100 people (!) have signed up for our seminar so unfortunately there are no spaces left but we’ll make sure we put information from the seminar up on our website.
We are looking to hear from teachers about their experience with parental involvement. We want to know what are the barriers you’ve faced, who are the parents that have inspired and supported you, and why you think parental involvement matters. Use #parentsaspartners to get your voice heard and you may be featured in Thursday’s seminar!