How pupils can help
Pupils have a really important role in encouraging their parents to get involved with the school. Once they are made aware of how important it is that their parents get involved and support the school they often have a host of good ideas about how this could be done. They often know what would work best for their parents and their families.
Schools are encouraged to develop pupil discussion groups as part of their work on Citizenship and Enterprise Education. There may be committees or groups considering Equality issues in the school; a Hungry for Success Committee; or an Eco Group. All of these groups could be asked to consider how parents and the wider community could be involved and support their learning in these areas.
Ways for authorities, schools and parents to involve pupils include:
- School/Pupil councils
- An authority wide pupil forum
- An authority wide consultation forum for disabled children and young people in line with the Disability Equality Duty
- A representative on the Parent Council (properly prepared and supported)
- Circle time/golden time - where teachers and children in primary schools have a chance to talk together and share news and information informally
- Youth involvement in Locality Planning and Community Planning networks
- The use of suggestion or ideas boxes or perhaps through the local Dialogue Youth team
- Graffiti/notice boards which act as a permanent comment board
- Scope for joint work or projects between staff/parent members and youth/pupil representatives
- Including them in formal and informal consultation processes when new ideas are being developed
- Being part of the social events
- Helping in practical ways with activities at the school.
example 5 - pupils interviewing parents and teachers
In East Lothian, a Task Group of parents was established by a consultant to explore the development of a parental involvement strategy. The group decided to involve pupils in the process and the consultant met with representatives from School/Pupil Councils in several primary and secondary schools.
The pupils then interviewed their teachers and their parent or carer at home to get their views on parental involvement. Some children interviewed step-mums or dads which was a very good experience for them both and in some cases the first time they had ever been asked to consider their involvement. All views gathered by the pupils will help develop the strategy.
Comments from children and young people as part of developing this toolkit
"It [the toolkit] should tell parents and teachers to remember to ask us. We can help them with lots of things."
"It's not true that kids and their mums and dads won't want to work together. Just because we have arguments about tidying up at home and staying out late, it doesn't mean we aren't all interested in what happens at school. We want it to be a good school too."
"The toolkit should tell people to ask grans to help. My gran teaches me lots of good things. Some of my friends don't have grans they see all the time. People could come and be grans for every child who needs one."
developing a capacity or skills poster
This activity helps to:
- Identify the skills, experience and
qualities that people bring to a group
- Develop people's confidence in using
- Work together as a team
Who will be involved
- Parent Council
- Teachers and the parents
- Parents and teachers from several
schools who want to work together
on an issue which affects them all
Step 1:Setting up the exercise
Nominate someone as a group leader to take people through the exercise. The group leader displays the poster and outlines the task. A sample poster is provided opposite. There is an image of a person in the middle, and in each of the corners there is a heading. Give everyone a copy of the poster and explain what each heading means. Here are some tips:
What's my identity?
This is a 'who am I?' type question and can include anything people feel is important about them. What is their job; do they have any children; are they the person who everyone talks to, the office comedian, the problem solver?
What are my hobbies, interests and passions?
This should list all the person's hobbies and interests, as much as possible.
What are my skills, talents and resources?
List all those things the person can do, is good at, and enjoys. Also list all the people the person knows who might come in handy, along with any equipment or resources they have access to, i.e. they drive a car, have access to professional fundraisers.
What are my gifts?
This can be difficult for people to do themselves. Think about what friends or work colleagues say about you - why do they like you? People might say you are a great listener, someone to lean on or that you make them laugh.
Step 2:Making the poster - allow 30 minutes for each person to fill in their poster
- Organise people into pairs. It is helpful if people work with someone they feel comfortable with
- Fill in the details on the poster prompted by questions from their partner if they get stuck. Ask open questions e.g. "How would you describe yourself?" Remember to add your name to the poster
- Answers can be written or drawn. For example, a flowerpot or a spade could be used to depict a keen gardener or a peaked mountain for a walker.
Step 3:Sharing and displaying the posters
After everyone has finished their work, hang the posters on the wall and let people walk round and see what others have put up.
In an informal way, people get the chance to see what the skills, abilities and contribution of other parents might be.