Guest Post: Parent Engagement In Scotland

I recently wrote a post titled Proposal to Let Principals Levy Fines On “Bad Parents” In Britain – That Sure Will Help Develop Parent Engagement about a ridiculous idea by Ofsted (which I believe is roughly equivalent to the U.S. Department of Education).

Eileen Prior, who is head of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, a small, parent-led charity dedicated to supporting positive parental involvement in their child’s education, has written this guest post in response. Her organization has more than 60 years’ experience in working with parents all over Scotland, and encourage a partnership approach at local and national level.

Scotland’s schools have an impressive international reputation, and you can learn more about them at The Best Resources For Learning About Scotland’s Schools:

The recent pronouncement by the boss of Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) that parents who fail to support their children’s education should be fined, made me glad to be in Scotland.

Thankfully Ofsted has no jurisdiction in this part of the world: education has long been organised differently in Scotland and was devolved to the Scottish Government in 1999. 

I honestly find it baffling that any education system which claims to support parental involvement in education – indeed refers to partnership with parents – can simultaneously see the punishment of parents who fall short of expectations as acceptable in any way. What place does punishment have in a partnership? 

I think in Scotland we have a different cultural approach when it comes to engaging parents. Since 2007 we have had parental involvement legislation, which is designed to give parents both rights – and some responsibilities – when it comes to engaging with their child’s school. It does not touch on the ‘at home good parenting’ issues highlighted by Desfores but rather makes the leap of faith outlined by Mongon and Chapman in 2012, ie that a closer connection with families will lead to better outcomes for young people. 

We also have Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) – Scotland’s attempt to equip our young people with the skills and aptitudes they will need into the future.  With refreshed approaches to teaching and learning, CfE also spells out the important role of parents as partners in their child’s learning.

Ultimately, the policy imperative in Scotland around parental involvement is about impacting on outcomes – educational, economic and social – as we continue to struggle with an attainment gap which too closely reflects the pattern of haves and have not’s in our society.

The attainment gap at school, in turn, influences long term prospects in education and work. Poverty is a strong indicator of success at school in Scotland (though by no means the only only) – something which does not sit comfortably with any of the political parties.

With their focus on parents as partners in our children’s education, the combination of CfE and the Parental Involvement Act is heady stuff – their narrative of working with parents could hardly be more different from Ofsted’s approach.


Desforges, C. and Abouchaar, A. (2003), The impact of parental involvement, parental support and family education on pupil achievement and adjustment: a literature review, Research Report No 433  London: DfES. 

Mongon, D., and Chapman, C., (2012) High-Leverage Leadership: improving outcomes in educational settings, London, Routledge

I’m adding this post to The Best Resources On Parent Engagement In Countries Other Than The U.S.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *