Innovative parental engagement project to go live in new term at city schools

Sharon McInnes, Aberdeen City Council Early Learning and Childcare, Excellence and Equality Practitioner (Right) and Isadora Stival with 1 year old Daughter Amelia Stival at a Families Connect pilot event earlier this year

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THREE city schools are rolling out a programme in the coming term devised to involve the parents of 3-to-6 year old pupils in their child’s education.  

The Families Connect project run by Aberdeen City council in partnership with Save the Children builds upon the success of the pilot which ran run last term at Kingsford, Walker Road and Woodside schools.

An evidence-based programme developed by Save the Children to support parents to engage in their children’s learning, saw workshops build on parents’ existing skills and knowledge and increased their confidence to support their children’s learning in the home.

The project also encouraged positive relationships between parents and staff and provided opportunities for parents to share their parenting experiences with others. 

Each workshop had a range of fun play activities, techniques, and games with a topic they were – Play, Feelings, Praise and Listening, Book Talk & Storytelling, Counting, and Number Talk.

All staff in the three schools took part in training on parental engagement with a separate set of workshops supporting staff skills, knowledge, and experience in working with parents to better enable them to engage with their child’s learning both in school and at home.

Staff learned about the neuroscience behind building positive parent/setting relationships; the role of settings in supporting families living on low incomes; how to build relationships with parents and support the aspirations of children and parents.

The pilot has enabled each school to forward plan in rolling out the programme in the new term.

Aberdeen City Council’s Education Operational Delivery Convener, Councillor Martin Greig, said: “This is an important project that refreshes our string commitment to parental Involvement. Our parental engagement plan for the next two years aims to develop the relation between home and school environments.  We especially wish to build on the positive experiences of home learning that happened during the pandemic.”

Jane Halliday from Save the Children said: “The project recognises the key role parents play in their children’s learning and development and supports the strengthening of relationships between staff and parents and the further development of parental engagement activities.”

Parents have spoken highly of the pilot project with one parent commenting: “Family Connect has given me more confidence in dealing with my child – how to manage situations.”

Another parent said: “Our relationship is definitely better with the school because you’ve got more interaction with the teachers.” 

“You’re not just left to do it by yourself and to get on with it. They’re more seeing how you are, and how your child’s getting on with the programme.”  

Home learning during the Covid-19 lockdown resulted in council officers helping to support parents creatively in their children’s learning particularly with numeracy, literacy and maintaining children’s health and wellbeing.  

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