Scottish Government
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School handbooks

Parents have offered Scotland's schools a number of suggestions on how handbooks could be improved as part of the first national consultation into such materials.

Handbooks are still seen as a valuable and trusted source of information, and parents are largely happy with what's available.

However, with Curriculum for Excellence now rolled out across all Scottish schools, the consultation findings are an opportunity for individual schools to demonstrate how pupils will benefit from their learning experience.

Findings include:

  • School information is seen as being about much more than just statistics
  • Different parents require a different 'cocktail' of information; signposting to other sources of information could meet this need
  • Ethos is the most frequently cited factor when choosing a school, but performance information could be presented more helpfully
  • Information on school policies, school contact details and the curriculum came out as the top priorities while children were at school
  • Parents who were choosing a school wanted local information to be more accessible and in one place
  • Online is the favoured format for school information, but face-to-face communication is highly valued and print needs to be an option

Minister for Young People Angela Constance said:

"Clearly, the value of a handbook to parents both in choosing a school and for information as their children progress with their learning cannot be understated. I am very pleased to see that, in the large part, schools are addressing this and parents are satisfied with how schools engage with them.

"What the consultation does bring out is a number of pointers where schools could make further improvements to how they present information to parents in an increasingly technologically-focused world. Hopefully today's publication will offer our schools some food for thought on how to meet the needs of parents, particularly as Curriculum for Excellence seeks to improve attainment across the board.

"We are currently looking to maximise our engagement with the education sector, with a particular emphasis on parents. This work is very much a part of that process."

Iain Ellis, Chair of National Parent Forum of Scotland said:

"The NPFS was happy to work in partnership with Scottish Government on this consultation as we know how important it is that parents get the right type of information from their schools.

"The current legislation seemed so out of touch with where Scottish parents and there schools are today. It will be great to see the consultation findings taken on board, particularly as we try and get parents more positively involved in supporting Curriculum for Excellence."

Jane Bruce, Headteacher of Papdale Primary, Orkney said:

"Capturing the ethos of the school in a document like a School Handbook is really difficult. We need to take a whole school approach to welcoming and encouraging engagement with parents.

"The pack that we prepare for parents when they first start the school is only one small part of that. At Papdale, we try and put together all the information in a pack for parents, but we use the website and other channels to supplement that throughout the year."

Jennifer Martin, parent of a son with additional support needs and focus group attendee said:

"When my son started school I was really nervous. He has additional support needs and it was really important for me to get practical information from the school. But it's important that this doesn't just stop when children start a new school.

"The information needs to be on-going and readily available. It will be good to see the changes making a difference to parents and schools. We are in this together and good communication is key."

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