The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 amended the definition of “parent” in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 to “parents includes guardian and any person who is liable to maintain or has parental responsibilities in relation to, or has care of, a child or young person.”
Effective communication between school and parents is vital. This can be difficult when parents separate or divorce. If parents are separated or a divorce was granted after November 1996 both parents will retain parental responsibilities, unless the court has specifically removed those responsibilities. In relation to placing requests, appeals against certain educational decisions and access to pupils’ records both parents will normally have equal rights. Even if a divorce was granted prior to November 1996 the parent without custody may not have lost all rights to information and to be involved in decision-making. The above definition may also give others rights.
Schools will therefore request the names and addresses of both parents at the time of enrolment and at the annual update of data. The parent(s) with whom the pupil resides will automatically receive all communications from the school. If a parent lives away from the family home they will, when the school is first informed of their address, receive a Recorded Delivery letter enquiring whether or not they wish to receive information about their child’s education. If no reply is received it will be assumed they do not wish to be kept informed and there will be no further communication unless a request for information is subsequently received. If they wish to be kept informed they will receive copies of all communications regarding the pupil including copies of reports and notification of Parents’ Meetings. The parent with whom the pupil resides will be informed that this is happening.
The school is dependent on the parent with whom the pupil resides supplying the appropriate information i.e. the address of the parent not living in the family home, details of court proceedings prohibiting that parent’s involvement in the child’s education or any other relevant documentation.
Parents/Guardians should note that children could only be collected from school by the parent. If someone else is to collect the pupil the school should be informed in advance.
Improving Communication with Parents
Information from The Scottish Parent Teacher Council:
The Scottish Parent Teacher Council is the national organisation for Parent Teacher Associations and Parent Associations in Scotland and runs an independent helpline service for all parents. You can contact the Scottish Parent Teacher Council by phone/fax on 0131 226 4378, by email email@example.com or write to SPTC, 53 George St, Edinburgh, EH2 2HT.
Contact with Parents
In emergencies parents will be contacted as soon as possible by telephone.
Parents’ Evenings are held to discuss progress by year groups. Parents will be notified by hand-delivered letter and issued with a brief guide.
In all cases of serious indiscipline, non-attendance or lack of individual progress, parents will be invited to visit the school to discuss the problem at an early stage. The pupil’s Guidance Teacher or the appropriate Depute Head Teacher usually makes the initial contact with parents. It is hoped that parents will see these contacts as a means of helping pupils improve and make progress in their studies and their social life in the school.
Without parental cooperation, the Guidance Staff can achieve little which is positive, and we hope to forge a strong bond between staff and parents. In emergencies the Senior Management Team can see parents without appointments as circumstances permit, but there are obvious advantages if parents would telephone the school office (01620 823387) to arrange a mutually convenient time for full discussion.
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