Last Updated: Thursday, June 27, 2019

Engaging families and communities in Bellshill Academy

What is this?

​This exemplar outlines the interventions that have been used in Bellshill Academy, North Lanarkshire, working with parents and community planning partnerships to raise attainment.

The exemplar describes how the school has worked with parents to help them engage with their children’s learning and have high, shared ambitions, aspirations and expectations. It can support the development of a shared commitment across services.

Who is this for?

​Teachers, Community Learning and Development (CLD) partners, senior managers and local authority personnel.

​Explore this exemplar

How to use this exemplar to improve practice

The approaches and strategies in this exemplar are designed to support practitioners to consider how they might work with parents and CLD partners to successfully engage young people, families and communities.

Practitioners should take account of their own context and consult with all relevant partners before deciding on which approaches and strategies are most appropriate for the young people and families with whom they work.

The questions can be used and adapted to reflect on current practice through professional dialogue with colleagues. You may also wish to create a bespoke set of questions for your context using How good is our school? (4th edition).

What was done?

The leadership of the headteacher, staff commitment and partnership working with parents and external agencies were central to Bellshill Academy's home-school partnership project, entitled Working Together to Raise Standards and Transform Lives.

The school appointed a Principal Teacher (PT) Support for Learning and Inclusion, and a PT Nurture. They had the support of a CLD Home School Partnership Officer who was trained in nurture and meditation.


Identifying attendance issues was very important in targeting young people and then selecting and developing the interventions which led to ensuring that young people were appropriately supported.

Attendance was monitored meticulously on a daily basis by a Depute Head Teacher who liaised with Pupil Support, the Learning Inclusion Base and the Home School Partnership Officer if required.

There was a varied timetable for those who did not or could not engage in regular class activities. Community learning and devlopment (CLD) and local YMCA colleagues provided structured support for this approach.

Parental partnerships

Parental partnerships were centered on improving family learning. A sub-group of the Parent Council was engaged in evaluating existing practice and planning and developing a more focused approach to parental engagement. The initial drive for this approach came from discussions with the large and very active Parent Council and focused on strategies to address the poverty related attainment gap.

Parents consulted with other parents through questionnaires, presentations at parents’ meetings, open evenings and study skills evenings. Analysis of responses gathered led to the development and introduction of a range of interventions which included:

  • study skills workshops for parents of pupils in the Broad General Education (BGE) and Senior Phase;
  • the development of a study skills advice booklet for parents;
  • literacy programme for targeted pupils and their parents;
  • creative writing class for parents;
  • enhanced transition support programme for pupils and parents of P6 and P7.


Bellshill Academy has 44% of young people in Scottish index of multiple deprivation (SIMD) 1 and 2, and 72% in SIMD 1-3. The school has developed a system to track and monitor individual pupil progress across all stages from BGE through to the Senior Phase. This approach highlighted gaps in attainment based on SIMD, free school meals, and other indicators of deprivation. Analysis of data facilitated the implementation of intervention strategies targeted at individual pupils and groups of pupils.

What was the impact?

Young people’s attainment, achievement and attendance increased as a result of effective, tailored interventions for individuals and groups based on the tracking approach illustrated. A comprehensive home-school partnership programme, illustrated above, contributed to the school drive to develop an ethos of success, increased attainment and engagement with parents through family learning. The programme includes strategies for raising attainment, peer support, pupil support, key transitions, wider achievement and parental involvement.

How was this example identified?

This example was identified by looking outwards to other authorities to identify best practice in engaging families and communities in the Scottish Attainment Challenge.

Improvement questions

  • How effectively do we support parents and carers to participate in, contribute to and understand their child’s learning?
  • How effectively do we communicate about progress, attainment and achievement?
  • How well do we share skills, information, knowledge and experience across partners and partnerships?
  • How well do we learn from successful partnerships?
  • Do we engage in shared professional learning opportunities with partners?
  • What opportunities do our learners and staff have to work with others to contribute effectively to their communities as active citizens?


PPT file: Engaging families and communities in Bellshill Academy