Last Updated: Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Collaborative family learning approach to working with ESOL parents through storytelling

What is this?

​​​This practice exemplar shows how a partnership approach helped parents, for whom English is a second or other language, to gain practical skills and knowledge to more effectively engage in their children’s learning through storytelling. Using a family learning approach Glasgow Clyde College staff delivered an SCQF credit rated 4 course over a 12 week period with Primary School colleagues.​

Who is this for?

The exemplar will be useful to practitioners who are already or will be considering their approach to working with ESOL parents to help them engage in their children’s learning. The case study could also be adapted to support parents and families whose first or other language is English, to help them engage more effectively with their children’s learning.​

​How to use this exemplar to improve practice?

The exemplar along with the reflective questions can be used to help practitioners consider their own approach to involving and engaging parents and families whose first language is not English. The video provides a key opportunity to hear directly from those who were involved in the ESOL courses and the impact these have had.

Reflective questions​​

  • How do you identify need within your community or educational establishment?
  • Are there specific barriers preventing this diverse parent community from engaging with the setting/school or their child's learning? How do you address these?
  • How well do you seek out and respond positively to potential partnerships which will lead to better outcomes for the children and young people you work with?
  • How effectively do you support parents and families to participate in, contribute to and understand their child's learning?
  • How do you ensure that the parents learning journey is effectively supported?
  • ​What evidence do you have that family learning is improving the life chances of the children and families involved?
  • Are outcomes for children and families improving as a result of their participation in family learning? How do you​ know?


PDF file: Student Evaluation Form (299 KB)

PDF file: Tutor Evaluation Form (26 KB)

PDF file: Group Learning and Support Plan (770 KB)

PDF file: Student Impact Statement (158 KB)​​​

Explore this exemplar





What was done?​

A course was developed that deals with standard areas of ESOL provision such as grammar, vocabulary, reading and writing alongside identified concerns such as how to read and engage children in a story and how to use interrogative questioning as a creative solution to this issue.

The attached video has been produced by staff, parents and children. It showcases the impact that this course and the collaborative family learning approach has had to attainment levels of children in school and to parents as adult learners.


Delivering excellence and equity in Scottish education is a key priority in the Scottish Government’s Delivery Plan. This collaborative family learning approach helps to address that commitment but also the concerns raised by parents about their capacity and confidence to read to their children in English and support them with language-based homework. Parents expressed that they had difficulty in a range of areas ​including: understanding the vocabulary, pronouncing words and phrases, using character voice and not being able to follow the flow of the story, especially when the story used rhyme. Requests were also received from schools to provide ESOL courses for parents within the family engagement agenda.

What was the impact?

At the start of the course the tutor will take the learners through a Group Learning and Support Plan which will enable a collective look at what they hope to gain from the course and what learning style will best suit them during the course.  A plan is developed and agreed upon. This Plan is revisited halfway through the course and any amendments made to the learning programme. It is looked at again at the end of the programme and learners are given the opportunity to provide impact statements on their learning. In addition an impact sheet is held by the tutor to record any impact statements made during the course. Finally both the learner and the tutor complete and evaluation sheet on the course. These documents are pulled together to enable an overview on the teaching and learning and impact made on each individual course and each individual learner.​

The school has seen the following improvement and impacts:

  • parents have gained a solid grounding in grammar and vocabulary while learning the skills of reading to their children in English
  • greater confidence amongst parents to take on the responsibilities of reading to their children, as part of school homework but also outwith this. Many have joined their local library
  • increased parental confidence to develop their own learning and actually go on to further learning
  • increased levels of attainment amongst children whose parents have participated in the course
  • increased parental engagement in their children’s learning and involvement in the wider life of the school


This exemplar focuses on the improvement of English Language skills of parents that then has a positive impact on their children's learning, we also recognise the value and importance of developing their first language. For more infomation on how this can be done, see Storytelling through photography.​