Last Updated: Monday, January 23, 2023

Family learning at Braes High School

What is this?

This practice exemplar highlights how Braes High School developed a creative universal and targeted intervention programme to support parental involvement, parental engagement, family learning and learning at home.

Who is this for?

This exemplar will be useful for practitioners working with parents, families and pupils.

Braes High School family learning journey began in 2016 with a trial of a targeted Family learning intervention programme called ‘Flourish’. The initial cohort included ten first year pupils and their families. This initial intervention focused on health and wellbeing through practical cookery and physical activity. Early indications showed: an impact on literacy and numeracy outcomes; pupils were more confident; parent-school partnerships were stronger and positive relationships had been established.

How to use this exemplar

This exemplar along with the reflective questions can be used to help practitioners to consider their own approach to parental involvement, parental engagement, family learning and learning at home. You are invited to read the exemplar then consider either individually or as a team, the reflective questions below.

Reflective questions

  • What change do you want to see?
  • What opportunities do you provide for parents and families to engage in their child’s learning and the wider life of the school?
  • What approach do you take to promote genuine partnerships with parents and families?
  • Are there specific barriers preventing parents and families from engaging with the school?
  • What evidence do we have that family learning is improving the life chances of the families involved?
  • Are outcomes for children improving because of their participation in family learning?
  • To what extent can we demonstrate that families are participating, feeling included and are achieving and progressing?
  • How do you support parents that have their own challenges with literacy and numeracy?
  • How and when will you measure the impact of interventions?

Explore this exemplar

What was done?

Building on their initial intervention, the school recognised the positive impact that family learning had on parental involvement, parental engagement and learning at home. To develop this further, they identified a Principal Teacher for Family Learning. This post involves whole school responsibility to support:

  • Faculties to implement universal family learning supports.
  • Delivery of targeted interventions.
  • Staff to implement Family learning evenings for our Broad General Education and senior phase pupils.
  • Liaison with our partners, such as Barnardo's, who support our young people and families.

As a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, faculties built upon the success of the positive parent-school relationships and increased parental engagement and used it as an opportunity to upscale online learning opportunities. They created additional skill builders and exam help and uploaded these supports onto YouTube for families to use as learning at home resources.

Family Learning Working Group and Family Learning programmes

The school established a Family Learning working group which has representatives from each faculty. The focus of the group is to work collegiately and support each other to deliver quality learning at home resources for families which support the work being taught.

The Principal Teacher of Family Learning also delivers targeted sessions, such as the Slow Cooker Project. These programmes are adapted each year to suit each cohort of pupils and their families. Family learning evenings were also delivered within the different faculties. This allowed families to work together at the school on skill builder sessions and exam preparation help.

In addition, faculties have created short skill builder YouTube videos to support learners at home with skills for Broad General Education and exam help for Senior Phase.

The school have also established a community polytunnel project involving pupils, parent/carers to produce fruit and vegetable boxes using produce grown at Braes High School. Recipe cards were also included in the boxes to give to targeted families.

Why was this done?

Data was collected from several sources, including Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SMID), Free School Meals, Young Carers and Pupil Equity Fund (PEF) information. It was critical to liaise with the associated primary schools to ensure early intervention. This also helps to build positive relationships with pupils and their families during the transition stages from primary to secondary.

Targeted and universal interventions were developed to encourage critical and creative thinking, as well as problem solving skills, which are transferable to everyday situations. These can include personal and family life as well as education and work.

What was the impact?

Through continuous evaluative processes Braes High School were able to evidence:

  • Increased engagement in learning between pupils and their parents through creating a family meal once a week.
  • Improved literacy skills through reading and understanding ingredients for recipes
  • Improved numeracy skills through developing a better understanding of these and being able to apply this to measure ingredients for recipes.

Feedback received

“My parents can now understand how to properly help me on math homework at home, by following the steps described on the videos.” (Pupil)

“Pupil A has changed, he is now spending more time with his family and going out more and he is well pleased that all the family have congratulated him and appreciated the feedback he has received from everyone. We all sit as a family eating the dishes we made together which has made Pupil A feel special, I am very proud of him and am delighted with the way it has helped him and his family through the very tough year they have had. They have grown so close. I would urge anyone to join this project as it is well worth it.” (Staff)