Last Updated: Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Increasing parental engagement through opportunities for families to learn together - Beattock Primary School and Nursery – Dumfries and Galloway

What is this?

​This practice exemplar describes how one primary school sourced funding and used targeted interventions such as family learning to provide opportunities for families across the school to learn together and increase parental engagement and involvement.

Who is this for?

​The exemplar will be useful for practitioners in early years settings and primary schools who are seeking ways to engage parents in their children’s education.​

​How to use this exemplar to improve practice?​

This exemplar along with the reflective questions and attached documents can be used to help practitioners consider their own approach to engaging parents in their child's learning.​


Reflective questions:​

  • What does meaningful engagement with families look like in your setting/school?
  • What evidence do you have that the opportunities provided for families to learn together is improving outcomes?
  • How can the setting/school demonstrate that families are feeling included and that they are participating, achieving and progressing?
  • What self-evaluation methods do you use to gather evidence on what parents feel they need or would like from the setting/school to meet their needs?
  • Are there opportunities to secure additional funding to target and engage families in their child's learning?​



Appendices (All files included in zipped folder)

Appendix A: Data
Appendix B: Little Acorns Summary
Appendix C: Little Acorns Leaflet
Appendix D: Little Acorns Poster and Invite
Appendix E: You Said, We Did Busy Bags and Maths Bags
Appendix F: Busy Bags Labels and Contents
Appendix G: Maths Bags Example 1
Appendix H: Maths Bags Example 4
Appendix I: Maths Bags Example 10
Appendix J: Archie’s Adventures
Appendix K: Archie’s’ Adventures’ Photos
Appendix L: Big Cook, Little Cook Photos
Appendix M: Big Cook, Little Cook Recipe
Appendix N: Early Years Get Together
Appendix O: The Lounge Summary

​​Zipped file: Appendices A - P ​(5.8 MB)

Explore this exemplar

What was done?​

Beattock Primary and Nursery have secured additional funding targeted at engaging families, particularly in the early years. Interventions such as family learning were chosen in line with an analysis of the needs of the local community.

​Opportunities were created for families to learn together. These were carefully planned to be enjoyable and accessible to parents and to empower them to contribute to learning for the whole family. A variety of different approaches were employed, some of which are described in the attached documents​.



Through self-evaluation and reflection, stakeholder surveys, focus groups, informal and interactive self-evaluation wall displays and chats, it was identified that parents did not feel valued as partners in their children’s learning (see Appendix A: data).

The crucial role of parents in supporting their child’s education, development and emotional wellbeing is well recognised. Making positive changes was necessary to reduce levels of isolation, stress and anxiety for adults and children.


What was the impact?​

The school and nursery have seen the following improvements and impacts:

  • ​​increased parental engagement through a variety of opportunities for families to learn together
  • reduced levels of isolation, stress and anxiety for adults and children
  • effective targeted Interventions as a result of a community needs analysis
  • ​successful baby and toddler group - Little Acorns which reaches families from both surrounding villages, outlying areas and further afield. This has provided support for families through: modelling parenting and play; interacting with parents and their children; and recognising and supporting good parenting. Feedback from parents has been very positive and has led to continuation of targeted programmes
  • improved relationships with parents through home visits, care plan meetings and ‘Tea and Toast’ sessions
  • building capacity of parents through Stay ‘n’ Play sessions, Busy Bags, Maths Bags, policy contributions, Big Cook Little Cook sessions and Archie’s Adventures Bag
  • 100% of parents agreed that: the school organises activities for parents and children to learn together; they felt comfortable approaching the school with suggestions, questions or problems
  • parents have been empowered to develop and lead various projects including:​ Maths and Busy Bags; Book Club; Craft Club; Breakfast Club and Toy Library
  • opportunities for families to learn together are enjoyable, accessible and contribute to learning for the whole family
  • effective use of the school’s nurture hub (The Lounge) approach. This has included targeted interventions for literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing and extended links with parents and families to support learning. Activities provided have been requested/suggested through consultations with parents. Parents have been invited in to share learning programmes in literacy, numeracy and Internet Safety.​​