Parentzone Scotland
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Ways of getting involved

​As a parent, you can make an enormous difference to your child's chances of success in school, at home and in their later life. Working in partnership with your child's school can help them to succeed.
The school Parent Council formally allows parental involvement at your child's school. There are also many informal ways of helping out.

You may be able to help out on a regular basis during the day or you may only occasionally have time after school. The important thing is to be aware that you have skills and abilities that you can use to benefit the school and its pupils.

When can I help?

Schools may look for help during the day with:

  • art, drama and other art-related activities
  • the school library
  • working with computers
  • breakfast clubs
  • after-school clubs
  • school trips
  • general help in the classroom.

Schools may have committees and advisory groups that meet during the day or just after school to discuss a specific topic. The purpose of these groups will change from school to school but common issues may include:

  • visions, values and aims of the school and community
  • enterprise and business links
  • healthy eating initiatives
  • school safety policies, for example safe routes to school
  • eco-schools.

Some schools arrange short-term parent advisory or focus groups when they want the views of parents on new initiatives or school policies. This means you can contribute to the school by sharing your views without having to make a long-term commitment.

Sometimes, schools arrange committee and advisory group meetings in the early evening so that parents who work can take part.

Schools also welcome adult helpers for:

  • school discos
  • plays and concerts
  • school fairs
  • Saturday sports clubs, for example football or netball.

What can I do?

There are many different skills that you can share. Here are some suggestions for how parents can contribute to their child's school.

Sharing skills

  • Gardening – in the school grounds or helping children grow bulbs and other plants in the classroom. Some parents' groups have developed vegetable gardens to help promote healthy eating.
  • Painting – helping with school play areas or marking out the ground for games; preparing scenery for school plays. 
  • Artistic talents – making a frieze on a school wall or helping with sculpture. 
  • Story-telling – either to a whole group or on a one-to-one basis. At some schools, grandparents have become involved, helping with 'paired-reading', which helps young people improve their reading skills.
  • Costume-making – for drama in the classroom and also for school plays.
  • Sports – helping with the school sports teams
  • Organisational skills – parents can help in the library. In one nursery, parents help prepare and keep 'science boxes' up to date; parents can take these to use at home and learn along with their children 
  • Language – parents who speak minority languages can help by translating and interpreting for parents who need support.

Sharing experiences of life and work

Sharing knowledge and experiences from your own life can give children a first-hand account of topics they are learning:

  • My World of Work (a week of activities run by schools to promote careers) is a good way for you and other family members, and members of the community, to share knowledge and experience from your own lives. It gives children a first-hand account of topics they are learning about.
  • Grandparents and older members of the community can talk about their experiences of things young people learn as history. For example, living through WWII or talking about the games you used to play. Children are encouraged to undertake research and may want to interview you for a project.
  • Parents who come from, or who have lived in, other countries can talk about their experiences. In one school, parents ran workshops on South American culture, Arabic writing, French cookery and Native American folktales.
  • You can talk about your work or even arrange a visit. Learning about the world of work and what people do in their jobs is an important part of Enterprise in Education.

Just being there

For school trips and special events, schools welcome the presence of extra adults to help supervise and make sure the children are safe. You may require a Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) certificate. Your Parent Council Chair or head teacher will be able to give you more details.

Some schools have welcoming committees where parents contact the parents of children who have just started at the school, especially if this happens in the middle of the school year. They can reassure the new parents and answer questions they might not want to ask at the school.

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