Ed­u­ca­tion in cri­sis? Time to send par­ents back to school!

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Gareth Rose

PAR­ENTS will be sent back school un­der a rad­i­cal scheme aimed at halt­ing the slump in Scot­land’s class­rooms.

They will be en­cour­aged to brush up on read­ing, writ­ing and maths – so they can help their chil­dren with home­work.

The plan is aimed at achiev­ing Ni­cola Stur­geon’s top pri­or­ity – ‘sig­nif­i­cantly’ clos­ing the at­tain­ment gap be­tween rich and poor pupils.

A re­port by Ed­u­ca­tion Scot­land has backed a na­tional roll-out of ‘fam­ily learn­ing’, with classes to be run by teach­ers and ed­u­ca­tion pro­fes­sion­als, with the prom­ise of ex­tra cash to pay over­time.

The scheme will be aimed at im­prov­ing par­ents’ nu­mer­acy and lit­er­acy, es­pe­cially if English is not their first lan­guage.

The gulf in at­tain­ment be­tween pupils from rich and poor back­grounds re­mains high, with pro­por­tion­ately fewer chil­dren from the most deprived parts of Scot­land reach­ing uni­ver­sity than in the rest of the UK.

Ed­u­ca­tion Scot­land said the scheme was the ‘first of its kind’ in Scot­land. A spokesman added: ‘Done well, fam­ily learn­ing helps close the at­tain­ment gap through break­ing the cy­cle of de­pri­va­tion and low at­tain­ment, lead­ing to pos­i­tive out­comes for both adults and chil­dren.

‘We ex­pect this re­view will give ed­u­ca­tion pro­fes­sion­als who work with fam­i­lies a deeper un­der­cru­cial stand­ing of dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to fam­ily learn­ing that are proven to work well.’

Scot­tish Par­ent Teacher Coun­cil ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Eileen Prior said: ‘Chil­dren spend a rel­a­tively small pro­por­tion of time in school. Sup­port­ing fam­i­lies to sup­port learn­ing at home is a real win-win in terms of out­comes for kids.’

Scot­tish Tory ed­u­ca­tion spokesman Liz Smith said: ‘Par­ents are a part of ad­dress­ing the at­tain­ment gap.

‘This is par­tic­u­larly true in the early years, which have to be the main fo­cus for im­prov­ing the life chances of all our chil­dren, in­clud­ing many who don’t speak English as their first lan­guage.’

Larry Flana­gan, gen­eral sec­re­tary of teach­ing union the Ed­u­ca­tional In­sti­tute of Scot­land, said: ‘All teach­ers are acutely aware ac­tive and sup­port­ive parental in­volve­ment is cru­cial in de­liv­er­ing the best op­por­tu­ni­ties for pupils and is one way of ad­dress­ing the at­tain­ment gap.

‘But any new ini­tia­tives must take ac­count of teach­ers’ ex­ces­sive work­loads and will need a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment of time and re­sources.’

A Scot­tish Govern­ment spokesman said: ‘Our Na­tional Im­prove­ment Plan in­cluded a com­mit­ment to de­vel­op­ing and im­ple­ment­ing a pro­gramme of fam­ily learn­ing by De­cem­ber 2018.

‘The pro­gramme will be de­vel­oped in part­ner­ship with par­ents’ or­gan­i­sa­tions to en­sure par­ents are fully in­volved in their chil­dren’s learn­ing.’

‘Break­ing the cy­cle of de­pri­va­tion’

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