All communication activity relating to parents, carers and families should be based on some core best practice principles. The following principles, which were developed in partnership with parent organisations, capture good practice, as demonstrated by head-teachers and teachers across Scotland on a day-to-day basis.
1. Simplicity and Clarity
- Every effort to communicate with parents and carers - every leaflet, conversation and news release - should be simple, relevant, straightforward and jargon-free.
- Parents should receive comprehensive, honest, factual answers to their questions.
- Be prepared to clarify misunderstandings.
- For parents, this is about improving their child's education. It is not about implementing a performance framework. The audience should drive what is said and how it is said. Focus on "what am I interested in for my child?" and "what does this mean for my child?" not "what does this mean for Scottish education?
- Focus on the themes and issues which are relevant to parents.
- Concentrate on making the themes and principles that lie at the heart of the framework come alive for parents and families
- Be conscious of the different needs and preferences of parents and ask them how and when they would like to communicate.
- Aim to develop all documents, guides, video and audio content in collaboration with parents and/or parent organisations.
- Communication should not be a one way street; it should focus on creating the opportunity for dialogue and discussion.
5. Flexibility and adaptation
- Be conscious of the multi-faceted nature of the parent community. In particular, be aware that some parents face additional barriers to engaging and communicating. Some of the most prominent are likely to be related to language, ethnic background, disability. A further additional barrier may be a parent or carer's perception of schools and education, informed by their own experience when they were young. Frame the way that you communicate with this in mind.
- Consider equalities issues in detail and seek to co-develop your approach with parents and families.
- Communication should be timed to fit in with the lives of parents and to fit in with the school calendar.