Early on in the Scottish Attainment Challenge programme Wallace High School in Stirling employed two Family Link Workers.
That number has risen now to three and Head Teacher Scott Pennock describes how this was:
“A really important investment, because they reach out into the community and they are building a lot of trust and relationships with the families of the people who do not attend at all. They were a bridging provision where there was zero or almost no attendance.”
More recently the Family Link Workers have been running other programmes, including one-stop-shop parental advice sessions in communities. Meeting parents in their community is seen as an important step towards helping a wider group of parents to be more part of a school life.
While Scott thinks that it’s going to take time and perseverance to fully see the benefits of this work, already the school is starting to see positive impact.
“We are getting information on the barriers to school, and barriers to trying to connect with school, and getting trust with the school. What parents talked about, which is quite powerful, was their experience of school which was often being ‘in trouble’. So the first response to any phone call is that it’s going to be negative.”
The school is now working to turn around those parental perceptions and build a dialogue with parents.