A report jointly produced by the Inspectorate's audit unit and Lothian's education department observes that reluctance by parents to comment on information sent out by schools will continue unless parents understand what schools are trying to achieve.
The report recommends concise and jargon-free information, possibly as part of existing newsletters sent home via pupils. "There is no point in issuing information which goes unread," the document states. Full copies of school plans devised for teachers are not appropriate for parents, it stresses.
Scottish Office ethos indicators are widely used by schools when seeking parental views on their strengths and weaknesses but the report suggests that "it is possible and desirable for schools to go further. A useful by-product is that the preparation of a newsletter, leaflet or booklet has the constructive function of prompting the school to focus on what is most relevant and meaningful to parents."
The report carries accounts from eight schools in Lothian, Tayside and Fife of how they inform and involve parents in development planning. These range from frank assessments of curriculum failure to plans for storing tables in the dining-room.
Preston Lodge High in Prestonpans acknowledges that "the attempt to introduce GSVQ level 1 was not successful". Drummond High in Edinburgh tells parents that a continuous maths scheme from primary into secondary has been devised.
Almondbank primary in Livingston plans to establish "circletime" as a means of creating a good ethos and consulting children. The school also lists three sets of achievements affecting children, parents and school buildings.
Most of the best curriculum-related practice highlighted in the report keeps parents in touch with what teachers are doing, particularly in matching their work to the national 5-14 guidelines.
Williamston primary in Livingston goes a step further and pledges: "Throughout next session we would like to explain to you how the content of the English language and mathematics documents is affecting your children's education and how you can support them at home".