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Just the type of questions minister wants to hear

Peter Peacock took to the cyberwaves on Tuesday to answer online questions on parent involvement after his visit to Forthview primary.

"That school," the Education Minister said, "involved parents before their children arrive at school for the first time. They have a day away - teachers, pupils and parents - getting to know each other and building the basis for good and lasting relationships.

"There is a very high level of participation. The school then involve parents in early years classes, have homework clubs, have a 'friends' of their school association, produce information for parents and have a home liaison teacher who is out and about meeting parents in their homes and encouraging involvement.

"The school is an inspiring example of what can be achieved when, locally, parents, pupils and teachers work together. If it can be achieved there, it can be achieved anywhere. We will encourage and promote this and continue to provide the resources which allow this to happen and will enable others to follow their example."

A main plank of the Scottish Executive's strategy is to pass on best practice, even if secondaries find it more complex to involve parents, Mr Peacock stressed.

One parent, Henriette Laidlaw, protested that her secondary had done little to draw her in. "Having just returned from abroad with three children, one in secondary and two in primary, I have observed how little I am informed and expected to participate at secondary level. The only activity we have been invited to at the school has been a slide show from a school trip and to see a drama production my daughter was in.

"There have been no other activities at the school involving parents. I feel very remote to my daughter's schooling and I would not know any of her teachers if I met them on the street. I have only met her guidance teacher (who does not teach her) and the principal.

"She has very little homework (next to nothing - her siblings in primary school have more regular homework) and though her marks at the end of the year were extremely good, I feel as if I am to a large degree left in the dark as to her school work and her progress."

Mr Peacock replied: "These are exactly the type of questions I want schools to address with teachers to meet parents' expectations and using the new flexibilities in school life to look again at their current practices and see how they can improve. It is undoubtedly more complex to manage in secondaries, but by no means impossible."

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