Parents log on to aid their children's learning
When mums and dads went back to school at an Aberdeenshire primary, it proved less of a shock to their system than expected.
Parents of pupils at Meldrum Primary are the first in Scotland to have been introduced to Glow - the world's first national intranet for education linking pupils, teachers and schools throughout the country. Access is giving parents a window into the classroom.
Aberdeenshire children had already been trained to use the system, so it made sense that they ran awareness sessions for parents in their role as Glow Bugs, supported by the authority's Glow Team.
And since most kids already provide the family's IT support services and technical backup for home entertainment from infancy, it was a familiar scenario for mums and dads.
"You only have to ask anybody if they can work their own DVD or whether they ask their 10-year-old to do it for them, which is the way it is in our house," admitted one of the parents, Lorna Reid, who works in the oil industry.
Her daughter Madeline (P7) was one of the tutors and introduced her mum to it. "A lot of people picked it up quickly so it was quite easy, there weren't very many people who needed lots of help," says the 10-year-old, an instinctive diplomat.
Mrs Reid says: "There was a range of skills and that's why having the children there was a big help. One of the first things we had to do was change our passwords and some parents had that done within a few seconds and some had to be taken through it step by step, because it was unfamiliar to them."
Madeline admits the first training session was "a bit weird" but that she soon adjusted. And she thinks the concept of parents learning from their kids in school has further potential. "I think it's a good idea because you are never really too old to learn, so it's quite cool."
Through Glow, parents all over Scotland will eventually be able to monitor their child's performance and keep up to speed with the new Curriculum for Excellence. They can communicate securely online with other parents and access public areas with information for parents and details of homework. Only parents and carers can access information about their child's performance.
Meldrum Primary's headteacher, Alastair Beaton, says: "I think it means parents will have a far better understanding of the big changes in the Scottish curriculum and understand what they can do to support their children's learning and to support the school."
The days of children palming off puzzled parents with "I've got no homework" are numbered. "To have your own log-on and password and to be able to pop in and see what's happening in the classroom is fantastic, particularly for parents who are perhaps not at home all the time," says Mrs Reid.
"My husband works offshore four weeks at a time, so he can nip in, have a look and see what artwork there is or what the class is up to. And, although we obviously speak on the phone and have the internet at home, this is another dimension to communication between home and school.
"It's very safe because it's not just anybody who can access the site. Passwords and user names have been supplied by the Glow Team and the access you have is carefully controlled as well. I have access as a parent, therefore I am not able to look at anything the teachers are doing," she says.
"For schools that don't have a website, this is maybe a chance to replace the piece of paper that goes home and gets lost at the bottom of the schoolbag. This is a chance to maintain contact, find out what's happening and then also have interactive dialogue because you can leave comments as well, when you have your user name and password."