NDLF – Opinion Piece – Seonaid Heeps – Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC)

Parents & Digital Learning

SPTC is the only Scottish charity whose sole purpose is promotion of quality engagement of parents and families in children’s education. Our funding comes through membership for parent groups (parent councils, parent teacher associations etc.). We provide a wide range of membership benefits, as well as information, support and advice to any parent or carer who contacts us. We use a mix of traditional and digital media to engage parents and others. SPTC also works across the education sector in Scotland, advocating for and sharing best practice around parental involvement.

Parental involvement in children’s education is widely seen as a positive thing. Translating that principle into practice is often a challenge for professionals. Digital technology has been identified as an area of challenge: how much can or should parents or carers be involved in digital learning? How to involve them? And whose job is it?

We survey our parent contacts on a regular basis about topics around education, most recently on the topic of ICT. Here are some of the key points from 400 responses:

  • Almost half of respondents (46.9%) said their children either submit or access homework online.
  • 78.5% of respondents say their child’s school has access to GLOW.
  • Respondents repeatedly highlighted how disparate ICT access is in schools around Scotland.
  • 24% of those who commented mentioned that budget constraints and bandwidth issues were limiting ICT usage in their child’s school.
  • 11% highlighted that their child’s teachers appeared to have little or no training on how to use the technology.
  • Many respondents commented they had no idea what technologies their child was using in school, others felt their child was more technologically advanced than they were.

The latter point is particularly important. If parents do not have access to up to date information and advice about digital learning, or feel confident in the digital environment, how can they contribute fully? If parents, who are their children’s primary educator, do not have full access to GLOW, how can they support their children’s learning?

We think the National Digital Learning Strategy presents an opportunity for some of these issues to be addressed. Parental involvement in the implementation of the strategy will strengthen the impact of it on both the parents themselves and the children and teaching staff it affects.

One thought

  1. This (last) goes almost without saying. Any involvement indicates interest which is likely to mitigate progress. My school, like many, has had a mix of approaches and levels of activity. We are now moving towards much greater consistency of approach. We will be utilising the Classroom tools available through Glow. We hope that to substantially increase parental awareness of student work and progress as a result. This should support students and parents.


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