Council education bosses have pledged to improve engagement with Dundee’s schools – as more than half of parents of secondary-age pupils report feeling unsatisfied with the feedback they receive.
The local authority is set to run a three-year improvement plan past elected members on Monday night which seeks to improve the quality of education and social work across the city.
Key among the proposals is to boost the engagement of parents with their local schools. Last year just 44% of parents of secondary-age children reported being satisfied with the feedback they received on what their school was doing.
Council bosses hope to boost this to 67% by the end of this school year, and to boost primary parent engagement to 75% from 66% last year.
A report co-authored by children and family services chief Paul Clancy and children’s services acting head Glyn Lloyd admitted that there were “a number of areas for improvement” in education and social work in the city – and additional challenges presenting themselves in mental health, troubled households and substance misuse.
The plan is the first of its kind to join up education, social work and community justice under the current “children and families” banner – and it aims to reduce inequalities and the impact of deprivation on children’s attainment in school and beyond.
The report noted: “We know that each of these issues can have a marked impact on the health, wellbeing and development of children and young people.
“This includes risks to and from children and young people, with around 120 children and young people becoming newly Looked After each year; over 500 children and young people currently Looked After; 115 placed on the Child Protection Register every year; and typically around 75 on the Child Protection Register at any given time.”
The council’s record on “looked after children” is improving – a recent report on those for whom the council is a legal guardian suggested fewer kids are having to leave their homes and enter the care of the state.
As well as improving parental engagement, Dundee City Council is also seeking to increase the number of nursery places offering 1,140 hours of childcare five-fold by the end of this school year, in line with Scottish Government plans to make it standard from August 2020.
School chiefs also hope to keep the city’s education targets on track, with attendance rates and positive destinations tracking at over 90%.
A greater challenge will be to improve the “tariff score” – the metric used to measure a pupil’s overall performance in schools – for children from deprived backgrounds.
The average tariff score for a pupil coming from the most deprived areas of Dundee is nearly 30% lower than the city-wide mean – a gap school chiefs want to narrow to 15% by the end of the school year.