Schools are facing calls to boost family engagement after a survey revealed parents have been waiting as long as two years for a discussion with teachers about their children’s progress.

Early results from research by Connect also indicate around a quarter of parents are not being offered any kind of consultation, with some only getting daytime appointments they cannot keep due to work commitments.

More than 300 responses have been received as part of the survey process, which will continue until the end of the month.

The findings come after ministers paused a planned relaxation of Covid-19 mitigations that would have paved the way for events such as in-person, multi-class and multi-year group parents’ evenings.

However, current guidance says schools and local authorities should continue to engage with families. It adds: “It will be important to consider the impact of parents not routinely going into the school buildings, and to ensure that this does not pose a barrier to open ongoing communication.

“There are a range of steps that can be taken to continue and support activities such as parent council meetings, parents’ evenings and subject choice discussions. In relation to parents’ evenings, the supplementary Covid-19 Education Recovery Group (CERG) practice guidance on parental involvement and engagement states that ‘[a]lternative methods and approaches to reporting will need to be used’. The guidance points to digital and online approaches as alternatives to face-to-face meetings.”

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Scottish Government officials have also stressed that individual parental visits related to the wellbeing, progress and behaviour of children can be arranged. However, Connect executive director Eileen Prior said: “We are disappointed that parents' access to schools, particularly for face-to-face parent consultations/evenings, remains off-limits.

“Parents have a legal right to be involved in their child's education and schools cannot simply refuse to play their part by not sharing information about children's progress or discussing plans for their learning.”

Ms Prior, whose organisation strives to support parental involvement in education, stressed online and telephone consultations were “working well" for "some families and some schools”. But she added: “Early findings in our current parent/carer survey suggest that around 25 per cent of parents are not being offered any kind of consultation.

“Some parents say they have had no parents' consultation of any kind for two years now. Other parents tell us they are only being offered daytime appointments, which they can't take part in because of their own work commitments.

“Schools and nurseries must make arrangements that are workable and meaningful for parents. The critical role of parents in supporting their child - and the teacher - is otherwise being ignored, which will have consequences for the child’s learning.”

HeraldScotland: AHDS general secretary Greg Dempster.AHDS general secretary Greg Dempster.

Bosses at the national organisations for headteachers and other senior staff said significant effort had gone into developing “alternative” means of sharing information with parents.

Greg Dempster, general secretary at the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland, said: “This is important feedback from Connect, which highlights that a sizeable minority of parents do not feel they have been adequately engaged with by schools.

“Schools have worked hard to adapt their ways of working to the realities forced upon us by Covid and government guidance. Inevitably, these new approaches don’t suit everyone – which is just as true about parents’ nights – so while some feel less engaged, others have the opposite view.

"Where a parent has concerns or feels that they don’t have enough information about their child’s learning and development, they need to get in touch with their school.”

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Jim Thewliss, general secretary at School Leaders Scotland, added: “Schools have always been conscious of the importance of engaging with parents in young people’s learning.

“In the absence of face-to-face consultations and conversations over the last 18 months, school leaders have made every effort to devise alternative ways of sharing information with parents and to create lines of communication with the home to enable parents to raise issues and share concerns with school staff.”

Scottish Conservative Oliver Mundell, Shadow Education Secretary, said: “Parents have a legal right to be included in their child’s learning, and it is unacceptable that a substantial number are being denied that due to the SNP’s disproportionate school restrictions and lack of planning. 

“A quarter of parents in the survey are still in the dark on the toll two years of disrupted learning has taken on their children’s education.

"If the SNP are unwilling to listen to the experts and reduce their restrictions, they must to do more to support school resources to improve parental engagement.”

HeraldScotland: Oliver Mundell has called for more to be done to support parental engagement.Oliver Mundell has called for more to be done to support parental engagement.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "It is vital that schools continue to support parental engagement during this unprecedented time.

"Our guidance makes clear that alternative methods to report to parents are available and many schools are making good use of telephone or online parent consultations.

“Where it is considered beneficial, our guidance also allows for parents to attend school premises for individual parental visits related to the wellbeing, progress and behaviour of children.

“As always, we continuously review the school mitigations based upon clinical and public health expert advice.”