A PIONEERING project is aiming to get parents back to school in an attempt to narrow the pupil attainment gap.

Headteacher Kate Fisher saw an opportunity to benefit children at Hareleeshill Primary, Larkhall, by bolstering their parents’ confidence and employability skills through a programme developed by education consultancy Curriculo Solutions.

The tailored eight-week course teaches parents CV building, networking and interview skills, as well as helping them identify their unique skillsets.

Ms Fisher, who has worked at Hareleeshill for 16 years, was introduced to the collaborative course after a version was used for pupils at St Stephen’s Primary, Coatbridge.

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She said: “Because of the demographics, it’s really important to have a strong focus on employment skills. The community that surrounds our school has a high percentage of unemployment, so it was important for us to establish not only an aspiration for our children about higher and further education, but for employment and work.”

With a population of 319,000 in South Lanarkshire, some 4 per cent are unemployed and 15% of households have no working adults within them.

Parents will work through the course in two batches over the academic year, four hours a week during school hours with a tutor.

Ms Fisher added: “If we get 10 of our parents back into the world of work, that has a knock-on effect on our children in terms of experiences our parents can provide for them, but also the messages it gives their children in terms of their future development.

“My vision for the school has always been that our children can achieve. They are as capable of achieving what other children in more affluent areas achieve, they just need for us to give them more tools and signposting.”

For Amanda McDougall, 41, who has three sons, the thought of going back into full-time work was “terrifying”.

She said: “I’ve had a lot of adverse life experiences, a lot of social challenges [and] a lot of things that have dented my personal confidence, so the course has helped me get my sense of self back and enabled me to believe in myself so I can make life better for us collectively as a family.”

Ms McDougall hopes to work with children living with autism and their parents. She said: “My son at the school has an autism diagnosis and through learning different things to support him I have a lot of knowledge in that area but have never known how to use it.”

Ms Fisher and her staff have plans for the school, which has 200 pupils, that will further enrich the community.

“Our next step is to develop a family hub, that Hareleeshill become a centre of learning for all; parents, pupils and staff”, she said. “It’s important the children see their parents coming to school and that education can be accessed at any time throughout your life.”

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Joanne Sayer, 40, who has four children, trained as a teacher but hasn’t worked for 10 years while she raised her family. She has found “a sense of direction” since starting the programme last month.

She said: “It has refreshed my memory because the world of work has changed so much. It gives you a chance to reflect on what your strengths are. A lot of the time we forget what we are good at because we don’t take the time to think about it.”

Lisa Clelland, who has two pupils at the school, has been unemployed since having her youngest child, who is now six. The 31-year-old said: “I’ve been desperate to get back to work. I’ve been working since I was 15 and just needed help to get back out there. It’s really made me aware of my strengths.”

Curriculo Solutions offers skills for work resources for primary-school-age children as well as graduates and undergraduates.

Karen Glen, Curriculo Solutions director, said: “Parents are one of the key influencers of young people. If you are trying to raise attainment in young people just through pupils and teachers, you’re missing a trick. If we get it right with parents as well, we will have a much better opportunity to really influence the outcomes of young people.”