Despite there having been many meetings and workshop events involving parents prior to this, this week saw our first meeting of the Parent Focus Group.
This group has been convened to ….
- … assist Island School to engage parents in the whole process of decant and redevelopment;
- … represent the broader views of the parent body;
- … formulate concrete and useful recommendations to the steering group, council and the school leadership team so that decisions we make are as much as possible, in line with parents’ needs and wants.
The focus group is very much that, a working group. Whilst the meetings will involve a lot of exchange of views and opinions, its main purpose is to marshal the parent involvement process and to manage the effective communications around all aspects of decant and redevelopment.
- There was a broad agreement that, whilst there has been high levels of transparency around redevelopment and decant issues thus far, more could be done to ensure that key consistent messages are widely distributed and understood amongst the wider parent community.
- There was a recognition that whilst parent views as expressed at ‘town hall’ meetings and workshops had been moderate and supportive, there is anecdotal evidence that some parents have a less positive view on the future development of the school.
- Some ideas that will be followed up on ….
- Coffee mornings held at partner primary schools that start as the school day starts. These will aim to provide updates and a chance for discussion to primary parents;
- More regular information events at Island School to coincide with parent consultation afternoons. By doing this we hope to reach parents who are already in school to meet with their child’s teachers.
- Gareth and Mat to present at the committee of Principals at ESF centre to all primary Principals so that they are all up dated on redevelopment issues;
- Identify a link contact in each primary school’s PTA so that we have a ‘go to’ person with influence with our ‘feeder’ school’s parent community.
- Setting up a redevelopment information desk at the Island School PTA Spring fair on 4th April;
- Exploring ways of getting key messages out on a regular basis using social networking and/or the school website;
The meeting discussed the forthcoming parent survey and a commitment was made to work on this so that the survey tool can be the most effective it can be. We agreed that we need to balance the need to get parent input on various decisions about how the school should be split, with the need to give parents a voice to raise any concerns we might not have already thought of.
Decant Decision Timeline
Much time was spent discussing the low attendance rate at the school’s information events on decant and redevelopment thus far. With crucial decisions about to be made before the end of this academic year, it is important to involve the wider parent body. Some in the group suggested that many parents will not engage until the real decisions and decant destinations are announced. The point was made that at such time when we do go public on decisions, we must have the findings from a whole range of feasibility studies to ensure that we can communicate the preferred model with some in depth understanding of how we might meet the challenges it will undoubtedly give us.
On the whole the first meeting was an incredibly positive and creative experience.