sweet.jpgSweet Spot

And now for a couple of good news stories …

First, an email from Joanne Wheaton, a parent involved with Kaniva College:

“I know you probably hear this from every school but, I believe our school is well on the way down the path you are hoping to create.

We are a small rural P-12 school. Our enrolments stand at about 230. We are the only school in town and our enrolments come from one kinder. I believe our parents’ group is unique in Victoria. When all of the local ‘feeder’ schools closed about 40 years ago to make the Kaniva Consolidated School, each of the local communities retained their own Parents Clubs (known here as Welfare Groups) which then had representatives come together during the year to meet. This still continues today. This combined group fills one of the co-opted positions on our school council, the other co-opted position is shared by two students.

The Kaniva Combined Parents Association (KCPA) school council representative, Kaye Bothe, and myself attended the Parents Victoria conference in Melbourne earlier this year. At this we heard [about the Bureau] and we went home even more inspired about our school — both what it already is and what it could be!

Since this trip Kaye has spoken to individual groups and is trying to increase participation. These groups have been running for a long time and it has been assumed that people know how they run and what they are there for. Unfortunately, over time, they have become viewed largely as fundraising groups and people are put off by the thought of just being involved to cater.

That is all changing! A new generation of parents are becoming involved as they find that these individual groups and the KCPA are like peak bodies for the parents. Kaye and I spoke at the kindergarten’s AGM last week, informing parents they can be involved in the school through the Welfare Groups, School Council and less formal ways. It’s all about demystifying the system and making parents feel like a part of their children’s education even after they have started school.

We are fortunate to have a new, young principal, Tiffany Holt. Together we share the vision of Kaniva College being the best P-12 school in Victoria, and beyond!
We are also at Stage 4 of Building Futures and are busily working with architects to form a master plan which will see our primary section refurbished and new buildings built to fit our p-4, 5-8 & 9-12 sub-school structure. I would love it if you could suggest ways of obtaining extra funding to have a parents’ space included in our new school. If the Government is serious about the family/school partnership they need to fund the infrastructure to make it happen.

What is happening at Kaniva is exciting, and with the possibility of the new school coming closer to being a reality it is the perfect time to physically build from the ground up what we already have established in the people.”

The second story, from Debbie Nobbs at Cranbourne West Primary, highlights the benefits of a dedicated Parent and Community Liaison Officer:

“I thought you might be interested in our school in the South East Region of Melbourne. I believe that we may be unique, in that the principal has allocated funding for a full-time Parent and Community Liaison Officer.

I have been in this role for almost 2 years and we have demonstrated that allocating resources to improving partnerships between school, family and community pays high dividends.

My job is to build upon our community initiatives, develop value-added programs for our students and their families, and work with our broader community utilising a community development framework to support individuals, families and our broader community. As well as allocating a worker to develop these programs, the school has also allocated space to develop a Parents and Volunteers Room

We have significantly increased the percentage of parents and community members who volunteer in programs within the school and the broader community. We have initiated and/or enhanced a broad range of programs that improve student health and well-being, such as Breakfast Club, Brunch Club, Emergency Lunches, Lunchtime Activities and Mentoring programs, just to name a few.

We have received significant financial support for the development of our programs through government funding, and support from local businesses and services. We have developed strong partnerships with a number of local organisations including WillowWood Aged Care Facility, Anglicare, CHIPS, Salvation Army, City of Casey, Youth Services, Cranbourne Community Plan, Turning Point Family Church, Cranbourne Police, YMCA etc. These partnerships benefit both our school community and the organisations we partner with.”

Do you have a positive story to share about family school and community partnerships? Don’t keep it a secret – someone else might just benefit from your experiences.