Parents Voice in Government School Education

Building a sense of community

Parent Clubs fulfil an important social function. This has always been and continues to be a significant aspect of any Parent Club’s purpose.

Apart from joining your parent group to try and do something about improving your school, people will be joining the group for all sorts of more personal reasons. Some people may be looking for new friends or a feeling of “belonging” to a group. Others may be interested in working to achieve something. It’s important for the sake of the group that these needs are recognised and at least partly met within the Parent Club. A club that is concerned only with getting a job done and is not concerned with making it socially enjoyable at the same time will suffer very quickly from dwindling numbers and disgruntled members.

Making it happen

Without an underlying sense of community, most parents club activities are doomed to failure. Developing and maintaining a sense of school community doesn’t just happen – people have to make it happen. The task is much more achievable when people from all groups who make up the school community work together.

However, the Parent Club should not be deterred if this cooperation isn’t offered immediately – some changes take time to achieve. Building a sense of community should be part of every activity the club runs, whether that activity relates to an educational issue, fundraising, student welfare or anything else.

There is a range of initiatives that can be used to enhance parents’ sense of belonging; here are a few suggestions:

  • Start a Parent Club newsletter or have a Parent Club section in the school newsletter.
  • Start up an email group to keep everyone up to date and informed of upcoming events or items for discussion at the next Parents Club meeting for those people who cannot attend but still wish to contribute.
  • Vary Parent Club meeting times – some in the day, others in the evening to obtain good representation of all parents.
  • Extend personal invitations to incoming new parents to make them feel welcome in their new community.
  • Ensure a flyer goes home to all parents, listing Parents Club office bearers and School Council members to enable other parents to contact them if needed.
  • Arrange for a morning cuppa to be available in the Parent Room/ Staff Room. This provides a good opportunity to meet other parents.