Parents Voice in Government School Education

Starting the year right

The start of the school year presents some great opportunities for Parent Clubs to:

  • Welcome new families to the school
  • Capitalise on the enthusiasm of new families who will be excited about their child starting school/starting secondary school. Remember that many new parents will have experience of volunteering and serving on committees at kinder or primary school.
  • For returning families, reminding them of what your Club offers. Despite your best efforts at promotion, it’s amazing how many parents don’t know their school has a Parent Club, or have forgotten about it in the daily busy-ness of a parent.

Plan in advance

You won’t want to be doing all this in a rush in the first week of school, and for many things that’s too late anyway. Planning for the start of the school year needs to take place in Term 4 of the previous year.

Term 1 activities

Make sure your Parent Club is part of the school’s activities and information for new families.

  • If there’s a school information session for new families, have a representative there to speak to families and answer questions.
  • If there’s an information pack for new families, create a flyer and ask your school to include it. It doesn’t have to be a ‘professional’ brochure, but make sure you include a personal message of welcome and encouragement to get involved, contact details (email or phone), invitation to the first meeting, and a rundown of what the Club does and how people can contribute.
  • A social event for new families is a great way to welcome them to the school. Some clubs have a regular coffee morning in Term 1, others organise an evening barbecue or picnic on the school grounds.
  • If your school publishes a calendar, ask to have your Club’s meetings and events included. If not, consider how you can promote your meetings and events to the school community, perhaps by publishing on the school website, school newsletter or social media. A regular meeting schedule, e.g. “First Tuesday of the month, 7:30pm” is easy for you to promote and parents to remember.
  • Make sure you have an article in the first school Newsletter of the year, promoting the Club and its activities, and welcoming new members.

The first meeting

  • Encourage existing members to bring a friend.
  • Provide name tags so new people can learn names easily. Just use some old mailing labels and a texta, and allow everyone to write their own.
  • Welcome newcomers and make sure the Chair explains what’s going on throughout the meeting. Keep all discussions open to all participants; everyone should feel welcome and able to give their view and ask questions.
  • The Chair will need to strike the right balance between observing good meeting procedure (so the meeting is productive and time-efficient) while allowing some informality so that newcomers feel welcome and able to participate.
  • Make relevant documents available, e.g. Constitution, Aims and Objectives, Annual Calendar with schedule of meetings.
  • Small group discussions may be appropriate if a lot of people attend.