In an agreement with the ACT Government, Council receives an annual grant to:
- support affiliated school P&C associations
- promote parent participation in government schools
- advise government on views, expectations and concerns of parents and carers
- participate on relevant committees and working parties.
To continue to receive our grant, Council demonstrates that it is achieving these purposes in an annual report and grant acquittal for the Education Directorate (EDU). Council’s Executive Committee, office staff and P&C association Council Delegates must work together to meet our obligations. We rely on many parents and carers to attend Council meetings and events, represent us on external committees and contribute to our input to government.
How Council achieves the first purpose above should be obvious to all P&C members but if you are not aware then look at the P&C Resources on our website (freshly updated!) and sign up for our email bulletins. Below is a summary of how Council fulfils the last three of our purposes.
Promote parent participation
Council promotes active parent partnerships with schools through its everyday work by:
- including information in our magazine and on our website about successful collaborations between P&Cs and schools
- exchanging information at Council meetings (each meeting has a session called ‘Issues from P&Cs’)
- encouraging P&Cs to consider that they are more than just fundraising bodies – they have an integral role in linking parents with schools
- developing and putting in place strategies to promote parent participation, for example our Schools and Communities in Partnerships sub-committee has worked with Companion House to help migrant families connect to schools
- providing telephone and email advice to P&Cs and individual parents on strengthening communication and relationships with schools
- helping to ensure that EDU policies give due weight to parent/carer views and participation by providing comments on draft policies
- promoting ways in which parents and their P&Cs can support their schools and school communities
- developing in conjunction with EDU a volunteer recognition and appreciation certificate
- maintaining Council’s media profile and increasing Council’s social media presence and public awareness.
Advise government on parent views
Council meets regularly with both the Minister for Education, the Director General and senior officers at EDU. At these meetings, matters are raised which have been brought to Council meetings by P&C association delegates, members of the Executive or resulting from our annual members’ survey. The meetings also provide Council representatives with the opportunity to present parents’ positions on important subjects such as:
- the effectiveness of ACT schools and school autonomy
- inter-agency action in dealing with students with challenging behaviours associated with family issues
- the government promise to provide a ‘tablet’ for every secondary student, and BYOD and Google Apps concerns
- emphasis on the teaching of languages in schools
- need for centralised funding for interpreter services at ACT schools
- ‘Schools for All’ and ‘Safe Schools’ policies
- school and class capacity issues
- disability transport issues
- gifted and talented students
- school principalsand their relationship with their P&C
- establishment of an independent appeals review authority
- clarifications around the school food and drink policy and fact sheets
- school crossing supervisor trial
- preschool classes and late enrolments
- delays in replacing principals and teachers.
In the past 12 months Council also wrote a submission for the ACT budget and provided feedback to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission and Access Canberra on P&C reporting obligations. Council representatives discussed challenges for canteens at the Collaborative Working Group on Food in Schools and commented on school traffic and buses at the School Transport Liaison Committee and meetings with Transport Canberra.
Our submissions and committee input is based on the views of P&Cs put forward through our general and sub-committee meetings, formal opportunities to comment on draft submissions and through member surveys, and based on detailed research by our policy officer.
Participate on committees
Council is represented on a wide range of committees or working/reference groups consulting on areas such as community health, animal ethics in schools, sustainability initiatives in schools, careers and transitions, digital citizenship, child protection, and disability education. We also promote and find parent representatives to participate in more formal bodies such as the Board of Senior Secondary Studies and the College Enrolment Appeals Committee.
We’d urge anyone interested in getting more involved in schooling in Canberra, having their say or representing the point of view of parents to come along to one of our regular meetings (the fourth Tuesday of the month in term time, see the back page for dates). Representative positions on a broad range of government working groups are usually filled at our Annual General Meeting in term four (November 28 this year).
This article appeared in ParentACTion, Term 3, 2017.