The network of Council delegates for P&C associations brings the views of parents, through Council, to decision makers.
Make sure your school is linked in!
At the beginning of the year, each P&C elects a Council delegate. It is the delegate’s job to gather issues, concerns and points of view from their P&C members and then voice these at Council meetings. Because of the wealth of experience present at meetings, these concerns can often be answered. However, if delegates from other schools share the concern, together the meeting will decide how Council can best take up the issue.
Bringing about change
There are many recent examples of Council responding to delegate concerns and representing parents to bringing about change:
- lobbying for solutions to ongoing traffic problems at schools, such as supervisors for school crossing, problems initially voiced at Council meetings by delegates
- ACT Labor Government’s promise of a device for every high school student came after Council pressure due to parent concerns on BYOD policies
- working with the Education Directorate and bus companies to ensure drivers of special transport services receive disability awareness training
- agitating for a major project, undertaken through ACT Health, to help school canteens in response to ongoing concerns from delegates about their financial viability. This assistance has been gratefully received, great resources have been created and a new Canteen Business Manual is coming soon!
The network of delegates, regularly and fully informing Council about parent opinion, is vital to the way Council works. Council representative are then in an excellent position to represent your views and bring issues affecting your school and community to the attention of government.
Talking to decision makers
Council is well connected to take parent concerns to those who can address them. Council executives meet regularly with the Education Minister and senior officials from the Education Directorate. The Directorate also regularly seek Council input into emerging education policies and practices. In addition, Council writes formal submissions representing the views and concerns of parents to official inquiries.
Our members are also involved in many decision-making groups and government committees where they represent parents. Examples include the Digital Citizenship Reference Group (commenting on the use of technology in schools), a Disability Education Reference Group (providing parent input on disability issues) and the Literacy and Numeracy Group. Representative roles like these provide an interesting insight for parents and a unique opportunity to have your say.
Any delegate can nominate for these committee positions. Delegates can also nominate to join Council Executive to help pilot our activities and responses.
Council also lobbies candidates in the lead-up to local elections to draw their attention to improvements needed at our schools. Last election we were successful in securing promises for major additional spending on school buildings, amongst others.
It works both ways
Council meetings include a range of announcements on new information, events and services of interest to public school parents and P&Cs. There are also guest speakers from the Education Directorate and elsewhere who provide details on new developments. So an important role for Council delegates is to report useful information from Council gatherings back to their P&C.
Ideally, there should be a place on each P&C agenda for the delegate to report on Council happenings and to gather any feedback from those at the P&C meeting. In this way, delegates can consult with their own P&C associations on the matters discussed by Council and gather views for the next Council meeting.
If possible, delegates should also help to keep the wider school community informed of what is happening in the educational arena by conveying information from Council, for example, through the school’s newsletter.
Council delegates really are a conduit, connecting parents’ opinions on the education of their children with Council’s lobbying abilities and experience.
Interesting, not onerous
Council meetings are held in Stirling on the fourth Tuesday of each month during school term (two per term). They start at 7pm and end at 9:30 sharp.
A standing agenda item ‘Issues from Schools’ enables delegates to raise matters on behalf of their own school communities for discussion and possible action.
We know that getting to evening meetings can be a juggle. It may be helpful to share the load by appointing an alternate delegate so that if a delegate cannot attend a meeting for some reason, the P&C is still represented. P&C association presidents and secretaries are also encouraged to attend P&C Council meetings should their delegate not be able to attend, or if they have questions.
Council meetings are a great place to talk to officer-bearers from other P&Cs and find out how they handle the challenges of a volunteer parent organisation in their school.
Most delegates find the discussions about educational issues very interesting and informative and appreciate the opportunity to meet parent and carers from other schools.
Join us for a welcome event for new Council delegates at the beginning of our regular March meeting. There will be something to eat, information to help new delegates, and experienced veterans on hand to greet you. It’s on Tuesday March 27, at 6:30pm at the Centre for Teaching and Learning in Stirling.
We look forward to seeing see all our delegates throughout the year.
There's more about the role of Delegate here.
This article appeared in ParentACTion Magazine, Term 1, 2018.