For Liane Joubert, the president of Cranleigh School’s 3 person P&C, the starting point is the needs of the school community.
“If I think of my own journey as a special needs parent, it was such a daunting time receiving a diagnosis and having to deal with the grief of not going to have a ‘typical’ parenting experience that I and so many other parents dream of,” Liane says.
“The P&C, for me, was an opportunity to create a community where parents can be just that, parents.
“It’s a place where we can talk without judgement and find some sort of normalcy as parents outside of our full-time carer roles.”
Cranleigh School P&C’s main focus for the year was to improve parent engagement in the community, without requiring any “overbearing commitment” from parents.
“We set out to ensure that we don’t ask more of our parent and carer community as they are all already dealing with more than they should,” Liane says.
“It’s a space where there is no obligation to participate if you do not have the mental capacity to do so.”
With just 3 parents this year able to take on committee positions it was essential for the team at Cranleigh P&C to find ways to reduce the burden, both on themselves and on their community.
“I think being a 3 person P&C is one thing, but when each member of your P&C has multiple personal challenges that go along with being a special needs parent, it becomes interesting juggling responsibilities and workloads” Liane says.
“Other than the official required duties, we all share the responsibilities of President, Treasurer and Secretary based on our availability and mental capacity.”
Events and other activities run by the P&C are also adjusted to cater to the community’s needs.
“All fund raisers are aimed at the community instead of our parent and carer cohort,” Liane says.
“We also aim to find fundraisers that require little effort in managing.
“Our scope for any activity usually starts out much bigger than what we end up delivering. We often must scale down or pivot based on each individual member’s capacity to contribute.”
Liane’s tips for successful P&C activities with fewer volunteers
- Manage the expectations of the P&C, as well as the school. Building a strong relationship with the school is key, ensuring that all are working towards the same goals.
- Identifying a theme, probably annually, will help keep the activities focused and within the scope and capacity of the P&C – Cranleigh School’s focus this year was staff appreciation.
- Take it step-by-step. Have an overarching plan for the year but be sure to focus on smaller chunks.
- Identify important dates or milestones as they align with the school calendar and make sure to identify what capacity the P&C has to contribute.
- Holding repeat activities that don’t require re-inventing the wheel every time reduces the load on P&C members.
- Building relationships with community partners can also provide some easier activities and community contributions.
Pictured: Cranleigh School P&C committee Jesusa, Liane and Mary.