How Can I Get Involved In My Child’s Primary School?
Most schools have their own website. It can help to keep you informed of school activities, policies, events, timetables and opportunities for you to be involved.
Schools may organise cake stalls, fetes, fundraising evenings, concerts and plays or social events for parents and teachers. These may require some contribution from parents in the form of making cakes, sewing costumes (often at the last moment because your child has forgotten to tell you that he/she needs a costume for the play!), painting scenery or just their presence at the event.
Some schools also hold meetings for parents to explain or discuss academic matters or proposed changes to school policy. These may be opportunities to have your opinion listened to and to hear what other parents think as well.
In addition, if the school has a Parent Teacher Association, it might organise a welcoming event for new parents and will have regular meetings during the year.
Your child’s school will also be inspected regularly by the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) and at that time you will be asked to fill in a questionnaire giving your opinions, concerns or praise for the school. Again, this is a good opportunity to have your voice heard.
It is likely that you will be asked to sign a home–school agreement that lays out what you can expect from the school and what they, in turn, can expect from you. It is not legally binding and you do not have to sign it, but do read it carefully to understand what the school believes are your responsibilities. Home-school agreements should be reviewed from time to time and parents should be consulted before changes are made.
What can I do to help in school?
In primary schools, there are a variety of ways for parents to be involved. Having a presence in the school ensures that staff are aware of your commitment to your child’s education and this may make a difference to the way in which your child is viewed. If staff know who you are – and you know them – it may mean that potential problems can be sorted very early before they have a chance to escalate.
As a parent you may be invited to come in to read with individual children or a group of children on a regular basis. You could also be invited into school to tell stories or demonstrate a particular skill for special events such as Black History Month or to talk about the Traveller lifestyle. You might be able to volunteer as a mentor or become a teaching assistant. There could be special projects that require parental assistance, such as maintaining green spaces, painting walls, sorting out the library or being part of a committee that’s trying to raise funds for a new science block.
Some schools have a system of class representatives chosen from among parents. You could put your name forward if you’re willing to keep in touch with what’s happening in the class and school and to pass on that information to other parents. It could also be a useful way of getting to know other parents and other children in your son or daughter’s class as well as the class teacher. In any event, it’s worth getting to know your class rep.
You might consider becoming a governor at your child’s school if a vacancy arises. You’ll need to find out more about what governors do, perhaps by shadowing a current governor. You’ll have to set out your vision for the school and get other parents to vote for you. Being a governor may not be easy; a commitment of time is needed and some parent governors from Black and Minority Ethnic groups report that they feel isolated, ignored or sidelined. However, the rewards may be great for you and your child, particularly if you can get support from other parents or groups.
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