Why parental participation is vital

Dear St Andrew’s Community,

We talk a lot about community and relationships here at the College.  They are evident in our value Statement: Builds connections for respectful relationships.  Research is clear in supporting the notion that students thrive when there are strong relationships within their school, with staff who mentor, care for and respect the individual needs of the child.

At St Andrew’s I want to begin to take this one step further.  I believe we have a strong connection with our parent community; however, as our children move through the College into their secondary and Senior years parents often find it more difficult to connect with the College. 

I recently came across a wonderful research paper that discussed the key to a successful move through the schooling years as being 'relationships'. In the article, the author agrees that parents' participation is critical in a child’s education (especially through the Secondary years).  Evidence clearly shows that this partnership increases the likelihood that students will achieve at a high level and be well-adjusted.   The catch is though, that as our children grow up, we think they don’t need our involvement as much and in many traditional ways that is correct.  Our children don’t need us to carry their bags, to intercede for them with an issue with a teacher, or to argue on their behalf that their child really should be excused from a College expectation.  These are areas where our children need to learn to be independent, to think, problem solve and negotiate essential life skills.

What our children need is for us to maintain strong relationships with other parents and with teachers.  The problem is that we know so many parents do just the opposite and instead of maintaining and building upon the relationship they may have had with their child's primary education and teachers, they pull away when they hit secondary school – some never to be seen again!   On face value it makes some sense, our children grow up and they need to develop independence, our Secondary kids also don't really want us turning up, no matter what the reason!  I confess this is often a fine line that Staff walk as Secondary parents who work at the College, as so many of us have our children here too.

As our children move through their journey at St Andrew’s, we want you to stay connected.  Even as your children enter secondary school.  This is a time, when parents not only need to be very well-informed about our College and what happens, it is vitally important to develop effective parent networks. I can’t state strongly enough how incredibly important this is. It can assist us in all sorts of areas, particularly issues with social media, on-line issues like gaming, how much homework they really have, parties and gatherings and, of course, the challenges of substances such as alcohol.

I want to encourage all parents to build strong networks with other parents and identify like-minded parents who have similar values and attitudes to you. It will be so helpful in the future.  Your teenage children will try and 'silo' us as much as possible, telling us that you can't call the parent hosting a sleepover or making sure they limit the amount of information they give you about any upcoming event – don't 'silo' yourself! Get involved, stay involved and keep talking to one another.

It has been wonderful to see parents at our information evenings and as the year continues, attend as many information or social evenings as you can now and later – they're important! Let’s be honest, we don’t host these because we all love staying at school until late!  We host them because we want you to feel connected to this community.   Please also take every opportunity to meet other parents through school events, we all must find ways to meet parents and create those vital networks.

As Head of College Development, Sue Sagar is passionate about encouraging opportunities for parents to meet and if you have any ideas or would like to assist her with a particular year level, please contact her on email ssagar@saac.qld.edu.au.

Next Tuesday, 6th February I host a welcome to 2018 function and I would encourage parents to come along and meet other parents and our staff.  Then on Wednesday 7th we host a Year 7 Parent Gathering and Q&A.  The focus here is on ensuring our Year 7 parents feel connected to what is happening in Year 7, a quick overview of the camp, but just as importantly, to find ways to both further develop and keep those all-important parent relationships.  You will be able to meet our Year 7 parent rep and hear about our first parent function to be held during the transition camp!

If parents have any pre-prepared questions for the Year 7 evening, to ensure it is helpful, please email these to Mr Andrew Linthorne at alinthorne@saac.qld.edu.

Likewise, if you are a parent in another year level and would be interested in assisting to build connections with other parents in your year level, please contact Sue Sagar as above.

Best wishes,

Reverend Chris Ivey