Children often spend their entire primary school life in the same school, and likewise for secondary school. Over this time, long-lasting relationships form between children, teachers and parents. We recently explored ways at encouraging parents to become more involved in the school community through volunteering. In this article we are going to look at more formal ways for parents to be involved in the school, in particular the decision-making process relating to school governance.
Epstein (2010) defines decision making as strategies that include families and community members as partners in school decisions and develop parent leaders and representatives. In practical terms, this may include one or more of the following:
- Invite the school community to be consulted on new school policies, e.g. any assessment, curriculum and reporting changes
- Encourage active participation in school councils, advisory councils, or committees for parent leadership and participation
- Establish networks to link all families with parent representatives
- Offer training and support to parent leaders
Your school website provides a great opportunity to facilitate formal parental involvement in school governance. We examine 4 ways to use your school website to your advantage.
Profiling the parents involved in school governance is important for a number of reasons. Being able to associate a face to a name encourages parents within the school community to approach parent representatives in person should any issues arise. Biographical information about parent representatives highlight the diversity of those involved in school governance and the importance that the voices of parents from varying backgrounds are heard. Easily accessible contact details show that representatives are available to listen and discuss any issues or concerns within the school community.
Information about formal parental involvement
As with volunteering, there is often a misconception that there is a significant time commitment required in order for parents to become involved in their school community. This is not always true and providing detailed about formal involvement in school governance may in fact encourage more parents to become involved.
Your school website should provide information about formal involvement, including:
- Outline of duties as a parent representative
- Expected time commitment
- Benefits of formal involvement on parent’s own children
The last point is particularly noteworthy, as formal involvement by parents demonstrates to their children the importance in education and how school governance and management is a community-based process.
We’ve discussed previously how useful parent portals are in enabling open communication between teachers and parents and encouraging learning at home. The use of parent portals can be extended even further, in the following ways:
- Establish an online network to connect current parents with parent representatives in a safe, secure and friendly environment. Current parents can directly message their parent representatives with any issues, concerns or ideas
- Establish an online forum to encourage parents in the school community to discuss school issues. Parent representatives can moderate these forums and use any feedback to gain a better understanding of parent and child needs, issues or ideas
Expression of Interest
Having a streamlined process for parents to express interest in becoming formally involved in school governance is essential. Your school website should contain an online form for parents to register their interest. This form can be customised to collect information such as interest areas, skills and availability.
You school website should be a resource hub for parents to find out more information about formal involvement in school governance. Parent profiles help current parent representatives be more approachable by the school community. Detailed information about formal involvement better informs parents about the expectations of being a representative. Parent portals can be utilised to connect the school community with parent representatives to promote open communication.
Little Munchkin Digital works with schools to provide interesting and informative resources for parents. We also build customised, secure and safe parent portals to meet your school’s unique needs. Find out more.
Epstein JL, Sanders MG, Sheldon SB 2010. School, Family and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook For Action, 4th edn, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks California.