by Catherine Delahunty
This Inquiry needs to hear from as many parents, students and teachers as possible. We need to hear about the excellent initiatives that already exist to build relationships between parents, schools and students. One such initiative is the three way conferences between teacher, parents and student held in many schools early in the term each year.These conferences allow all parties to discuss learning goals and issues at the beginning of the year.
We also needs to hear from parents, students and teachers about the deeper challenges faced in education. This was reinforced to me by a parent I met at a public education forum who pointed out to me that her children were struggling at school because she and her husband had several part-time jobs each to pay the rent and that she was never home at the right time to help with homework. She said if the minimum wage was lifted she could work less and support her children better in their education. We need to hear from parents with students with special needs who cannot get sufficient support for their children to experience inclusive education. We need to hear from families who have struggled to walk through the school gates because of their previous culturally hostile reception and how and whether this has actually changed.
We want to hear about best practice formed everyone’s point of view including the students and the tricky issues for a really good relationship. This Inquiry is not just about individual schools who have best practice in this field it’s also about what parental engagement means in our current highly unequal society. When teachers have to keep extra food and clothing in the classroom for hungry and cold children and charities have to provide breakfast we know parents are struggling. We need to hear great ideas to address this, some of which could be about political change and the need for equity as a goal in education. The Inquiry needs to hear a broad range of voices. Here is a link to the terms of reference and the November 7 deadline for submissions.