Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta
When I was a student, my parents had what you might call blind trust or acceptance when it came to the work of schools. They never saw it their place to question teachers, they never dreamed of providing feedback to schools and they had complete confidence that we would come home smarter and more disciplined than when we left. This kind of trust wasn’t naive or simplistic. It was a reflection of a different time and different attitudes towards schools.
We live in different times. Today, parents are generally more informed and discriminating when it comes to what they are hoping for from their child’s school. They are more prepared to ask questions about what is happening there. This a good thing. It is particularly important that parents are prepared to be partners with the school when it comes to their child’s learning.
The changing nature of the world means that schools exist in an increasingly competitive marketplace. There are more education choices available. There are also greater demands on schools and greater expectations. Schools in the 21st century are no longer closed shops – they are open, dynamic learning communities.
The best schools are those that are built on trust and partnership, and a common commitment to work with parents so that children thrive. Teachers need to actively engage with parents, and parents have to have faith in their child’s teacher that they are working in the best interests of their students. The days of the closed classroom are over. The Ben Lee song says it best: “We are all in this together”.
I’m not sure what schools will look like in forty years from now. Positive partnerships between school and parents are very important but what matters even more is great teaching and strong, collaborative school leadership. At the same time, without faith in the profession to do the work, and a genuine attempt by governments and school systems to do everything possible to reduce the burden of paperwork for teachers, attempts to transform schools will be futile.
Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta