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High hopes for 2018 school year

1 February 2018

Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta

For most parents, the practical side of schooling begins very early in January with the back- to-school sales. This is the time when conversations about schooling are dominated by the ‘traditional’ requirements we tend to associate with quality schooling. Things such as new school bags, shoes, uniforms, lunchboxes, books and even laptops. While these may be viewed as important, when you ask parents what they want from schools, these surprisingly do not rate highly.

It’s a given that we want all students to end the school year having gained more knowledge, greater skills and academic, sporting or personal success. These have always been the expected outcomes. However, the reality is that, for most parents, knowing that their children are happy, supported and challenged in good ways matters most. They want them to make good friends who help deal with the highs and lows of school and life. They want them to thrive. Parents also want schools to create a strong sense of community so that every child, no matter where they come from or who they, are feel welcomed and valued.

Strong links are the bedrock of a good school community. As you send your children off to school this first week of term, I ask that you remember that you are first and foremost the primary educators of your children. The values you demonstrate are the values they learn. The attitudes you have towards overcoming difficult tasks and challenges, working with others and  accomplishing goals are the attitudes they are most likely to adopt for themselves.

Parents are supported in this role by schools, and the best outcomes happen when home and school work in partnership. My experience as a parent and someone involved in education for the past four decades is that the best way you can support your child’s education is to remain interested and involved in what they are learning.

Not every day at school will be great, but if as parents you can engage with your children and support them by modelling healthy values and attitudes towards life and learning, it will be of more value to them in the long run than ensuring their books have been covered and labelled.

Greg Whitby

Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta

 

Greg Whitby is the Executive Director of Schools - Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta
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