Learning to listen is so important

By Greg Whitby, 19 June 2019
Greg Whitby AM is Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta.


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

It seems pretty clear to those who work in schools that there has been a change in the way parents are interacting with their child’s teacher/s and their school. Parents today are more interested than ever in their child’s learning which is something I strongly support. Parent engagement in their child’s school experience can have a positive impact on their learning.

At the same time, the increasingly competitive nature of schools, fuelled in part by an over-reliance of standardised testing like NAPLAN and the Higher School Certificate, has led to a high level of comparison that sometimes fails to provide useful insights into opportunities for growth and improvement. In this environment, parent effort to support children’s learning can lead to confrontation and in the worst cases unacceptable behaviour towards teachers either in person or online.

Once upon a time, the weekly school or fortnightly newsletter, two report cards a year and occasional comments in the school diary were the ways that schools communicated with parents. Those days are over. Today, in our connected world, there are many new opportunities to deliver information about student learning progress in real-time. While schools and teachers should adopt new technologies to share this information, teachers themselves cannot and should not be available 24/7.

Schooling is a partnership and partnerships are built on agreed norms. One of the most important of these is the ability for all involved to speak openly and listen generously, and this includes students.

The overwhelming majority of students, teachers and parents are doing the very best they can, often under challenging circumstances. We have an extraordinary opportunity to work together to really make a difference to young people’s learning and lives.

Greg Whitby AM
Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta


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