The Parents’ College is a welcoming space for all parents and carers where we can listen and learn together; offering support and finding inspiration. It is a mix of information, discussion and practice, with a new topic each week.
In 2014 the Federal Government introduced the requirement for schools to develop a School Improvement Plan (SIP) which was to identify areas of development the school would focus on each year. A whole school meeting, followed by a number of workshops with parents, teachers and Board members, explored possible directions for Sophia Mundi. From this emerged several initiatives. One that struck a chord with a number of parents was the idea of creating an opportunity to nurture the parents in a similar way to how the weekly College of Teachers meetings sustain the teachers. It would provide an opportunity for exploring themes of interest to the parents and to have open conversations that allowed thoughtful sharing and listening to each other. Thus the Parents’ College was born.
To begin with, a group of 3 – 4 parents met beforehand so they could gently guide and navigate the conversation themes, but soon the parents were contributing their ideas and a format developed that has proven to be both highly satisfying and successful. We meet each Thursday from 9 – 10.30am in the Cottage (Aftercare room) and someone (who has volunteered the week before to host the morning) prepares a simple centrepiece, introduces the topic and presenter and keeps time. The week before we agree on a theme or question we would like to discuss. We also decide whether and who might make a presentation to introduce and open up the subject. Then there is good time for discussion and sharing among the group. After we close we can enjoy a cup of tea together.
Over the year and a term we have been meeting we have probably had at least 30 or more parents attend, but it is interesting that it is always around 10 or 12 people who are present on any one day, which is about the capacity of the room. We have few guidelines – themes are decided the week before by agreement, we have a clear start and finish which usually includes a centering exercise that settles us into the room and there are various formats possible for exploring a theme. We respect each others views and what is shared is confidential. We understand that work commitments and other situations may mean a person can only attend for a part of the morning.
We have ranged far with our conversations and it is remarkable to experience the collective wisdom that comes forth and also to get to know the diversity of interests and expertise among the parents. A link to our earlier sessions is on the website via ‘Parents & Friends’. If you haven’t yet experienced this incredibly nourishing group or have been away for a while, do feel welcome to join us when you can.
Former Principal, Director Sophia Mundi