Today our school had a PD day, part of which was focused on “Valuing Safe Communities”.
At one point, this discussion point was raised:
Students and children will attend their school or site more regularly if…
A colleague commented that we have quite a high number of absences due to families regularly taking days off to have extra long weekends and holidays during the school term. It is this a question of them valuing us, as teachers or as a school? Often it isn’t because a child feels unsafe or undervalued that they are constantly going on holiday. I added the point that it is the parents who make the decision and I wondered if we should be asking the parents if they are valuing the school and the effort that educators make?
I was presented with this response by our PD facilitator:
Not one single parent values this school. They only value their children.
He continued to say that parents are only interested in doing what’s best for their children. If there’s something at the school they don’t agree with, they either complain, or switch schools.
It was hard to sit there and hear that ‘NO’ parent in this school values us. I’m not even a parent, let alone a parent with children at our school, although there were at least half a dozen staff sitting in the room who are. Thankfully our school receptionist spoke up and said that she disagreed. To which the facilitator resulted in a resounding “No”. In her position as a receptionist, she receives many phone calls from disgruntled parents requesting a meeting with someone or another, but she also deals with prospective families. She went on to say that so many families have such great respect for our school and they don’t always stay just because of their children. Her comments were met with silence.
I couldn’t help but put my two-cents worth in. I was educated at a Lutheran high school (same denomination as our school) up until Year 11. At the end of each year from Year 7 to Year 11, my parents and I investigated the other schools in the district. They weren’t happy with a lot of things at the school. I was happy to a degree, but also happy to move if I needed. Being a school that was closely associated with a church, my family valued that connection – the focus on the church in conjunction with education. They valued the school and the teachers who helped me. Of course they valued me – I am their daughter. But when you choose a school for your children, surely you have to look at the whole school – the motto, the ethos, the values that underpin a school. Not just the classroom or teacher that your son or daughter will have. Not just the subjects that they will be taught. It’s more than that.
It gutted me to hear that somebody is out their saying that no single parent values our school. It doesn’t make it overly encouraging to get out of bed in the morning and try to make a difference.
Do you feel valued? Do you think families at your school value the school, or just their child?