We had a much smaller than usual turn out to our community meeting last Wednesday. But we have found out that it did clash with some significant events such as sporting prize-givings, which, of course, are very important to attend. Thinking about it, the third term community evening has traditionally had the smallest attendance. Perhaps it is the impact of winter, but perhaps also everything starts to ramp up at this time of year as we hurtle towards the end of the year. So many people spoke of how scattered their thinking is at the moment and of how hard it is to keep track of everything in their lives and of the struggle to keep up with all the demands. I am with them on that, so I don’t know what the solution is.
However, the upside to the small turnout at the community evening was an opportunity to have some more intimate, educationally deeper conversations. It was great to hear people’s perspectives. I began a process of reviewing and refining what is educationally important at Amesbury School. I asked people to identify the 3 – 5 most desired outcomes for their children as a result of their year 1 – 6 schooling at Amesbury School. The results were varied and interesting. However, I am not going to share those yet, because I would like to continue to ask that question of you all and build up the picture with many more views. I will email out a very simple 3-minute survey. I would ask that each one of you fill it out to help us gauge what is most important to our school community.
What was interesting, though, was the reluctance of some parents to load the school with more than its fair share of roles and responsibilities. Several parents asked the question of whether it should be the role of schools to deal with social issues or focus on mental health or to help students develop moral purpose or a social justice mindset. I certainly agree that schools cannot be charged with solving every ill of society or taking full responsibility for developing fully functioning young adults. And we certainly appreciate the concern some parents felt about schools being lumped with too much responsibility. However, the reality is that “whole” children come to school every day. They are social, physical, intellectual, emotional, moral, cultural and spiritual human beings all the time, and, we, at school, can NOT only deal with them as intellectual beings. This would be to deny the full humanity of our students. As schools, we do need to nurture all dimensions of what it means to be fully human – we need to see to the needs of the whole child and to assist their growth in every dimension not necessarily through what we formally teach and assess, but through the relationships we develop with them, the ways we deal with their problems, the school and hub cultures we develop, the things we inquire into, care about and value together and what we model as teachers. Of course, there is no way we can or would do this alone. It needs to be a partnership between home and school and the more agreement we have about what is important and the more closely aligned school and home are, the more well rounded and confident young people our children will become. This is why consultation is so important. So that we come to agreement about what is of the most importance.
Oh and congratulations to Sue Faure who identified the alliteration in The Community Consultation Caper. Thanks to everyone at the community evening for being good sports and joining in the community singing. I wonder if schools that sing together stay together….