Improving conditions while maintaining parent engagement is key

23 April 2024

WACSSO supports the findings of the independent Facing the Facts Report, delivered at the end of 2023, and agrees that the conditions facing many teachers are sub-optimal. WACSSO also agrees that student outcomes will be improved if many of the recommendations outlined in the Facing the Facts Report are achieved. Critical to the WACSSO position is the role of parents in the education context. It is the WACSSO view that parents are partners in their child’s education and the best outcomes are achieved when parents, school staff and children work collaboratively. WACSSO encourages schools and school leaders to continue to run meetings outside of school hours, if these meetings are productive and yield positive community engagement results.

“For the most part, parents want to be actively involved in their child’s education,” says WACSSO President, Pania Turner. “For many parents, this means things like helping their child with homework, navigating friendships and creating opportunities for catchups, and being present at parent-teacher meetings. Many parents also commit to additional volunteer responsibilities such as belonging to their P&C, taking leadership roles on the P&C and/or nominating for the school board. These essential forums, which are designed to ensure that all parties to a child’s education can come together and discuss strategic and operational priorities that will engage the community and deliver much-needed resources for the school, can happen during or after school hours. I anticipate schools have trialled running meetings at various times and have decided to run Board and P&C meetings at times where there is the greatest opportunity for engagement. This should continue. Additionally, it is WACSSO’s strong view that parent engagement activities should not be included when looking at the administrative burden facing teachers. Engagement is a separate, essential task and we have been vocal about this not being bundled in with administrative activity for fear it will be cut,” added Pania. 

WACSSO is the peak advisory body for over 650 P&Cs across WA. In our support for P&C members, which includes school principals, we are often asked to provide advice on relationship building and processes for creating strong school communities. In our advice, we tell our affiliates that engaged parents who are working in partnership with the school yield the best results, not only for their child but for the school community more broadly.

“WACSSO is understanding of the complex, challenging conditions currently facing teachers. We hope that the recommendations from the Finding the Facts Report can be acted on promptly. What we don’t want to see happen, however, is that the work done by many school communities to build strong engaged networks is hampered by logistical issues such as meeting times. Our hope is that the sector can achieve improved conditions without negatively impacting parent engagement,” says Pania.