At the Parent Information Evenings at the beginning of the school year I stated my belief that the best way to raise a child was in furious agreement between home and school. In saying this I hoped to emphasise the power of establishing genuine partnerships between parents and students.
I am reminded of an anecdote surrounding a discussion I had with one of my children’s football coach after his first game of football many years ago. At the conclusion of the game I asked him how he thought my son had gone. He surprised me by reversing the question and asking for my views. He explained, “I was watching 22 players and following the ball, but I’m sure you were watching your son almost the whole time. You saw his every possession, effort and observed his positioning and probably have a much better picture than me.”
What I took from this is the reminder that parents are the primary experts when it comes to raising their children. I believe that many parents can gain an instant appraisal of a child’s mood or energy from an otherwise undetectable slouch of a shoulder from across a room.
Our teachers are indeed experts in the education, wellbeing and personal care of all of their students but their attention is, like my son’s coach, necessarily divided. They are reliant upon positive and proactive communication from the parents to be able to address issues early. Of course, this works the other way as well and there will be times when our teachers are the first to become aware of a concern or opportunity and will then sensitively raise it with parents.
In order to effectively harness two-way communication, we have a number of facilitative structures in place. These include our new model of continuous online reporting, our Parent-Teacher Interviews and our Parent Education evenings.
The School has recognised that to improve on the timeliness of student feedback there is merit in ensuring that we utilise communication technology effectively to ensure that parents have immediate access to information on a child’s academic progress. To this end we have moved from twice annual student reports to a model that allows for parents to log in to the MyKDS portal at any time to obtain comments and descriptors of their student’s progress.
Over the coming weeks King David parents will be invited to participate in the unique speed-dating ritual of Parent-Teacher interviews. This is an opportunity to gain a snapshot of a child’s academic, social and emotional journey, a chance to seek clarification and to agree upon a common approach to ensure that the partnership is working to support the student.
Our Parent Education evenings are an opportunity to ensure that the School can provide access to expertise that encourages a considered and evidence-based approach to pertinent issues that may impact students. Evenings on neuroscience in education, adolescent coping, managing anxiety and drug and alcohol education have all proved successful in promoting conversation and provision of advice that aligns with the approach adopted in school.
Through meaningfully connecting with our families as partners in the joint mission of educating our students we are able to ensure that our key decision making is individualised, informed by those who most understand and supported both in and beyond the classroom.