National Assembly of Parents, Carfin, August 2012
The first meeting of the Catholic Education Commission’s new Parental Involvement Working Group took place on Saturday 26th January 2013. While poor weather conditions prevented some members from attending, the group got off to a good start after Chairperson Tony Coultas invited them to share something of their background as parents and members of school Parent Councils.
James McVittie, Chair of the Catholic Education Commission, explained something of the work of the Commission and how it operated on behalf of the Bishops of Scotland through the Scottish Catholic Education Service. He emphasised the strength of the network of partners groups which SCES had been developing to strengthen the position of Catholic education in Scotland. He indicated that the establishment of SCES had brought about a sense of common purpose in Catholic schools across Scotland.
Michael McGrath explained how the remit for the working group (see attchment below) had emerged from the Commission’s Action Plan which included the aim: “To support parents as the first educators of their children”. He stressed that, although the group had a role to respond to various proposed developments, its main role was to be much more proactive than this. Rather, the Commission wished the group to help parents to be confident when speaking about Catholic schools and to encourage them to work in partnership with schools and parishes. The actions which the group would need to take to address these aims would be for the group to decide over the next few meetings, but he encouraged them to aim for the short term and the long term in their work.
Group members recognised the wide range of contexts in which schools operated across Scotland and, thus the range of needs which parents might have. They were encouraged that some initial suggestions had been obtained from an earlier survey of Parent Councils and that these had been endorsed at the first Parent Assembly in Carfin in August 2012. They agreed that there was a need to promote a coherent vision of Catholic education which would help parents to appreciate the full worth of Catholic schools working in partnership with parishes to open the hearts and minds of their children to God.
Some initial thought was given to using technology to improve communications among parents, principally through providing information and advice on pages for parents on the SCES website. It was suggested that the working group, after its initial meetings, could use email and Skype calls to keep in touch as work developed over the next year or so.
Agreed next steps:
- Another meeting at SCES office in early March, hopefully with all members present.
- Some trials to be conducted to check viability of Skype calling.
- Members to think about an advice leaflet for Parent Councils, encouraging them to highlight the Catholic dimension of the school.
- Members to consider ideas for a resource which would help parents to engage children in prayer.