|Parents Forum - June 2008|
ST THOMAS AQUINAS CATHOLIC SCHOOL
Joanie Barber (Chair), Gerald Joy (Vice Chair), Lesley Brennan, Una Butler,
Catherine Cadogan, Ellen Dawes, Ann Marie Field, Jim Foley, Anne Gannon, Tracy
Hancock, Kate Iredia, Christine Kearns, Lawrence Kearns, Alma Kirsz, Maria
Melville, Friederike Pritty, Caroline Skerrett
Judith Berrington (Minutetaker), Liz James (Head of Year 7), Nuala Jones (Deputy
Headteacher), Sarah Lay (Head of Year 8)
1. PrayerElizabeth Horton, Bernie Laverty, Debbie McGovern.
JBA welcomed members and began the meeting with a prayer.
2. Preparation for next presentation
JFO said that at the next induction evening we could provide parents with more detail
about the transition from primary to secondary school. He suggested the presentation
could be in three parts and that members need to decide exactly what those parts
should be. It would be good to have input from pupils, parents and also hear from
staff. JFO then introduced Mrs Liz James (Head of Year 7), Miss Sarah Lay (Head of
Year 8) and Mrs Nuala Jones (Deputy Headteacher) to the Forum and asked for
suggestions/ideas from members. Nuala Hickey (School Nurse) was mentioned at the
last meeting and could be available for the presentation on 30 June if required.
each tutor group next week at Induction Evening.
already the first Wednesday in July in addition they have an induction day so this
is the child's opportunity to ask questions.
eczema who should they tell. Also include music lessons, after school activities.
How to contact the school - reassurance, ok to contact the school at any time.
Discussion continued regarding the panel and how the evening would be structured.
It was agreed that the panel would consist of parents, pupils and staff. NJO to chair,
SLA, EJA and NHI to be panel members. A representative from special needs was
suggested but members agreed that the school does regular visits so no need to have a
specific representative on the panel.
histories from parents and then stories from pupils.
and worries and how they found secondary school in September. EJA said that a
Teaching Assistant spends the first week with a new Year 7 class, helping with
registration and travelling from class to class with them. Members agreed this sort
of information would be very reassuring to parents.
hands confirmed links to 5 of schools.
member could be on each table. Show of hands to confirm number of members
available for 30 June. There were 11 volunteers in total.
have the opportunity for group discussion. Perhaps the member (facilitator) could
ask the question if other parents did not want to.
them questions. SLA said that some questions might need to be fielded but that
some pupils are quite confident and should be fine. Staff could always jump in to
help if a pupil was struggling.
and didn't know anyone but who now has lots of friends. Another who had
problems initially and how they overcame them. Issues to address might be
getting lost, being split up from their friends, having no friends and perhaps
include a child who is new to this county. The child's parents could be invited as
JBA said we hope to get new members in September. We had five new members
following the last intake.
Summary from JBA
Children to answer questions and to be available to circulate. Staff to answer
questions. Announce details at the Induction Evening and take names of interested
parents. Children first, break into discussion at tables then collate questions for staff
panel. Facilitators could ask questions if parents don't feel able to. Case histories
from parents will come out in the evening or could be part of the second part of the
presentation. Following next week able to plan numbers and see how many pupils
might be needed.
JFO then invited Maria Melville to speak to members about her work for Big Foot
Arts Education. Mrs Melville said they work with both primary and secondary
children and are currently working in conjunction with Hollie Parrish our Border
Busters Coordinator. Every school will have a transition workshop and Mrs Melville
briefly described the contents of the workshop and the interaction with the children.
Each workshop lasts for two hours but she could reduce this to twenty or thirty
minutes depending on what was required and could start the presentation with a taster
of the workshop. Mrs Melville could do her presentation after the pupils section. It
was also confirmed that only four of our feeder primary schools are in the cluster.
Discussion regarding format - presentation from children, Mrs Melville could present
her workshop and then time there would be the opportunity for questions.
JFO said it could be useful to include the workshop as part of the Induction Day
which is on 2 July. Mrs Melville said she would check her availability and added that
many Year 5 and Year 6 children had been involved in the Workshops already.
JBA gave a final summary of the format for the presentation and all members were
happy with it. JBA thanked EJA, SLA and NJO for attending the meeting.
3. Minutes from the last meeting
JBA gave a brief overview of the previous minutes. The minutes were agreed as a
Points raised from the minutes:
a) Eportal Access
Mrs Cadogen missed the last meeting and would like to apply for access. JFO said
anyone who wanted to do so could leave their name with JBE after the meeting.
4. Feedback from parent members questionnaire
GJO said he had received 11 electronic copies and 1 hard copy of the completed
questionnaires. However, because of the numbers completed this was not a basis to
make major decisions about the future of the Forum. GJO apologised for not
releasing the details earlier to members. He waited to see if any more responses were
submitted. He suggested that members look at the questionnaire over the summer and
then come back with clear thoughts about the way forward at the next meeting in
GJO highlighted the following points for members to reflect on:
1c. The spiritual life of the school - This has not really been addressed but GJO said
he is not entirely sure of the objective here and if it is appropriate to the Forum.
2. Terms of Reference - The possibility of having meetings where just parents are
present. Perhaps people feel intimidated when staff are here. One member said that
without staff the meetings could just turn into a chat session but another commented
on the fact that parents don't get the opportunity to meet and interact in any other
way. The Forum is a good place to meet, raise concerns and discuss common issues.
GJO said there is a slight tension, some members want less formal meetings, some
want to have terms of reference. The Forum needs to think about what it wants. One
member said that care should be taken not to fall into the committee format, although
it was agreed that the meetings do need structure.
One response indicated that too much time was given to planning presentations but
GJO said he found tonight's session very useful. There is tension again though and a
balance needs to be found.
4. Membership - The older age group of pupils is not well represented. There is also
an absence of fathers. It is difficult to get men involved. Both parents usually attend
the Induction Evening and Parents' Evenings so these events might be good
opportunities to attract men to join the Forum.
Mrs Iredia queried section 4d which was not clear. GJO said the Forum wanted to get
a cross section of parents who had children in different year groups.
5. Improving membership - We need suggestions of ways in which membership can
6 - 9 generally good responses. Members wanted more input into the Agenda. GJO
said perhaps it could be emailed to members a week before for any
Discussion then followed regarding the role of JFO and his presence at meetings. If
staff were not present one of the members would have to take the minutes. If that
happened though the member would not be able to join in with the meeting. It was
JFO's idea to initially start the Parents Forum. He said he wanted to establish a group
to focus on children's progress and educational issues. STACS has a very strong
spiritual life, it has FOSTAS for social events but the school was not hearing from the
parents at whole school level. JFO said he is relaxed about his attendance at the
meetings. He is delighted with the group and also the turnout for the presentations.
Members felt it was good to have JFO's presence at meetings. It is a link between
parents and school and it is great to have someone to answer any questions raised.
Presentations. People are generally happy but there were a few suggestions. The
Forum needs to follow up on issues raised for example following the Gifted and
Talented evening. There needs to be a process and we need to show that there has
been some output. GJO said he had tried to get feedback from those parents who
came to the Forum but had then left. He only received one response though which
was not very enlightening. Members agreed not to chase those people who had
Discussion continued regarding numbers, if membership got too big it might not be so
manageable. Continuity is needed and the Forum needs to have a good cross section
One member said that the meetings were quite business like and formal and could
come across as quite scary, especially for people who only attend one meeting.
People really need to attend several meetings to become more involved.
GJO reiterated his request for members to look at the questionnaire over the summer
and that those members who had not filled in the questionnaire could still do so. JFO
suggested putting the questionnaire feedback onto the website.
5. Any Other Business
Responsibilities for Induction Evening
A general flyer will go into the uniform bags and JFO could also mention the Forum.
It was agreed that members did not need to attend.
Mrs Cadogen (in her role as parent governor) asked for people's thoughts about the
new system. Mrs Iredia thought it was a wonderful idea and was very pleased the
school were introducing it. JFO said that there will be a limit of approximately Â£4.00
per day for each child but if parents wanted to pay for a longer period in advance they
can send a cheque to the school via the Main Office and their child's account will be
credited. He said that the system had been tried and tested and that STACS were not
the first to trial it. Everyone thought it was a great idea.
Date and time of next meeting:
Monday 30 June at 7.00 pm in the Main Hall - presentation
MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON
9 JUNE 2008