|When Newsletter 4 was issued, there were 350+ individual schools registered with the Ethos Network.|
Education, like life, is a series of consolidations and fresh ventures, new resolutions. 1997 begins, but the school year is already well advanced. There are no clear cut beginnings and endings. Parenting is the same. With each new phase of the child's life, there are specific new challenges and delights, but there remain the continuing responsibilities to provide fundamental security, love and adequate stimulation.
The nature of the relationships change, however, as the learner grows. There is perpetual debate in human development about whether to focus on the continuities or the discontinuities? Parents and school staff have to keep reviewing. Is 11 pm still a reasonable time to expect the young person home at night?
Should the learner still have the same level of support for planning workload? Does homework still need to be formally checked? The process of evaluation is never complete. Educators constantly balance what is satisfactory and needs to continue with what aspects of expectation and behaviour must change.
At the Network base, you will see we have similar continuities and innovation. We maintain our pattern of seminars being held in different locations throughout Scotland but we have also enjoyed several breaks with the past. We held our first"in-school" seminar in October, when the topic was "Parental Involvement". We were delighted to see one or two parent delegates. More will be better. This Newsletter focuses particularly on parents - although we would still welcome more contributions from parents.
At our November meeting, pupils participated for the first time both as delegates and presenters. We feel sure that now the benefits of pupils, parents, School Board representatives and staff working together at seminars are so clear, this will become an established part of our tradition. The occasion raised new questions about the high media interest and whether the presence of journalists during frank discussion might be inhibiting.
Keep up the good work being done. Move forward with hope and determination.
This was our first 'in-school' seminar and we were thrilled by the welcome. Everyone in the school team contributed, including Kathryn Smith (the headteacher/hostess), the pupil council (who guided/explained), the janitor (readily on hand to help), the secretary (cheerful backup) and the cook (excellent lunch provision) - perhaps above all, the staff and pupils of the school who somehow managed to maintain an air of normality throughout.
Delegate comments included, 'an interesting day in a beautiful setting' and 'I shall certainly be following up in school'.
Cameron Munro, Director of the Scottish Initiative on Attendance and Absence spoke to the group and provided a lot of support materials. He reminded delegates that the recent Audit Unit document 'How good is our school?' suggests that we should ask ourselves 3 questions:
Cameron offered 5 sets of starter questions about parental involvement under the headings of:
For example, under decision-making:
in education is widely recognised as one of the most significant factors in determining
the extent to which children can benefit from learning experiences - even those provided
in school. We talked about some of the pleasures and pitfalls of negotiating appropriate
involvement and ways to encourage interest.
Staff Support and Development
Creating Respect - Reducing Bullying
Lina demonstrated the use of a 'puppet with a problem' to generate discussion.
They exemplified the team approach adopted throughout, with pupils (class time, circle time, P.S.E.), parents (Parent-Tutor Forum Open Evening) and whole staff (from nursery to upper school including dinner and office staff):
The following information is taken from a consultation done on 29th November 1996, based on 61 school entries. Schools provided data via the 1995/96 Database Entry Form sent out to all Ethos Network members.
2. Data collection
3. Data processing
Examples of action in specific schools included:
6. Practical suggestions