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Parental help at schools

By Splendiferous - 14 May 2012 62

Rioters,

What are your thoughts on paying full school fees for your children and then being shamed into taking time off work to help out with normal school activities (reading, maths, etc)?

Both my wife and I work full time to the point where both our children are in before and after school care (7.45am to 5.45pm). For this and the school fees we pay quite a lot.

We have been asked now to take time off work to go to the school to help out with daily activities. This should be for at least once per week around 1 hour at a time (I get paid hourly). As we are almost at the ranges of time for before and after school care we can’t work extra to make up for the time. Not to mention it makes a long day for our kids.

As a newish parent to schooling I wasn’t expecting this request. We help out on the weekends when possible. So is it normal for these requests?

What’s Your opinion?


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62 Responses to
Parental help at schools
Splendiferous 8:24 pm 14 May 12

Boxhead said :

Isn’t the whole point of full-fee education to keep the parents working so they can keep paying the fees? Seems a bit self-defeating for the school to ask the parents to stop working (or put their “loyalty” to their job under question) for even a small amount of time.

Canberrans need to have a complete re-think of full-fee education for their children. Most only do it because everyone else is doing it. Why not stop and put your child in the excellent, free and secular public school system? When “everyone” does this (except the genuinely rich who can actually comfortably afford private schools), there will be no pressure for parents to feel like their kids will be left with the riff-raff in the public school.

I have to say that I am in stunned disbelief when non-Catholic (and even athiest) parents tell me that they prefer the Catholic system over public schools. Is it the feel-good factor of knowing that by paying, you are keeping your kids away from the riff-raff? What are you actually paying for? Seems to me the main purpose of those schools is religious indoctrination, not education in the sense of critical thinking, weighing evidence and discovering the truth.

For the record, we have put our children into a private school because we had trouble getting into public schools that valued education and were in an area close to where we live or work (or are on the route).

Both my wife and I went to public schools and we would be only too happy to revisit them if the opportunity arose.

Watson 7:47 pm 14 May 12

I don’t help out as I just cannot make time during school hours. Unless it is a requirement that they told you about when you enrolled (and I too did read that on some school’s website – either Orana or the O’Connor school?), I would just politely say no.

I come from a country where parents helping out at school is just unheard of.

BerraBoy68 4:42 pm 14 May 12

Are you really being shamed or are you personally feeling bad that you just can’t do this? There is a difference and please note I’m not judging you, I’m just asking the question.

I sit on the Governance Committee at my kids school (a Catholic Primary school) and we certainly don’t try to ‘shame’ anybody into doing more than they want, or are able, to do.

I think that with resources getting more expensive, and less people wanting to become teachers, schools asking parent to help out has become the ‘norm’. Personally, I try to take a day off a term and work in the canteen and also get actively involved in almost all after hours activities (BBQ’s, Movie nights, Xmas party’s Fete’s etc.). It’s a great way to take part in your kids formal education and hey, it’s also great fun!

Either way, I’d suggest that if you could just let the school know that while you might not be able to assist during the school day, you’d be happy to volunteer at any of the out-of-hours activities the school must have.

DJ Mac 3:17 pm 14 May 12

To Boxhead – having tried the ACT public school system – I finally put my son in the local Catholic school after having been called 8 times in one year about him being bashed by another child (3 times he required medical attention) – as the child was only in junior primary there was nothing I could do about him legally – as the mother involved didn’t care – there was nothing the school could do about the little brat either. It was either move him to the Catholic school or spend a fortune on medical bills and counselling for him when he hit his teens – The public schools in Canberra are no longer “excellent, free and secular public school system”, if I felt my boy was safe in the public school system here he would still be there.

I volunteer at both my son’s school and my daughter’s preschool – as I work part time. I have never felt any pressure to do so, there are requests and often options given for the type of help you can give, but it’s never been “expected” and many parent’s don’t.

dtc 2:33 pm 14 May 12

dvaey said :

All these comments criticizing the school, but no-one seems to note that youve got two children, who you probably see for 2 or 3 hours a day (in the brief time between 5:45pm and 8pm when they goto sleep).

Did you have children to have them in your life, or did you have children to be put into childcare for 10hrs a day? Why do you feel it is such an imposition in your life to be asked to spend a bit of time involving yourself in your childs education?

“But surely fully paying my money to my childs school means I shouldnt have to actually commit time to my children as well” is pretty much how I read this post.

wow, I expected someone to pull out the sanctimonious parental criticism card well before comment 9.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 2:13 pm 14 May 12

Boxhead said :

Isn’t the whole point of full-fee education to keep the parents working so they can keep paying the fees? Seems a bit self-defeating for the school to ask the parents to stop working (or put their “loyalty” to their job under question) for even a small amount of time.

Canberrans need to have a complete re-think of full-fee education for their children. Most only do it because everyone else is doing it. Why not stop and put your child in the excellent, free and secular public school system? When “everyone” does this (except the genuinely rich who can actually comfortably afford private schools), there will be no pressure for parents to feel like their kids will be left with the riff-raff in the public school.

I have to say that I am in stunned disbelief when non-Catholic (and even athiest) parents tell me that they prefer the Catholic system over public schools. Is it the feel-good factor of knowing that by paying, you are keeping your kids away from the riff-raff? What are you actually paying for? Seems to me the main purpose of those schools is religious indoctrination, not education in the sense of critical thinking, weighing evidence and discovering the truth.

Staying away from the riff-raff is exactly why many people put their kids into private schools. And until some firmer action can be taken to control the behaviour of said riff-raff, nothing will change.

I went to a high school in a very low socioeconomic area, and some of the bad behaviour had to be seen to be believed. No way would I want my children exposed to that.

If I send my children to private school, I can request that problems involving really bad behaviour can be dealt with. In some cases the perpetrators will be asked to leave the school. I don’t really have this option with public schools, though, as principals seem to have a lot less authority, and there seem to be more things that they ‘can’t do anything about’.

In an ideal world, kids would attend public schools, and the real troublemakers would be dealt with. But that’s not the way things are, and I as a parent will try to find the best option for my children, evenif it is less than ideal on the whole.

dvaey 1:54 pm 14 May 12

All these comments criticizing the school, but no-one seems to note that youve got two children, who you probably see for 2 or 3 hours a day (in the brief time between 5:45pm and 8pm when they goto sleep).

Did you have children to have them in your life, or did you have children to be put into childcare for 10hrs a day? Why do you feel it is such an imposition in your life to be asked to spend a bit of time involving yourself in your childs education?

“But surely fully paying my money to my childs school means I shouldnt have to actually commit time to my children as well” is pretty much how I read this post.

GardeningGirl 1:49 pm 14 May 12

I helped out at the government school we chose, as did quite a few parents who were in a position to do so, but it was never a requirement. I went to a few open days when shopping around for a school and now you mention it I remember one did have some sort of requirement for x hours per week parental contribution. Weren’t you told about the requirement when enrolling?

Boxhead 1:25 pm 14 May 12

Isn’t the whole point of full-fee education to keep the parents working so they can keep paying the fees? Seems a bit self-defeating for the school to ask the parents to stop working (or put their “loyalty” to their job under question) for even a small amount of time.

Canberrans need to have a complete re-think of full-fee education for their children. Most only do it because everyone else is doing it. Why not stop and put your child in the excellent, free and secular public school system? When “everyone” does this (except the genuinely rich who can actually comfortably afford private schools), there will be no pressure for parents to feel like their kids will be left with the riff-raff in the public school.

I have to say that I am in stunned disbelief when non-Catholic (and even athiest) parents tell me that they prefer the Catholic system over public schools. Is it the feel-good factor of knowing that by paying, you are keeping your kids away from the riff-raff? What are you actually paying for? Seems to me the main purpose of those schools is religious indoctrination, not education in the sense of critical thinking, weighing evidence and discovering the truth.

Splendiferous 1:00 pm 14 May 12

Thank you all. I’m glad to see everybody is singing the same song.

There are very constructive comments for this and I’ve taken them all on board.

Once again, thanks.

poetix 12:31 pm 14 May 12

I helped at my daughter’s first school previously, but because I wanted to, and I am lucky enough to work at home with ‘very flexible hours’. But I was very assertive about what I would do. No school should be demanding your help. The payment of fees issue is not the important one to me, it’s that any school, public or private, should expect your help. If you can’t do it, you can’t do it. Tell them.

I must say it seems a bit cheap and nasty, and will result in parents who are resentful kicking around the school, rather than those who want to be there and have a particular skill.

beejay76 12:30 pm 14 May 12

I’ve never heard of parental involvement being the subject of a formal request or shaming. Imagine if every parent did that! 25-odd hours per week of parental instruction? They’re only in school for 30 hours a week, and probably only about 23 of that is classtime! Our school is very big on parental help in the classroom, but a general “we’d love you to get involved, so if you have time speak to your kid’s teacher” type thing is what we normally get.

If you don’t have time, I wouldn’t sweat it. Help out the school/ community where you can. Leave the rest.

Harves 11:28 am 14 May 12

I can say at Miss’s school, they often give parents an option of coming in and joining the class and helping out. We are not made to feel ashamed if we can’t make it.

pelican 11:16 am 14 May 12

Just say no, there is no obligation and if you feel guilty or shamed just explain as you have here that you are paid hourly and cannot afford the time off. If you think it might be worthwhile for your kids to see one of you at school for these activities you have to weigh that up for youself. Feel secure in the choices you make. Nobody can ‘make’ you feel shamed.

I have never heard of this being framed as a request for parents to take time off work specifically, but my kids are older so maybe the fact most families now have two parents working full-time means schools don’t get the extra help they once enjoyed.

Erg0 11:08 am 14 May 12

I’m not a parent, but I work with plenty and have never heard of any of them taking time off for something like this. My suggestion is to treat this as a valuable opportunity to teach your offspring a valuable lesson about resistance to peer pressure.

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