Meeting the parents

21st September 2001 at 01:00
Margaret Hunt on luring a reluctant breed to the annual meeting

The meeting at which our governing body presented its annual report to parents lasted five minutes last year, with governors and teachers far outnumbering parents.

While it was tempting to interpret the low attendance as a resounding vote of confidence in the governing body, we recognised that we could not be accountable if we did not attract more parents, so a brainstorming session was held to find ways of making this year's meeting more meaningful.

As a result we ensured that the front page of the annual report included an invitation to the meeting and a reply slip for parents to let us know if they would like to attend. We included a comments slip so parents unable to attend could raise issues with us.

Posters were placed around the school to remind parents of the opportunities presented by the meeting, which was timed to follow a concert by the school choir, so parents didn't have to make a special visit. A creche was provided and wine, soft drinks and snacks.

One of my tasks was to borrow glasses and I felt over-optimistic when ordering six dozen. But all the glasses were needed as about 50 parents stayed on for the meeting after the concert. Governors and staff joined parents at tables to discuss the report and seek parents' views on any possible future developments. We then took brief feedback from each table and this stimulated further discussion on school security, car parking, developing writing skills, teacher training and effective transition to secondary school.

So what next? The onus is very firmly on the governing body to ensure that proper consideration is now given to all the comments made at the meeting and to feedback to parents how we might be able to take any of the ideas forward. We hope this will ensure even greater attendance next year when perhaps the governing body should set itself an improvement target of needing eight dozen glasses.

Margaret Hunt is chair of governors at Holbrook primary, Trowbridge, Wiltshire

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