Thursday, March 21, 2013

Making a change

"Someone should do something about that" said my hairdresser.

"The council never comes out to look after this area" said the lady in the shoe shop

"Our school isn't very good at fundraising" said I.

In day to day life you always hear about how those other people should get their act together and fix things up, do something, make stuff better, organise a change.

The primary school Popps attends is a lovely school, but when I talk with other friends and family about the fees they pay, the fundraising they do, the functions they hold for the schools benefit, I know that our school is losing out. We have a very small voluntary fee per family, only a third of parents have paid it this year, it isn't that they can't afford to pay the amount it is just the mind set. The belief that they shouldn't have to.

We all know that if you get people organised, get them encouraged, get them working towards a goal, however small, then you can achieve things. You can make changes. Change might be slow, but it will occur. To change the mind of people to make them see that investing in education, investing in children, investing in your local community is a very wise choice. It's not just financial investment that is required, it's gardeners and fence builders, canteen helpers and people contacting library books. People turning sausages or donating easter eggs.

This can not be done by sitting home watching Packed To The Rafters and eating chocolate on the couch.

I know this because I have tried that for the last year. No matter how many times I read the weekly newsletter, change has not been made.

On Monday night I will be busy attending my first Parents and Friends school meeting. I don't really know what to expect or how much I can add, but I know I don't want to be one of those people who waits for everyone else to do things.

Are you on the P&F or the school council, the canteen roster or the fundraising committee? Any tips?




18 comments:

  1. That's the spirit Claire! I have a saying, "If it has to be, it's up to me". I know it's not exactly my very own words, but I don't like it when someone says 'somebody' else should do something about it. Why not them? Why not me? Of course there is a limit to this sort of comradeship. So finding the fine line is also a good thing to know, otherwise people like us do everything while others do nothing.

    All the best with your meeting. Should be fun! x

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    1. Yes Kymmie! The hairdresser was talking about how 'someone' should get the trees watered across the road from her, it would be so nice for them to survive. All I could think was "Lady, you use up a gazillion litres of water a day in here, maybe throw a few buckets on the trees once a day and they will thrive". But of course I sat quietly and nodded - can't risk upsetting the hairdresser early on.

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  2. Lots of listening before acting. Transparency - in what you do and what you expect from others. I agree with your sentiments though - we all need to be willing to be psrt of the change. AND one or two big things that make lots of money are much better than 50 things that make little dollars.

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    1. Yep, I think we will be smallish things to start with - but I really want to get rid of the chocolate drive before Popps leaves the school - I have 6 years!

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  3. Replace the chocolate drive with herbs and bulbs. Not too much to organise, and a good message to kids. Kiddie cutters also do fundraising for groups and for those families using Aussie farmers, they'll donate 2% of people's order to the school. We're heavily involved in the Australian Multiple Birth Association and fundraising is so key. Well done for getting involved, it's well worthwhile.

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    1. I love the herbs and bulb idea and the Aussie Farmers one - Shall be attending armed with ideas, thank you!

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  4. I was a committee member of my child's daycare for about 10 months (doing the listening before acting thing!) before taking on active roles in fundraising and as the secretary. I love being able to have a say in how the daycare is operated and will probably continue an active role on school committees in years to come. I think it's important and even though my time is stretched with other commitments, I want to make the time as I feel I don't have a place to grumble about how things are done if I don't do it in the right forum. Someone has to do it so I am happy to put my hand up. Fundraising activities - the things that take minimal effort with maximum $ always work brilliantly :) Good luck and hope you have fun :)

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    1. Thanks Rosie - um, any suggestions on exactly which activities they might be...

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  5. I've done it at Poss' school since Prep in some capacity or another. It can be frustrating, it can be slow, it can be a huge time suck, but overall, it's been a super positive experience and I wouldn't change it for anything. We have met some wonderful people and I have friends from all different year levels now, instead of just our class. Good on you Claire!

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    1. I may have to do a live twitter chat of a P and F meeting!

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  6. Good for you Claire! I'm sure you will be accepted and your ideas welcomed. Sometimes it takes a fresh, enthusiastic face to get things rolling. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks Jodi, I will certainly start off enthusiastic...hopefully I don't fall at the first knock back.

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  7. But it's also WAY too hard when you're a "do-er" and everyone just takes advantage of the fact that you are. They actually come up to me in the playground and ask how their kids' reading is going in the classroom. Lady, if you wanna know, come and do the reading yourself?! Or "Bron, why don't they do something about the trees by the footpath"? Lady, I am not "they"! I swear I'm not... or maybe I am? x

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    1. Well of course Bron, because we all know, "If you want something done, ask a busy person" is one of the most accurate sayings to ever exist.

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  8. My mum was on every committee possibly, school we call it P&c here a and brownies and I think it just went without saying that I would do the same, plus I am a social worker, we can't help but be involved.

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    1. Pretty sure my parents created groups when there were none, always out gathering the masses to get things organised - may be this is why I have done the opposite and until now, barely joined a thing.

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  9. I was floored when I heard that only a third of families pay the voluntary contribution. It makes me realise how lucky my kids are. At our school, I reckon that figure is more like 99% and our school has been able to purchase some amazing stuff and to pay for specialist teachers in Japanese, science and music.

    In addition to that, we have one annual fundraiser and there is so much support for it. It's a gala night with auctions etc. Every year they raise lots of money. Last year it raised about $70 000.

    It really is a mindset. I have not met one parent in the school who thinks the voluntary fee isn't worth it. I think it's because generations of parents have dug deep year after year and we have such an amazing public school to thank them for. We only think it's fair that we continue to do so for the long term good of our school.

    I hope you can be that squeaky wheel in the P & C. I think you can definitely make a difference.

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    1. Yep, and this is the FIRST year ever that the fee has been introduced, so until now we have been a totally free school. Well, in recent years anyway. I really think that when the school opened 60 years ago the local parents would have invested in it heavily. 70K a year in funds to our school would be like a gazillion dollars. It is already a really great school, imagine the potential with such funds! And, this is what I keep hearing from other friends and family. If the other schools can do it, then there is no reason why our school can't too. Time for me to get very squeaky.

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