From: Debra Crouch <[email protected]> Date: 5 May 2012 17:28 Subject: Please inform parents of school-age students: Parents Victoria Online Conference 20-26 May 2012 To: [email protected] Parents Victoria Online Conference 2012 6am Sunday 20 May to midnight Saturday 26 May (Australian time) * Principals, headmasters and teachers are invited to inform parents of this no-cost opportunity for discussion and debate, with prizes for participation. Daily conference topics are provided at the end of this email. PARENTS (and grandparents) of primary and secondary students, in all states, territories and countries, are warmly invited to take part in this year’s online conference, to be held later this month by Parents Victoria, in Australia. The conference will be held non-stop on the internet from 6am Sunday 20 May to midnight Saturday 26 May. No special software is needed, other than an internet-connected computer and a browser (speakers are an advantage but are optional). The online discussions will be very easy to join in, online resources will be provided, and guidelines about how to participate will be available. *You don’t need to be a member of Parents Victoria to take part. Join in for all days, just some days, or even a few hours, depending on your lifestyle and other commitments. Topics & program The exact timings of the hosted sessions within the (non-stop) conference program will be emailed to registrants shortly before the conference begins. Details on the topics and days of the draft conference program can be found at the end of this email. Register online at no cost The Parents Victoria Online Conference 2012 website will open at exactly 6am on Sunday 20 May at: http://www.cybertext.net.au/pv/ *Please note: The ‘placeholder page’ that is currently visible at this website address will automatically redirect to the live conference homepage, at precisely 6am on Sunday 20 May. Please register yourself online, at the above website address, before you participate in the online conference. The conference will feature six ‘live’ daily online discussions, each of them hosted, for several hours each day, by a member of Parents Victoria or expert commentators from a number of different associations. Each 24-hour period will focus on a different topic that is currently of concern to parents. The seventh day will provide an extra opportunity to have your say on all of the topics discussed earlier in the week. There will also be one continuous online discussion that will last all week. Prizes for participation iPad – The Parents Victoria member school with the greatest number of individual participants over the entire conference. Flip camera - The school with the most individual participants who comment on the week long question. Flip camera - The school with the most individual participants who comment on the Celebrating Public Education topic on Sunday 20th May. Registration for two people to attend the Parents Victoria annual conference in August 2012 The Victorian government school with the greatest number of individuals who participate on multiple days of the conference. Complimentary one-year membership to Parents Victoria - The non-member Victorian government school with the greatest number of individual participants over the entire conference. *To be eligible, participants must be correctly registered and leave at least one comment on the discussion boards. Schools are only eligible to win one prize. In the event that a school wins more than one category, the prize in subsequent categories will go to the school with the next highest number of eligible participants. Member schools are defined as schools whose 2012 membership payment was received by 18 May 2012. I look forward to meeting all of you online soon, to discuss these important issues. The more of you join in, the more successful this e-vent will be. Best wishes, Debra Crouch Online Conference Manager Email: [email protected] Topics & program for Parents Victoria Online Conference 2012 We have provided some questions to get the discussion going but please feel free to raise other issues relevant to these topics. You can address as many, or as few, of the questions as you like. MAJOR WEEK-LONG TOPIC School payments/school funding 1. What should families be expected to pay for in government schools (and not pay for)? Share examples of the types and amounts of payments you have been asked for. 2. Do you have any good tips for families to reduce the cost of schooling? 3. The release of the Gonski review has the potential for big changes in how governments fund education. What changes do you think Federal and State governments should make to education spending? In your opinion, which areas are under-funded? EXTRA WEEK-LONG GENERAL THREAD Other issues. The topics on Day 1 to Day 6 cover a range of specific issues. This extra message board provides an opportunity for you to raise other education issues you believe are also important. If you choose to start a new thread, please add an appropriate subject heading so other participants can follow the discussion. DAY 1: SUNDAY 20 MAY Celebrating public education 1. Share the great things that are happening at your child’s school. 2. If you were promoting your child’s government school, name three features that you would especially stress to prospective parents? 3. How does your child’s school provide an excellent learning environment for your child? Please give us some specific details. 4. Why did you choose to send your child to a government school? DAY 2: MONDAY 21 MAY Travel to school 1. How does your child travel to school? Do you have any concerns? (for example, his or her level of independence; personal safety if walking or riding)? 2. How can schools, families and the wider community support more children walking and riding to school? 3. How reliable and frequent are bus and/or train services to your child’s school? Does your child complain of over-crowding and/or cancelled services? 4. If your child walks or rides to school, does the local community offer extra safety measures such as Safety Houses, the Walking School Bus program, well maintained bike trails, and so on? What else could be done to support children who travel to school independently? 5. What can be done to improve the safety of children at school drop off and pick up? 6. Should seatbelts be compulsory on school buses? Why or why not? *Please note: Issues relating to public transport are not a VicRoads responsibility. DAY 3: TUESDAY 22 MAY Multiculturalism 1. What more could be done to help migrant or refugee parents feel more welcome at 2. 3. 4. 5. your child’s school? How does your school encourage parents from different cultures - even those who have been living in Australia for some time - to join in school activities, e.g. the parent club, school council as helpers in the classroom, and so on? What do parents from different countries and cultures have to offer parent groups in Victorian schools, as well as student learning? Is there something particularly innovative that your child’s school has done to encourage parents from non-mainstream cultural groups to join in the life of the school? How can we work towards creating an inclusive school community in which all families can feel they belong? DAY 4: WEDNESDAY 23 MAY Curriculum 1. Languages (LOTE) In 2011, the Baillieu Government announced that it would revolutionise language education in Victoria by creating one of the world’s most diverse and effective Language programs (formerly known as LOTE). The Government will introduce compulsory languages classes in every primary school, starting with prep and extending to year 10 by 2025. What are your views on this decision? What do you see as the benefits or the problems with this program? 2. Testing & NAPLAN. What do you see as the benefits of national testing? 3. National Curriculum. What do you know about the National Curriculum? Do you think it is needed? Have there been any changes at your school? 4. General. What changes would you like to see in the existing curriculum at your child’s school? Special Religious Instruction. 1. What are your views about the inclusion of SRI, and the fact that it is taught by voluntary teachers, in class time? DAY 5: THURSDAY 24 MAY Managing bullying 1. How does your school manage bullying? Is your school recording incidents and 2. 3. 4. 5. collecting data that will help it improve its response to bullying? Is the current response effective? How could schools better support parents when their child is involved (either as a victim or an offender)? What are the most effective strategies we can give our children to help them to stand up to bullies? How can parents (as individuals or in parent clubs or school councils) better support schools in improving their management of bullying? What are some practical ways that families and schools can work together in partnership to reduce (or even eliminate) bullying? *Note. Names and contextual details that identify specific people and incidents should not be mentioned on the message board. Parents who wish to discuss problematic situations with Parents Victoria should email [email protected] with a return phone number or email address. DAY 6: FRIDAY 25 MAY Mental health 1. An alarming number of children (and/or their family members) suffer from mental health issues. This has an impact on a child’s schooling (not to mention his or her family) when the school needs to communicate with the family and/or the family needs to communicate with the school. What do you consider to be the role of the school in these situations? 2. What level of help would you expect your school to provide to children and/or families with mental health issues? What is too little and what is too much? 3. Is privacy legislation a barrier to schools when they seek to assist children and/or families with mental health issues? 4. Could schools be better supported by other government agencies in their assistance for children/families with mental health issues? 5. In the case of mental health issues that interfere with a child’s learning or school safety, (without using people’s actual names) who is the most appropriate person at the school to speak to, or seek support from: the child’s class or subject teacher, the principal or vice principal, the pastoral care officer, the student welfare officer, the year level coordinator, the school nurse? If your school has a good system that works, tell us about it. *Names and contextual details that identify specific people and incidents should not be used. Parents who wish to discuss problematic situations with Parents Victoria should email [email protected] with a return phone number or email address. DAY 7: SATURDAY 26 MAY Second chance to discuss all topics. Day 7 provides a second chance to ‘have your say’ on all topics, from Day 1 through to Day 6. * Debra J. Crouch, from Straight to the point PUBLICATIONS & COMMUNICATION provides overall project management, design and creative management, and editorial management for annual online conferences held by Parents Victoria.