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From the Principal's Office

Message From The Headmaster - July 2012

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Dear Parents

The start of the 2nd Semester shows significant progress this year and I would like to thank the new SGB for their active support. Lilyfontein's growth and infrastructural development is a tribute to parental involvement and this I acknowledge as the bulk of our parents who share such a constructive philosophy toward life.

Sadly though, the other side of the coin has the potential to have a negative effect on school and consequently needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. The other side takes the form of 'over zealous parental involvement' which unfortunately amounts to interference in the running of school matters! This, however, is a very small portion of our parents, but needs to be addressed as we would like to see an even greater portion of positive involvement in our school in order not to waste what constructive potential we do have in our parent body. Our reasoning here is that if we are all part and parcel of promoting social confidence in our school through a positive word of mouth this spirit will go a long way to securing quality education for the children in our community irrespective of social or political change.

As a school and team of teachers supported by a sound admin staff, I am confident, from an educator's perspective, that we are offering a quality of education and service that is very close to top schools in South Africa. How one defines 'top' is always contentious, however, our Academics show 100% pass rate over the past five years with excellent specific subject results, some of which have been placed first and second in East London District and as high as 3rd in the entire Eastern Cape. This together with our ever improving sporting results ought to be noted by any skeptics or one sided press reports.

Our team of teachers and support staff go well beyond offering the basics of education as required by the Department of Education and offer a highly rated performance according to the IQMS (Integrated Quality Management System) which is the performance management assessment system we apply in our school to ensure quality performance.

I would like at this point to address the concept of parent involvement at school from an educational perspective.

Successful education has always been as a result of the critical balance and objective co-operation (synergy) of the three legs of education; these being the parent, pupil and school. To define this more clearly an Involved parent, a Responsible pupil and an Efficient school. If any one of these legs weaken then the proverbial educational pot becomes unstable.

A point of contention for a parent is always how our children perform at school. As parent we all have in our ideological minds an idea of how we would like our child to be and do or perhaps make up for what we did not do at school (however disguised we manage to keep this issue). And what's more we like to socially confirm this as it makes us feel like a good parent. As young parents (children under 12) we even make comparisons though we are smart enough not to admit that. However, biologically we humans are a mix of the genes that strung us together in the first place and consequently the combinations and resultant personalities are a lottery. The truth is that none of these potential combinations (at this stage of medical science) are ever tested before the union of the product. The raw truth is that sometimes we are fortunate and sometimes we just have bad luck!

Of course the intellectuals and academics (at least until their children turn 14) are always working on ways to raise the brightest child and perfect teenager. We look at the home situation, the school, peers, parents, sport, etc. in searching for this recipe and if it does not work then who or what can we blame? Perhaps somehow this makes us either deny or highlight the functional gene on the one hand or the contrary on the other hand, leaving us wondering which gene is playing which part in our personal dilemmas!

Parenting has no recipe and even psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatricians, educationists, gifted people and teachers do not have this solution for all. However schooling is a must and we are challenged to see our children (with all their bumps, warts and issues) through a system which in itself has many challenges in offering the best possible learning experience for each pupil. All opportunities being equal it is unfair to expect of our children to be what they cannot be.

School is a place where children have to learn to interact with people in the group context as apposed to the home which is a small one on one or three on four where often all talking at the same time is part of the order. The school context requires a structure, order and organization for the prime objective of schooling, which is for learning, to take place. This is usually achieved by rules and regulatory guidelines to ensure that all have a fair chance to learn. Basically this translates into a disciplined environment where self-discipline is learned and a productive ethos is established. Self-disciple is also strongly connected to a positive self image, self-motivation and a co-operative attitude. Research does support the notion that self-disciplined individuals stand a better chance of becoming self-regulated adults who are able to process thinking, reason functionally and most importantly use and develop their own life skills albeit physical, psychological or emotional. This learning process needs to be backed up in the home and social context.

In short parents cannot abdicate their responsibility to the school but have to recognize and deal with the part they play in the directing of their children's lives for their brief period at school. It is this investment that will pay dividends when children leave school. Whether we as adult liked school or not should not cloud or influence our children's perception of school or else we simply endorse a self-fulfilling prophecy of negativity towards school.

A few elements can contribute to this disciplined situation which the parent's style or mode of involvement can ensure positive preparation for school and positive support for the duration of our children's school attendance.

The elements referred to above are numerous but may well include aspects like;

  • Awareness of the legal responsibilities required by SA Education Acts.
  • Appreciation of the SGB's Code of Conduct for pupils (see below)
  • Regular school attendance. Parents' understanding of the legal regulations regarding school attendance and parental involvement at school. (see below).
  • Being open to the reality that not all children have the same physical, emotional and mental capacity.
  • An awareness that it is the team effort of parent, child and school that helps the child reach his/her own capacity.
  • Correct dress and hygiene for school attendance.
  • Punctuality at school and events.
  • A positive attitude to school and teachers particularly in front of the children.
  • A regulated routine for homework and study at home.
  • Understanding of the importance of class discipline in the group context.
  • Understanding that at school the child cannot do just what they want to do!
  • Being prepared by parents at home as to how to talk to adults, teachers and peers and that the big world out there is not always fair.
  • Understanding of respectful behaviour as apposed to self-centred behaviour.

The school's code of conduct is an important element to set a good learning tone in a school. Unfortunately it is often disregarded by parents who are under the impression that they do not have to abide by this code of conduct. However, our school's code of conduct has been put in place and ratified by our SGB in the interests of our children's educational experience.

The schools code of conduct.

The SA School Act 1996 requires that the SGB of a school adopt a code of conduct for the learners, as stated in the Act...Section...1.6...

"The purpose of a code of conduct is to promote positive discipline, self-discipline and exemplary conduct, as learners learn by observation and experience."

And section 6.1 goes further to say...

"The ultimate responsibility for the behaviour of a learner or student rests with their parents or guardians. It is expected that parents will –

support the school, and require learners to observe all school rules and regulations and accept responsibility for any misbehaviour on their part; and

take an active interest in their children's homework and make it possible for the children to complete assigned homework."

Parents responsibilities on school attendance.

The National Education Policy Act of 1996 stipulates in section 18...

"A parent is expected to-

ensure that the learner attends school daily, on time and for the whole day unless there is a valid reason for absence;

ensure that the learner is not taken out of school without valid reason (family holiday is not a valid reason);

inform the principal or class teacher if the learner is absent or expected to be absent or to be late for school with valid reason"

Parents visitation to schools.

The South African Schools Act 84 of 1996; Safety Measures at Public Schools is very clear as to entering or visiting public schools.

Section 8...

Parents have the right to visit the public school where their children have been admitted but such visits may not disrupt any of the school activities.

Parents are required to make an appointment with the principal of the school for a personal appointment with him or her prior to the visit and must state the reason for the visit and the persons who may be involved during the visit.

Parent involvement at Lilyfontein School.

The Principal, SGB and SMT encourage Involvement through the appropriate channels and over the years this has grown Lilyfontein to its current place in the community.

Parents need to trust us educators that we are professionally equipped to do the educational side at school and that our parents support builds and does not undermine the standards we set.

The standards that we set are based on years of knowledge, experience and the understanding of a classroom learning dynamic that supports quality education and consequently underpins activities in class, around school, on the sporting grounds, on outings, camps and tours. As soon as a parent, coach or teacher portrays an idea to their charges/children that the coach, teacher or the school is incompetent, then this sets up a destructive pattern in that learning moment. This destructive pattern is very difficult to turn around, it then serves only to confuse the child and erode the very crux of the personal growth experience we want for the child, which is the development of that functional self-discipline mentioned earlier. We are certainly not perfect so we welcome constructive feedback in the appropriate manner.

If this style of educational philosophy is against your own thinking and views then you are welcome to make an appointment with school or SGB and address your issues in a manner in which all sides are heard and discussed in an adult manner to ensure an objective and constructive way for us all to handle the educational experience and make it even better for our students.

Furthermore, please give some time to discuss the Code of Conduct (below) with your children pointing out the need for rules and appropriate behaviour in the group context. This is to effect safe conditions and fair opportunity for all in the class/group/school.

As the educational representative of the school and considering the current conditions in education, I urge you to become involved in areas where you can make a positive contribution. Involvement for the right reasons certainly creates and ethos at school that encourages constructive energy which is what we need to supplement our growth into the future.

As a parent body we need to guard against the current social fashion of constantly breaking down the professional practice, the values and norms applied in effective schools. "All it takes for evil or wrong to pervade is for good men and women to sit back and do nothing".

Once again thank you to those who always are so positive, give up time and energy and see the sound educational principles we strive to uphold.

Best wishes for a good semester.


I.W. Galbraith

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