In total 25 parents joined our open AGM on Wednesday 4th October 2023 in the school Aula. We are not sure if it was the enticement of the wine and cheese, but parents were commenting it was the best AGM ever! One parent told us “Lots of fun & laughter with parents, great wine, amazing cheese, informative, brilliant brainstorming session, positive vibes, warm community feeling”. Chris the secretary of the PA committee described it … “A lovely evening. The mix of formality, informality and productive feedback sessions were a great mix to carry our relaxed collaborative culture forward.”
From the PA’s perspective we really appreciated the discussion sessions where parents brainstormed where to focus the PA efforts and what priorities to spend PA money on. We believe parents appreciated the openness and transparency of the evening and understood the challenge the PA has – there is money to spend, but not enough volunteers to execute on all the parent and school expectations and great ideas.
During the AGM we took time to reflect on the following:
Gratitude for volunteers: We have many active members volunteers who give their time and energy to many great initiatives for the school and the PA – we thanked them and put them in the spotlight on this evening – including Vanessa who leads our fruit preparing efforts and Federica who is chairing the brand new canteen committee. We would like to take this opportunity to also thank the tireless volunteer parents of the ESBbus parent group who again this year managed to find seats on the buses from Amsterdam to Bergen for ALL kids who registered from in the catchment area.
Voice of the parents: We talked about the topics we collaborate with the school on.Behind the scenes there are many meetings going on where PAC committee members put forward the opinions and feelings of parents. We meet with the school community or other stakeholders like EMA, ESBbus volunteer group to collaborate on school challenges and opportunities, we participate in the steering committee for the building of the new school. The aim is to put the pupils first and help make the school that little bit better than it already is.
Only 40% families are members of PA: We reflected on the fact that only 40% of families are members and how could we convince them that it is beneficial to their kids . The main benefit that parents receive is that the PA represents them in important decision-making committee meetings – in fact about 30 meetings per year where decisions are being made that impact our kids and their education.
ECA Clubs: We have relaunched the ECA clubs for your kids, Arthur has done a fabulous job securing so many top instructors and creating a top programme. 84 kids are currently reaping the benefit on Wednesday and Friday – reactions from parents are very positive. Some of the clubs have few participants in this first round so they are subsidized with PA funds. We are confident that kids spread the word and more kids will join in the next round. We didn’t get a chance on the 4th to explain the phased approach: We are first introducing the clubs for P4-S7 and then see how to introduce P3 and lower years. Main reasons for this: It is a requirement from school that the very young kids are supervised before and after the club. For this we’d need volunteers, which we don’t have. In addition to this there have been concerns by AllesKits that with the clubs we are taking away their clients. So we agreed on a phased introduction and even worked out a cooperation scheme with AllesKits: They help to cover the time between a club and bus departures. A win-win situation! Watch this space for next trimester clubs and possible introduction of P3 clubs.
More hands make light work: 2 new volunteers came forward during the evening for events team and helping in clubs – thank you!Even if you can only contribute in a small way, this is greatly appreciated. We have a list of all the volunteer opportunities that you can sign up for. Volunteering starts from a few hours of fruit preparing or supervising kids before clubs, to being a class rep, organizing events at school to being an active member or part of the Parents association committee – there is a role for all levels of commitment.
Awareness of school: We have a lovely school that our kids enjoy attending, with great BAC performances, consistent in the years. But we realize that it is a shame it is not known more widely – the magic happens behind the fences and isn’t obvious from the website and communications. School management are working hard to increase the visibility of the school via google – they would appreciate a google review from you.
During the evening we gave PA members the chance to put themselves forward for a role in the PA committee and to revote in the current PAC members – who all stepped down to make way for others. Unfortunately, no one on the night put themselves forward, but they did revote all the current committee members for 1 more year. The positive news is that prior to the AGM 2 parent volunteers showed an interest in joining the committee – Leah Jin and Sharon Petrie – so we hopefully will be back up to a committee of 9 people. We will now look into defining the roles and responsibilities – so we will update you on this shortly.
During the next PAC meeting we will not only be redefining the roles in the committee and who does what but also talking about the parent input from the AGM evening – where should we focus our limited time and money to spend? Most topics where about the well-being of kids (holistic education, new basketball yard, yoga, anti-bullying, early sex education) and improved communications and improved school website for parents to be proud of.
During the AGM we did not have the time to talk about the traffic, so a quick update here: We planned to prepare a petition for parents to sign in which we would ask Bergen Municipality for better safety measures and information. The petition is ready since several weeks. However, submitting a petition on a platform turned out to be more complicated than expected. Meanwhile we were informed that the school has filed an official complaint, and has given mandate to a lawyer. Therefore, we are waiting for the decision on the complaint and we suspended the petition.