Parent Voice Group created as part of academy's "Road to Outstanding" plan.
An Adapting PTA
Nunthorpe Academy is an 'Outstanding' 11-19 Academy in the North East of England, and educates around 1,500 students. Karen Deen is Chair of their Parent Voice Group (PVG) which is a Parentkind member association. The PVG has been on a journey so that it now engages parents and gives them a voice in decision-making. "Our PTA was originally named Friends of Nunthorpe School, but it needed to adapt with the changing school and educational environment. We were on a journey called "The Road to Outstanding", as we wanted to achieve an Ofsted 'Outstanding' rating and we were 'Satisfactory' at the time. We looked at getting parents involved to help achieve this. So we created a Parent Voice Group (PVG). We gained our 'Outstanding' rating and had parents positively engaged in academy life."
Representing all Parents
Karen spoke about how the PVG operates. "We want parents to bring up any issues or concerns so we are an appropriate representative voice for all parents. Our PVG parents are so actively engaged that they want to do more than just the fundraising and fun and be involved in decision-making." One of the ways they achieved this was to canvas parental opinion at parents' evenings. "We'd changed the format of the evenings, and we wanted to know what parents actually thought of them. They'd give us the positives and the negatives and we'd discuss them and see if we could suggest tweaks to the format for next year. We reassured parents that they weren't just talking to the PVG, but that their views would be fed back to the academy."
An issue that arose was communication from academy to parent. The PVG took this on board and sought a solution. "We had an information system, but parents weren't happy with it. There were a few basic problems such as not being able to get logged on. The PVG invited one of our Assistant Vice Principals to a meeting who is in charge of communication procedures, and he suggested a new system he wanted parents to trial to see if we could overcome the difficulties they were experiencing. The parents went away happy that the Assistant Vice Principal had come along, spoken to them and addressed their concerns. They loved ‘School Gateway', the new system, and as a consequence the school has since converted to it. The feedback we have received from parents on Facebook and Twitter is phenomenal; they have given positive and negative feedback which has helped shape the running of things in the academy. The parents feel valued by us and we value them; we acknowledge their contributions and suggestions and action them as soon as we can."
"We have a Parent Governor who sits on our PVG group and feeds back to the Governing body. Executive Principal, Lee Brown is very supportive and is keen to keep parents engaged. After every meeting I feed straight back to him and the minutes are circulated at Governors' committee meetings."
A Relationship with the Senior Leadership Team
As well as great communication between PVG and parents, there is also a good working relationship between the PVG and the academy's senior leadership team. The combination is key to ensuring the PVG is a strong and influential voice within the academy.
Policies Impact Parents
Changes to academy policies are also discussed at PVG and the Executive Principal is always happy to come along and speak to us about these. We have a wonderful set of parents and it is a privilege to work with them."
"We want parents to bring up any issues or concerns so we are an appropriate representative voice for all parents. Our PVG parents are so actively engaged that they want to do more than just the fundraising and fun and be involved in decision-making." Laren Deen, chair of Nunthorpe Academy's Parent Voice Group.