My daughter’s moving on to Middle School in September, which means my time as a Parent Governor at Ardeley is at an end.
In common with most of you, the end of the school year isn’t just a marathon of year-end events like sports days, school plays, Leavers Services and discos, it’s also a time to look back over the year – or in my family’s case, the 5 years my daughter’s spent at Ardeley and the 4 years I’ve been a Governor.
As I said in my final Full Governors Meeting the other night, I only wish the parents and children knew how deeply the Governors care about the school and its pupils. All Governors enjoy their roles but at the same time we take our responsibilities very seriously and the children are always our first priority (very closely followed by the parents!).
Schools don’t run themselves, decisions don’t take themselves, money doesn’t raise itself, funds don’t allocate themselves. Ardeley is a small school and the burden falls on fewer shoulders. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to have played some small part in the school’s continued success.
I hope there are plenty of takers for the newly vacant Parent Governors position (without it getting too competitive or awkward). As a father working full-time in London, my visits to the school during the week are few and far between, but being a Governor helped me feel a real connection to the school community and relate better to what my daughter was doing at school, feeling we had much more in common than if I wasn’t a Governor.
If Ardeley is the only school you’ve sent your child to, it’s quite possible you’ll be unaware of just how special it is compared with other primary schools. What an idyllic location – behind the church, next to the farm, the woods on our doorstep and lunch in the thatched village hall next to the green. It’s Midsomer Murders country but thankfully without the murders – just the odd graze from time to time.
Our class sizes that are often smaller than ones you’d see at expensive private schools, which means the children get much more attention and more opportunities for one-to-one teaching. The flipside is that smaller schools get less funding from the Government, which is why the fundraising by the Governors and the FAS (Friends of Ardeley School) is so vital to preserving and enhancing the ‘Ardeley experience’.
It’s not just about money, it’s about time. As parents, we’d all like to think we do our best for our children. In a school context, the basics are getting them to school on time, driving sensibly down School Lane and ensuring homework’s done on time. But there’s an opportunity to really do your children proud by getting stuck into school life and joining in with them.
Ardeley is a comparatively small community that relies on families to get involved to help give the children the best start in life we can. Chances are, if you’re not helping in some way already, you’re in the minority.
The next time a parent serves you a drink at the interval or helps your child out of the car at drop-off, or organises a football match, Film Friday or the photos from the school play, don’t assume it all takes care of itself.
I would urge you to get involved and contribute in some small way – you will get so much more back than you put in – as will your child. A small school like Ardeley gives everyone a chance to make a difference. And as many parents don’t realise, it’s as much their school as it is their child’s.
Help with reading, school drop-off, refreshments, Fun Day or whatever. It needn’t be a big commitment but if you can seize the chance to make Ardeley an even better place for your child to begin their learning, why not give it a go?