It takes a lot of hard work, people and processes to make a school a healthy and stable environment for learning. There are some amazing teachers and administrators who shape the schools ability to educate, but what makes that school even more special is when it belongs to the local community, where individuals and families are involved.
By volunteering, you can bring a great deal to the school, with your energy, ambition, time, ideas and resources. Spending time in schools is very rewarding, you can learn from the children you are investing your time in and you don’t always have to be a parent to volunteer. It could be a school that you attended as a teenager or a school you would simply like to give back to.
Here are some ways to get involved in helping your local school:
Some schools need help to assist teachers on a regular basis, usually in primary schools. For example: listening to children reading. Classroom helpers are often, but not always, parents of children at the school and are not the same as classroom assistants, who are paid staff.
You do need to commit weekly time slots to the school, which can vary from half an hour a day to half a day each week. Most schools prefer not to put you in your child’s class, as it could be unfair to classmates whose parents can’t volunteer.
Classroom helpers can make a positive difference to improving school standards. Even if you are not helping out in your child’s class, the experience makes you more familiar and involved with your child’s study.
If you’re interested in volunteering, talk to your child’s teacher or the head teacher at their school.
Start a clean-up crew
If empty cans and sweet wrappers are a constant unwanted feature at your local school, you could always organise a ‘School Clean-up Day’.
Arrange it for a weekend, with help from parents, students, teachers, and volunteers from the local community. All schools have recycling facilities and the clean-up day could help educate pupils on the importance of waste separation. If there are areas of the school that could do with a new lick of paint, you could arrange with the school caretaker to have volunteers carry out the work.
Ealing Council has teamed up with Green Redeem to deliver a recycling rewards scheme, providing residents with points for recycling and other ‘green’ activities. As part of the scheme local community projects and schools can receive funding by residents donating their own points to your cause. Find out how you can take part by emailing: email@example.com
To organise a clean-up, talk to the schools head teacher or PTA.
Assist on School Visits/Trips
Kids look forward to school trips as they are a well-deserved break from the normal school schedule. Taking kids out of school can be extra work, which is why teachers can always do with some help.
With younger children, the emphasis is on walking the group from place to place, and keeping track of a group of kids who you have just met that morning. You may need to help them with their coats, lunches and other tasks, while they are out and about.
High school trips often include overnight stays. This requires a longer commitment from parent volunteers and may include responsibilities throughout the night.
If your child is uncomfortable with you supervising, let them know that parents are needed to make sure the trip runs smoothly. You can always ask the school if you can supervise a different group of children.
Before you can work/ volunteer in a school, you may need to go through a Disclosure Barring Service (DBS). You’ll be asked to fill out a straightforward form which is sent off for processing – the check takes 4-6 weeks. If you have any police convictions, you may still be able to volunteer, depending on the kind of conviction.
Talk to your child’s teacher to find out how you can help out with school trips.