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13 October, 2020
P&Cs need to know...

Easing of COVID restrictions

The Education Directorate's updated Road Map details COVID plans for schools. Parents are still asked to avoid entering the school, but can attend scheduled events such as meetings with teachers. It includes the following of interest to P&Cs. 

The preference is for P&C meetings to continue to be held online or offsite. Where this is not working for your P&C, small onsite meetings may be able to be arranged (there are Directorate planning and cleaning considerations). Contact Council to pursue this option.

Student-only fundraisers can go ahead (eg a colour-run)

P&C-run discos outside of school hours can be held as long as:
  • the maximum capacity of the room/hall is observed for parents/carers in attendance (not counting staff and students), up to a maximum of 100
  • good hygiene is followed - eg the provision of hand sanitiser
  • social distancing is maintained. Think carefully about queuing of adults, eg for pick-up/drop-off/signing in. You may need markers to keep people 1.5m apart.
  • attendance records are kept (for contact-tracing if needed)
Working bees
P&C working bees can be held on school grounds as long as:
  • the maximum capacity of the room/space is observed
  • social distancing and good hygiene is followed
  • attendance records are kept (for contact-tracing if needed).
All this - and more - is listed on our COVID-19 Information Page

Election day stalls

During the school holidays the recommencement of Bunnings BBQs was announced and this was the catalyst for Council to lobby hard for P&Cs to be able to hold BBQs on election day (October 17). Time frames were short and the position we were able to negotiate was that P&Cs who came together to write a shared COVID-safe plan - with Council's coordination and guidance - would be able to go ahead with an election BBQ if that plan was approved by the ACT Chief Health Officer. The plan is now approved for the 11 P&Cs that were able to get back to us before the deadline.

Obviously, we would have preferred an outcome that automatically included all P&Cs, but this was just not forthcoming! Many thanks to Council staff and volunteers who gave up their holidays to create this opportunity.

End of year events

New guidelines have just now(!) been released for end of year events such as formals and graduations. There is some good news in this lengthy document - including larger gathering numbers, especially if a venue with tiered seating is used. We hope this will make it possible for more parents and carers to be more involved with these important events.

Parental engagement grants for P&Cs

The successful grant recipients in the first round of ACT Government's Supporting Parent Engagement Grants have been announced - congratulations to those winning a grant. The list makes interesting reading - what others are doing and what can be included in the grants. There is still plenty of time to apply for the remaining two rounds.  Apply here by October 30.  We have put together some notes to help you apply.

Financial review workshop

We have had to delay this workshop for P&C treasurers. It was scheduled for October 22, but will now go ahead on Tuesday 17 November. This is usually a very interactive workshop so it is proving the most difficult to shift online. It will be a simplified version of our usual offering, looking at what a Financial Review (a legal requirement for all P&Cs) involves and how to prepare your books and files for it. You can find out more and register here.  
People already registered will be contacted directly about the date change.

Employing a business manager

We've had a string of enquiries from P&Cs thinking about employing a Business Manager to look after P&C business, so we have decided to offer a special online information session in a few weeks' time. The plan is to hear from P&Cs who already do this, and someone working in that role, plus discuss some of the requirements and ramifications for your P&C. We haven't got a firm date yet, but email us if you are interested and we'll make sure you find out about it when we do!

Voting for schools

In the run up to the ACT election, Council has been working to highlight the needs of public schools - as identified by our members to us over the years. Council is not aligned with any political group/party and works with all parties to identify public education priorities and policies. Council officers have met with interested candidates to discuss our priorities.

We have been very pleased to see schools in the spotlight so much this election and as promises have been released by parties some have obviously been influenced by our lobbying and conversations. Our most recent press release summarises some of the promises which align with our priorities, and we have invited the major parties to provide us with a 3 to 5 minute video about their education policies to make it easier for parents to vote with schools in mind. See the videos on our Facebook feed

World Teachers Day

This year probably more than any other, parents have a new appreciation for what teachers do each day to help our kids focus and learn, so we're hoping that collectively Council and our members (that's you!) can make a bit of a fuss of all our school staff for World Teacher's Day celebrations on Friday October 30 (Week 3). We've seen some great ways that P&Cs have shown their appreciation of teachers in the past (eg see the comments in this Facebook post or this one). From a thoughtful gift (ideas here) to morning tea treats, or messages from the kids, we're hoping you might let us know your 2020 plans so that we can share for inspiration and publicise! 

Canteen Connect Online 2020 – Share, Learn, Inspire

We are one week out from the Canteen Connect Online event! Have you registered? It's on Tuesday 20 October from 4 – 5pm and registrations close Sunday 18 October 2020After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the online meeting.
Council happenings...

Our activities have included...

The election
As mentioned above, a lot of time and energy was put into trying to secure permission for election day stalls; and we've been wrapping up our candidate meetings and election lobbying.

End of year events
We have continued to question the Directorate and lobby to ensure the best possible outcome for parents and students for end of year events such as formals and graduations. Be assured that senior Directorate staff know how important this is to parents, and that we will continue to work towards as much parent participation as possible.

Our Reconciliation Working Group has been working on suggestions for NAIDOC week activities that might be appropriate for schools and P&Cs. The brainstorming session at our last meeting was very fruitful - thanks to those involved. The suggested activities are being collated and will be distributed soon.

Early Learning Committee Meeting

Join in online at 7pm on Thursday 22 October to hear about and have your say on:
  •  ACT's Early Learning Strategy released
  • NEW Transition to school and preschool webinar and resources available
  • Challenges and wellbeing for early learning families
  • Relationships and sex education for early learners: background and parent thoughts.  
To Join Zoom Meeting -

General Meeting

Council's next meeting, on Tuesday October 27 will start with a presentation by Addie Wooten, CEO of Smiling Minds. She will give a brief overview of the Smiling Minds not for profit organisation which aims to provide accessible, life-long tools to support healthy minds. Youth mental health is a major problem and the incidence of mental illness continues to rise. Mindfulness is proven to lead to better attention, memory, regulation of emotions and self-awareness. In turn, improvements in these areas can lead to reduced stress, anxiety and depression, better academic skills, social skills and self-esteem. This is increasingly important with the extra stress placed on students and parents due to COVID19.

The meeting will be held via Zoom, starting at 7pm. Contact us to attend.

Upcoming events

  • General Meeting including presentation on 'Smiling Minds', Tuesday 27 October (Week 3), 7-9pm via Zoom. All welcome - email to attend.
  • Early Learning Committee meeting Thursday 22 October (Week 2) 7pm Via zoom.
  • Financial review workshop, 7pm Tuesday 17 November (Week 6). See item above.
You might be interested...

Discovering Autism

Marymead Autism Centre's, Discovering Autism workshop is for parents, carers and relatives of kids aged 7 to 12 years to find out more about autism, even if your child does not have an autism diagnosis yet. Topics covered include understanding the diagnosis,  strategies to support your child, and accessing available supports. The cost is $200 for two, 2-hour sessions (Thursday 5 and 12 November, 9:30am to 11:30am). 

Year 12s and what's next

The Your Career website supports people to make informed career decisions now, and as the economy recovers from COVID-19. Powered by world-leading labour market intelligence, visitors to Your Career will be able to interact with a range of tools to help them understand where the jobs are now, and where they will be in the future, and which skills they may need to get there.  

The Federal Government has also created the School Leavers Information Kit and School Leavers Information Service to help school leavers navigate the changed labour market as a result of COVID-19.
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Comment authorised by Terry L Sanders for the ACT Council of Parents & Citizens Associations

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