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17 February, 2021
P&Cs need to know...

To Do list

If you love to tick boxes, print off our To Do List and work your way through the essential tasks for your Parent Association. 
Start-of-year tasks:
      Before your Annual General Meeting (AGM):        After the AGM:

Parent Engagement Grants

Round five of these ACT Government grants is now open and closes April 2nd. Details here.

The funding guidelines used when considering and approving grants are here. All eligible applications are assessed by an independent Assessment Panel (Panel members must first declare any conflict of interest) and rated against the Assessment Criteria. The panel makes a recommendation to an Executive Group Manager in the Directorate who has the delegation to approve the Grant. In some cases, a decision is held off and the grant is referred back to the appropriate principal and P&C for further information.

All applicants, whether successful or unsuccessful, will be formally advised in writing within 30 days of the decision of the Panel. Applicants who are unsuccessful may submit a new/revised application for consideration in the next round.

Working with Vulnerable People (WWVP) changes

You may already have received notification from Access Canberra about changes made to WWVP checks which may now exclude some people from working in and volunteering at schools who were previously eligible for a WWVP card. 
Confused about WWVP checks and responsibilities? See our Info sheet.

The responsibility for ensuring that regular school volunteers (being present at school more than three days in any one month or a total of seven days a year) hold WWVP registration rests with the school. All P&C volunteers, whether they have a WWVP or not, are required to sign in at the school’s front office on each visit. Office staff may ask to sight their WWVP card or card details may need to be recorded. P&Cs should remind volunteers to use the front office sign-in process but do not need to check WWVP status of volunteers.

P&Cs who employ staff
Employers have an obligation to ensure that employees in schools have WWVP registration. If you employ staff on school site, you should have already confirmed their WWVP registration and sighted their card. We suggest that whenever employment contracts are renewed, this process is repeated. Employers may also remind staff that staff are obliged to notify them of any change to their WWVP status.

The current changes to WWVP eligibility will affect only a small number of people. All registered people affected by the changes will be contacted by Access Canberra over the next few months to discuss their registration/conditions. Where they have included a nominated employer Access Canberra will also contact the employer to advise that their registration has changed. This will take several months. If you have any concerns, you can check the status of an employee by calling access Canberra (132281) and choosing the WWVP option.

Conflict of interest/Disclosure of member interests

Due to changes to the Associations Act last year (which governs all incorporated associations including P&Cs), P&Cs need to record and manage any potential for conflict of interest from participants. This is now referred to as Disclosure of Member Interest. We have updated our template nomination and declaration form which you can use to record any member interests which may influence or be seen to influence P&C decisions. It also outlines how member interests need to be managed. More info in our FAQ.

School banking and Financial literacy

As you may be aware, the ACT Legislative Assembly passed a motion last week (see the debate here) on Financial Literacy and School Banking, which will result in the closing of school banking in the ACT. This pre-empted Council’s discussion and consultation with our members, planned for this month so that we could come to and state our position on this topic. Our General Meeting on 23 February will still include a discussion with Ross Hawkins (Education Directorate) on what Financial Literacy in our schools might look like, and we will review the problems around school banking that has led to its ban. The Minister for Education, Yvette Berry, will also join us for discussion and questions.
We understand that parents and P&Cs currently involved in school banking may be disappointed in this decision, and its timing. We are expecting an apology from Greens MLA Johnathon Davies, who tabled the motion, for mis-stating in the media Council's position (he stated that Council was in favour of a ban).

If your P&C runs school banking, please join the meeting to hear more about the next steps - see General Meeting information below.

Cultural Integrity training

If your Parent Engagement Grant included asking for funding for Cultural Integrity training and that section has not been granted, or you have volunteers interested in this training, Council is currently pursuing with the Education Directorate a number of places for parent volunteers in training later this year. We will advise when we have details.

Inquiry into school infrastructure

The ACT Legislative Assembly has established an inquiry into school infrastructure. Council will be creating a comprehensive submission to the inquiry covering system-wide member concerns about school infrastructure (much of which was outlined in our Election Priorities last year). If you have specific concerns about infrastructure at your school, your P&C might like to make its own submission. You are also welcome to email your thoughts and concerns, or responses to the topics below to Council's Policy Officer, Veronica Elliott, for inclusion in Council’s submission.  The inquiry will cover the management of ACT school infrastructure, particularly:
  • the management of hazardous materials in schools;
  • planning for the ongoing maintenance of school facilities,
  • the management of capacity issues in schools,
  • adequacy of heating and cooling
  • demand for sporting facilities on school grounds
  • classroom design
  • environmental sustainability
  • adequacy of parking and bike storage
  • accessibility for students and staff with disabilities
  • accessibility of school facilities by local communities.
Council happenings...

Our activities

School boards
You have probably seen letters from the Education Directorate to P&Cs outlining changes to the make-up of school boards and the election process for 2021. Council is continuing to express the concerns of members to the Directorate. We have voiced the point of view that it is overly complex and does not provide a clear role for P&Cs, or their representative. We have received an undertaking from the Directorate to work with Council to clarify and simplify the process for 2022.  We are looking for your input. What would you like the role of the P&C representative on the Board to be. Do you think the P&C should be involved with the nomination/pre-selection process? Please let Veronica Elliott (Council Policy Officer) know by email, or come to our March 23 Meeting to discuss. 

Voluntary Contributions
Some P&Cs have once again raised dissatisfaction around the wording and timing of letters from schools asking for Voluntary Contributions. Schools must, by law, make it clear that contributions are entirely voluntary and that students will not be disadvantaged if their family does not contribute. We have raised this with the Minister and believe that the Minister's office is following up. Do send us any concerns or examples.  

Complaints handling
We have been providing some feedback to the Education Directorate on their revised complaints handling processes and communications. We are pleased to see some key shifts in how complaints will be handled by schools and the Directorate, much of which was recommended in our joint project addressing violence in schools (Building Strong and Safe Communities for Learning).

General Meeting

Come along and discuss the difficulties with school banking which led to the program being removed from schools, hear what happens now and how financial literacy might be taught. Both Ross Hawkins from ACT Education Directorate and ACT Minister for Education, Yvette Berry, will attend. 

There will also be a discussion about eSafety, and updates on complaints handling, the election, grants, school boards and more.

It's on Tuesday 23 February from 7pm via zoom. Email us to register and online meeting details will be sent to you by 22 Feb.

Early Learning Committee meeting

Join us for a virtual catch up to discuss ACT's Early Learning Strategy updates, your early learning issues and family priorities for 2021, and new eSafety resources for early learners. 

It's on Thursday 18 February at 7pm, via Zoom.  Register for the Zoom meeting.  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.  For further details please email Marina Spurgin, Early Learning Officer.

Upcoming events

  • Early Learning Committee meeting, 7pm, Thursday 18 February (this week), via Zoom
  • General Meeting including presentation/discussion on School Banking and Financial Literacy (see above), 23 February (Week 4), 6:45 for 7pm start. Ends 9:30pm. All welcome. Email to register
You might be interested...

Planning careers

myfuture is Australia’s National Career Information Service and contains information to help you to begin the conversation with your child about the world of work. Using myfuture students can:

eSafety resources for little kids (and their families!)

The eSafety Commissioner has released some great new resources: Parents are also invited to a series of webinars throughout March where you can learn how you can help your child be safer online. All sessions are delivered by eSafety's expert education and training team.
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Comment authorised by Terry L Sanders for the ACT Council of Parents & Citizens Associations

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