Parental choice and involvement in schooling is a priority for governments and educational authorities in Australia. This priority is driven by a concern for greater school improvement and effectiveness. Strong parental partnership maximises student achievement. Effective schools have high levels of parental and community involvement.
The great success story of Catholic education over the past 100 years has been a direct result of parents, clergy, parishioners and parish school staffs all working As One in partnership for the good of the children. Parents have been integral to the growth and success of both Catholic and parish school education in the Diocese of Lismore since the earliest days.
Parents, along with clergy, teachers and staff all share a common responsibility to be co-leaders in parish schools. Leadership occurs when a person is influential with others to bring about changes that reflect mutual purposes. Christian leadership is characterised by collaboration and service rather than individualism and self-interest. Along with their leadership roles the Parish Priest and Principal also have authority in the parish school.
The pastoral decision of the Australian Catholic Bishops over 100 years ago to create parish school education as we know it today was undertaken in a spirit of partnership with parents and the local parish. In 2007, the Catholic Bishops of New South Wales reaffirmed this commitment in their landmark Pastoral Letter Catholic Schools at a Crossroads.
The Catholic Schools Office, Lismore, has had a long history of engaging parents in a religious and educational partnership for the good of all children and young people. The official parent body for parish schools within the Diocese of Lismore is the Parent Assembly . Each parent is strongly encouraged to be actively engaged in all that the Parent Assembly provides.
The Catholic Schools Office is committed to continue promoting clarity, unity, strategic direction and resourcing around the role of parents as partners in parish schools. The challenge lies before all in Catholic education to clearly identify the responsibilities, capabilities and tasks of parents that they may be even stronger partners in the great adventure of Catholic schooling. The beliefs and practices of parents have undergone a major transition over the past thirty years and it is impacting on the nature and mission of parish schools. As well, government policy, Church teaching and educational research require that we continue to clarify and implement the partnership role of parents in Catholic education.