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Parents Forum

Parents' Forum is an opportunity for parents to get together and discuss issues relating to parenting children. It takes place after the Junior School Assembly from 8.45am to 9.30am on Dr Gibbons Verandah. 

The Future of School Series: 

Future of Learning: Summary

May 17th 2019

In today’s final Parents’ Forum of the year we looked back at the question of what type of learning do we want for our children and how does that match we what we have explored over the past few months.  Parents ranked their hopes and values in a diamond ranking format and compared these with the school ideas and values.  The result was the start of a shared understanding of the important values that underpin our purpose and function as a school and as a learning community - which we have tried to capture in the “Why Sheets”  

At the end of the forum we launch the Why Sheets - series of papers that explain our thinking and values as a school community these have now been published on the Future of Learning on the school website.

Transition Forum

April 26th 2019

Today we had three transition forums that explored the challenges and opportunities presented by transitions. 

The first forum focused on transitioning from Grade 5 to Grade 6 which was hosted by a panel of Grade 6 students who shared with parents some of the key lessons they have learned in transitioning to Senior School.  One big take away was the importance of building independence and responsibility early in their journey to help students be organized and manage their time the Senior School.

The second forum was a smaller group of families who explored the challenges faced when returning from the long vacation back to school.  We discussed the importance of re-establishing sleep and other daily routines as the holidays come an end and the importance of maintaining other routines such as reading regularly throughout the holiday.  A summary of the discussion and ideas for transition will be shared with all families at the end of the semester.

The third forum was focused on transitioning to a new school.  There was lots of great discussion and a number of online resources were presented as listed below:

Third Culture Kid | Scout Ash-Dale (TED Talk)

Being a Rootless Third Culture Kid | Benjamin Self  (TED Talk)


Preparing Your Child for a Move

Tips for moving Internationally with your Children

Moving Van Cartoon

Digital Lives

April 12th 2019

Today's forum focused on the digital lives of our children. The topic was selected by parents as we continue illustrate how learning that is self-directed is a powerful vehicle for motivation and engagement.  This was clearly evident from today's discussion as parents explored a variety of scenarios and debated how we can support our children within an increasingly digital world.  The questions tackled issues such as managing appropriate content, access to social media and support for children when they make mistakes.  We were joined by a number of Junior School colleagues who also have children in Senior School, who were able to share their experiences of success and support.  One common theme was the importance of being open with your children, ensuring that there are open lines of communication and that your children feel free to share what they are experiencing.  We also discussed the importance of creating boundaries with choice and that parents need to consider how they are supporting their children in making informed choices.  The discussion ended with Mr. Todd sharing the vision of building parent learning into a more permanent position in the life of the school.  More details of these ideas will be shared in the coming weeks. 

Finally, one resource that was mentioned was Common Sense Media a website designed to help parents understand whether the content of a movie, game or book is appropriate for children.  Please do add it to your favourites as a resource for supporting informed choices about the media our children view.


Experiential Learning

April 5th 2019

In today's forum we embarked on experiencing how learning is designed in some of our classes where we are beginning to embrace agency and opportunities for children.  Today parents had to choose from three options of learning, including two forums with experts and an opportunities to hear parent perspectives from another school.  One expert group was focused on inclusion and partnerships discussed with our incoming Head of School Simon Gillespie and incoming Senior School Principal Seren Davis.  The other group was led by students in Grade 4 and 5 who explained how passion and purpose has motivated their learning through passion projects, iTime and the exhibition.  They were able answer questions about how the learning experience is transforming their learning both at home and at school and the vast array of skills they are acquiring in the process.

The third group also had an opportunity to watch the following TED Talk about how to support your child in their learning, by stepping back and support their growth and a home environment that nurtures who they are not what we want them to be.  In the end no-one chose this option so we've included below for those who are interested:


Motivation - The Science & Psychology of Engagement

March 22nd 2019

This morning's parent forum was another exciting and fascinating discussion around what motivates our children to learn and what motivates our own learning.  Ryan Hopkins-Wilcox shared ideas around passion, purpose, practice and hope that lead to motivation for learning.  This powerful conversation is captured neatly by Dan Pink's RSA Animate that provides a synopsis of his book Drive. 

These ideas of motivation are crucial for the success of student learning and we believe need to drive our design of learning and the future of school.

Agency at Home

March 1st 2019

In today's forum we explored the idea of agency and opportunities for voice and choice at home. It began with an interactive exploration of choices we give to our children - for example who decides what your child watches, reads, plays with, wears, eats and what activities they do after school?  We discussed the importance of giving our children the opportunity to make choices for themselves although we may need to ensure they are informed and that we create boundaries where needed.  We also explored how we can create opportunity for more autonomy, from ideas as bold as letting the children plan your summer break, to planning Friday nights or as simple as deciding a menu for their snack box. The discussion concluded with parents sharing how we can support this autonomy by considering how accessible their resources are (such as their clothes, or snacks, or plates) and how much freedom they have to plan their evening.  A few parents also shared some final suggestions such as putting inspiration quotes that help children make good choices around the house and that sometimes we have to let our children make the "wrong" choice to understand the consequences. One final thought, was that if we don't let our children make their own choices, then their motivation to do things is squashed, this will be the focus of our conversation in the next forum on March 22: Motivation: The Science and psychology of engagement.

What is Agency

February 22nd 2019

Today's Parents' Forum dug deeper into the concept of Agency and why it is so important in helping our children become life-long learners who will be happy and successful in the 21st century.  Ryan Hopkins-Wilcox led the discussion by reminding us of what our children will need, to be successful and referred to the following article in Forbes Magazine.  We went onto review a collection of definitions of agency and how an agentic approach to learning and teaching will enable children to acquire those skills and dispositions mentioned in the article.  We also explored some of the ways that the Junior School is already exploring building agency into the classroom, through student-led-conferencing, self-created schedules, the workshop model of learning, PYPx and CAR time (choose-act-reflect).  The image below shows an example of CAR time with Grade 1 children choosing what order they will complete their activities in Mathematics.

The Enhanced PYP

February 8th 2019

In this fourth edition of the series on the Future of School, we shared some of the key changes developed through the Enhanced PYP.  The Enhanced PYP is the outcome of six years of consultation into the programme and research into current educational research and best practice.  The result of these changes is summarised in the model below:

The Enhanced PYP is divided into three key ideas, The Learner, Learning and Teaching and the Learning Community.  In today's forum, we highlighted a few key ideas from these areas, including agency, the early learner, skills (ATLs), language, the learning community and learning environments.  Each of these ideas will be developed further in the coming months and we shall be sharing these through some information sheets that will be be published on this blog.

What is the Purpose of School?

February 1st 2019

In this edition of the series, we explored the challenges left by our last forum, where the future presents us with many questions about what skills are needed and how we decide what is worth learning.  This conversation is enhanced further by questions raised by Will Richardson in his talk:


In this process of developing our vision of what type school we should design, we used the ideas of Cut, Keep and Create:  What should we cut from schools?  What should we keep and continue?  What do we need to create and change?

How do we prepare our children for their future?

January 18th 2019

Today's forum was another very well attended discussion about what type of future our children will face.  We began by looking at the Did You Know video from 10 years ago, which shares the exponential change that we are experiencing.

The discussion then explored concerns such as the fact that a four year technical degree is outdated by the time students graduate.  So what are the implications of all this rapid change?  Many think tanks and leading educators believe its by focusing on 21st century skills that will help our children cope with this rapid change.  Skills such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity, character development, citizenship and more are essential for success in the future.  What does this mean for schools and future of education?  How do we decide what to spend our time learning since the hours in the school day are finite.  We will have to prioritise what is most important.  Please join us on February 1st as we explore The Purpose of School: What is worth learning?

  • Factory Education: Why schools are the way they are? The historical evolution of schools designed by and for a different era.

January 11th 2019

Today we began by considering that our Junior School students will be starting their first career in the decade of 2030 and asking the questions: what type of career will that be and what skills will be needed?  To consider these questions we reviewed the following two videos:

Sugata Mitra - in the first four minutes of his talk explains his understanding of why schools are designed the way they are.

Sir Ken Robinson - in his RSA animate talk Sir Ken uses the factory model as a way describe how schools currently function.

We considered whether we agree with these suggestions and questions were raised such as: 
    •    What will our children need in the future?
    •    Do universities need to change to accommodate these changes?
    •    Why do we test for normal and average?
    •    Will we need to go to university in the future?
    •    What are employers actually looking for in graduates?
    •    What is the purpose of school?
    •    Do you need to go to school to learn?

We will continue this discussion next week with our next topic titled: How do we prepare our children for their future?

Reading, Passion & Play
October 19th

Today's parent forum focused on our emphasis on parents partnering with us in helping children to read regularly, follow their passions and give them time to play.  We discussed how to build reading into the day's routines, and that bedtime reading or audio books in the car can also help make reading an enjoyable addition to the daily routine.  We also talked about how children's passions can be a vehicle for learning to read and acquire new skills, so do find out what your child is interested in learning in their iTime.  One resource that would be helpful for play experience is https://www.playworks.org/game-library/ where they have a host of play activities that might support play home.

September 21st

This morning parents forum was very well attended with 30 parents joining to hear about how we can better support our families during times of change, whether moving to a new country, returning from holiday or changing grade level.  Susanne Duerr and Francesca Ferrari shared some important tips on how to manage the change including acknowledging what is going well and what we miss.  There are a number of helpful strategies and ideas that were shared in a handout available here.

Kelso's Choices
September 7th

Today discussion focused on Kelso's Choice and how we help our children solve problems in social situations.  Parents shared their experience of using the programme and noted that as parents we are sometimes too quick to jump in and solve the problem.  We also reflected that we can often come to the defense of the younger sibling and expect the older one to use the the choice circle.  The challenge is to strike the right balance between intervening and allowing the children to solve problems themselves.  The programme suggests that children should try two choices first before speaking to an adult to help. The circle of choices is available here if parents would like put a copy up at home in central location like the fridge door.

Introduction to SeeSaw
August 31st

At today's parent forum we shared the e-portfolio tool SeeSaw and how it can be used by parents to follow their child's learning journey.  We encouraged parents to view the portfolio each week and gave the follow tips on how to use it with your child:

  • View the posts that your child creates (find a regular time)

  • Discuss with your child what they have created (notice the process/skills)

  • Share your discussion with the teacher

  • If commenting, provide guiding feedback to your child

  • Be positive and encouraging

Use the following links if you would like to learn more about how SeeSaw works or how to use the Family App.