POP stars at Padua

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17 June 2022

Matthew Williams, Vice Principal (Mission, Identity & Community) of Padua College, Mornington, reflects on the challenges of and opportunities for engaging with parents to promote successful learning outcomes for students through the ‘Parents of Padua’ (POP):

A challenge for many Catholic secondary schools is the engagement of parents or carers in the education of their teenager. A challenge to break a common mindset that the secondary parent drops their child off at the front gate on day one of Year 7 and then returns for their Graduation Mass at the end of Year 12.

At Padua College, we have searched for ways to engage a parent community that was willing and ready, but unsure of how and what that relationship would look like. The COVID environment of recent times with restrictions on onsite or mass gatherings has also added a layer of challenge.

‘Padua Re-Dreaming’ is a process born out of a review which commenced in 2021 with parents having a key voice in the future directions to be taken across domains or ideals of school life. A reflective element within this process was a discussion about where to best ‘meet’ the parents. Social media and online were where the busy parent could be found, and a first baby step was taken with a successful virtual breakfast gathering for Padua fathers and a guest speaker sharing vibrant stories about being a dad.

Recently there has been the re-energisation of a Parents of Padua (POP) group that now has a healthy membership of over 150 parents with a social media arm. Within this community, parents can seek wisdom and ask questions that may not get more than a grunt at home. They get a comforting sense of connection that they are still vital to the story of their child’s secondary education, even as they grow closer to the pointy end of compulsory studies.

New parents to the Padua College community were identified as a key group to engage. In 2022, we offered the well-regarded ‘Time and Space’ programs: one for Year 7 mothers and female mentors, and one for Year 8 fathers and male mentors. Over two separate evenings, refreshingly held on site and in person, we had 170 families attend. A great turnout and proof in the pudding that parents do want to be engaged and to be key partners in the mission of a Catholic secondary school.

We feel very blessed at Padua College to have many POP stars in our community.