Parents at work at Mykhailo Kravchuk Lutsk Gymnasium

Governing the school together

How can you ensure democratic governance of a school if the parents are not motivated to take part? At Mykhailo Kravchuk Lutsk Gymnasium in Ukraine they realized they could not and decided to do something about it.

“Our school governing body was convinced that active involvement of parents in the school life would improve the quality of democratic school governance. At the Summer Academy we set out to come up with ideas on how to get the parents involved”, Oksana Koval, gymnasium deputy director said.

Everyone involved

The outcome was the project “Governing the School together”. Teachers, students and parents got involved. Particular focus was on analysing the motivation of parents. Representatives of parental organizations were trained in internet technologies in order to gather up to date information and the project was presented for the Lutsk city council as well as local media.

The project evolved around several activities, among others: A city seminar for deputy principals, creative workshops for parents and most importantly - a day of parents’ self-government at school. During the day 42 parents conducted lessons and 54 parents and their children helped clean the schoolyard.

"We observed the school work in a different way!" one of the parents, who conducted lessons, said.

In Lutsk democratic school governance is seen as a triangle formed by teachers, students and parents. The lines forming the sides of the triangle represent stable relationships and communication. The groups should know each other, should be able to interact and coordinate their efforts for achieving a common goal.

Internet and social media was used actively during the project. 580 parents registered in the electronic system, 220 parents participated in discussions on the school website and 97 parents started a social media group called Governing School together. While the main target group was parents, student engagement also increased. More than thousand high school students discussed how the school could be run democratically.

Student Council needed

"During the training it became clear that a democratic school is impossible without a student council”, A. Morenchuk, 10th form student, said.

Currently, parents’ involvement in the running of the school has increased by 20 percent. The great results has motivated the team to pursue ambitious future plans among which is the web-conference “Parents’ role in democratic school governance” and distribution of leaflets informing about human rights.

This project is a result of participation at the Summer Academy Democracy at School. The Summer Academy offers training in education for democratic citizenship and human rights (EDC/HRE) to teams of school heads, teachers and representatives from the local community, such as parents or NGOs and is a cooperation between the Polish Ministry of National Education, Centre for Education Development, Poland, The European Wergeland Centre and Council of Europe, and is based on the shared values and principles of these institutions.

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