A TRUE CASE OF HOW ONE PTA DAD CAME UP WITH HIS OWN SIMPLE WAY TO GET MORE DADS INVOLVED
Despite being a secondary school teacher himself, Justin Quinnell, found the experience of his first child starting Glenfrome Primary School in Bristol quite isolating; “I work freelance which means I can be around a lot at school but I quickly realised that this is still quite unusual”.
It was soon clear to Justin that due to their work commitments dads aren’t as involved as mums. Dads have little chance to meet each other and to develop any form of relationship, with the school and other parents, something which is done so well by mums at this stage of their child’s education. This was also reflected in the make-up of the Friends of Glenfrome which is predominately run very successfully by mums at the school including Justin’s own wife!
Undaunted and placing a great value on home-school communication and engagement, Justin has taken the bull by the horns setting-up BOGs, Blokes of Glenfrome, at the beginning of this school year. “In essence, BOGs gives dads at the school a chance to network and get to know each other at a time that doesn’t clash with their work commitments”, said Julian.
Charles Rice of The Fatherhood Institute, the UK’s fatherhood think- tank, has complimented Justin. “There’s a wealth of evidence that children of dads who support their education and are involved in their kid’s school, have higher expectations and do better at school – no matter what background the father comes from. Justin’s initiative is helping to break down barriers and help dads feel that they have a valuable place within the school community”. Justin’s approach is deliberately simple and fun, “I’ve had to make this easy to achieve because if it was dependent on giving it lots of time BOGs would never have got off the ground”. BOGs activities have focused around a local pub quiz and forming a Blokes of Glenfrome team. “Absolutely any dad can join us – we are open to all and emphasise the fun of taking part and getting together. The quiz helps lessen any awkward moments as there are never embarrassed silences when no one knows what to say”.
Taking part in the quiz has also been highlighted as an opportunity to raise funds for the Friends, “Twice now we’ve been just two points away from winning £50”, Justin highlights triumphantly although he quickly adds this would be a nice to have but is by no means the aim of BOGs.
There are now 15 dads who are regularly involved with BOGs which has had some success at engaging dads from a range of different ethnicities reflecting the school’s multiculturalism. “I plan to build on this initial success”, says Justin. “My next aspiration is to stage a dads’ cricket match to grow the numbers involved and reach out further to the range of ethnic groups at the school”.
If your PTA is looking for ways to get more dads involved, Fathers’ Story Week 2012 offers lots of opportunities. Run in the week leading up to Fathers’ Day on Sunday 17 June, Fathers’ Story Week is all about reaching out to dads and getting them to take part in school life.
The Fathers’ Story Week pack costs just £20 and PTA-UK has free packs to give away to the first 10 PTAs to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information on Fathers' Story Week and how your PTA can get involved visit www.fathersstoryweek.org
"Fathers’ Story Week is a great idea. Reading my daughter her bedtime story is one of the highlights of my day. It’s an absolute treat, for both of us, and never a chore, and I believe it to be a special time set aside for just the two of us to enjoy."