Thank you to all the parents that gave their time to provide feedback to the school on the times for assemblies. We really appreciate your thoughts and reasons given. From the onset of this process we said that the decision would not be a majority rules but a decision would me made after careful consideration of all aspects.
A strong emphasis must be given to maximising the learning time of the students as it will always be the primary goal of the school. Our small community centred school also however places a large emphasis on building community and exploring alternatives that engage the children and the school community. We believe strongly that this engagement transfers to higher learning outcomes.
So, to the survey. The survey feedback was as follows:
Within the staff voting, only one teacher preferred the morning time slot. There is only one reason for teachers selecting the afternoon time slot for assemblies. Yes there are some minor advantages, such as on the day preparation time but the primary concern of staff is that the mornings are the best learning time for children when minds are fresh and new concepts are best retained.
Academic research is perhaps a little undecided on mornings or afternoons. If you do a google search you will find studies that support either time of day. Simple google searches are however not the best research tool for adults with an educational background. In my own research, rather that using the standard google search engine, I opted for their scholar search engine at http://scholar.google.com.au
The results obtained here were also mixed with a preference for morning learning over afternoon learning. However if you refine your searching to search for studies and research into morning and afternoon times within the teaching of reading, there was a definite and substantial correlation towards the morning time slot being the most effective learning time.
In surveying the staff while the results were heavily weighted towards the afternoon, it was the school’s literacy coordinator, Amanda Sullivan that pointed out in here comments; while she understood the position with parents, being a parent wanting to be at her own children’s assemblies. Assemblies in the morning result in 40+ hours of lost literacy time, often more and on a Friday, when people begin wind down this is almost impossible to make up.
While parents will have a tough time getting to assemblies for their children if their work is not flexible, it needs to be remembered that while a parent may try to get to one or two assemblies in each term, the children are siting through them all and missing this valuable learning time. Yes there will be assemblies that parents want to get to but work will not allow. From a parent’s perspective, this can be devastating, but any assembly at any time, will see parents unable to attend and others able to attend. Changing our assembly time will, from the data collected, just rotate the parent group. The data collected this term is that many parents can attend in the afternoons. They may not be the same parents, they may be a mixture of old and new due to the time change, but the attendance has not waned.
Moving forward, the school does need to give prime importance to learning, we are also of the mind that wherever possible all parents should be catered for. When these two directives clash, learning must take centre stage. We would not be doing our jobs if we allowed it to be overtaken. But as a measure of trial, just as we trialled moving to an afternoon time slot, we will also use 2014 as a continuing trial based on some extra parameters.
In terms 1, 2 & 3 the school will maintain the afternoon time slot for assemblies. In term 4 only, we will have a morning time slot on the Fridays as in previous years.
All assembly times for the year are on the school calendar. These will be reviewed at the beginning of term 2 to ensure that they are all still accurate and that each class has a time slot in term 4. In this way parents have a maximum amount of time to plan ahead for attending their child’s assembly item.
At the conclusion of 2014 we will review alternating term 4 assemblies to a Friday morning.