The reason I mention this is because Rata Foundation has just released their 2015 grants. I am busy cutting them into my mega database, but was struck with a few thoughts on their Education grants.
I really don’t quite understand what high decile schools are doing applying, and usually receiving, grants. In the Rata list, we have Ohoka, Swannanoa, Sumner, St Albans Catholic, Cobham, Christchurch Boys’ and Middleton Grange all getting various amounts of money from Rata. All decile eight and above.
Now, I know that deciles don’t actually translate to a bunch of rich parents at a local school, and that it’s a very blunt instrument with which to administer funding. I am also aware that there are arguments that free education is something our society is based on, and that the ever insidious “parental donations” can be a source of angst amongst some. I recall some early conversations with parents about not wanting to bake another “flipping” cake, and that they should just add to the parent donation.
However, after being involved in the PTA, and had children come through primary, I now totally get the need for community building around the school base. There is that rather awful image of the parenting community, and I guess it can daunting for some. The PTAs role is not to compare against the Jones’s, but rather to make sure that me, as a parent, has the social connections with my kids’ families, so we can create that village to raise children in. And this is where the money thing comes in: tomorrow night I will reconnect with people who I don’t see at the school gate. I will meet new people who could well be a part of my kids’ community for another decade. I will find out other parents’ concerns, delights and challenges in the most important job we do have. Fund raising is the nominal reason we are there, and yes we’ll be encouraged to spend too much on things we may not need. But the real strength in these sorts of things is the community bonds which are formed and forged.
Sure it’s a truckload of work (fortunately not for me), but the team putting it together have developed skills and relationships, and will have a great knowledge now of their community. I could have spent a couple of days producing up funding requests for the same thing, and yes, they probably would have been supported by the likes of Rata, or a gaming trust. However, the collateral benefits from the ball would not have been realised, and our community’s lives would have been that much poorer.
I really feel that in the narrative around communities, many groups forget about the fluffy stuff. If a community has the wherewithal to be self reliant, then I really believe it jolly well should be. Just because the money is actually available doesn’t mean it should be tapped.
Another component to our entitled young offspring is getting them to work for it. This could be through some form of child centred fundraising: mufti days, swim a thons or whatever. Getting the kids to have some skin in the game on things that benefit them I reckon goes a long way to having them respect what is provided for them.
Now, Rata’s grants list don’t actually show what the money goes towards, and its often hard to understand where the grants go to from individual school communications. There are some instances when the money is totally justified: before we ask can we please understand the want verses the need, and secondly, consider the resources of the community.
Would love to talk with you if you think this is just a little bit interesting.