Canteens, uniform shops, student discos, playgrounds, iPads, and more are often funded by a school’s Parents and Citizen Association.
These volunteer-run groups are crucial to the delivery of facilities and services that otherwise, would either not be possible or take valuable funds away from a school’s core objectives.
But with changing family dynamics and circumstances, it is getting harder for P&Cs to attract new members.
Murdoch University researcher Dr Kathrine Sugars, with the support of Murdoch Business School colleague and mentor, Dr Megan Paull, will investigate volunteer engagement in P&Cs across Western Australia after being selected to receive Volunteering WA’s annual research grant.
Working with the WA Council of State School Organisations, which has more than 650 affiliate P&Cs, the research project will seek to answer three questions:
- What does and does not work to recruit and retain parent volunteers to P&Cs across WA?
- What can be done to increase participation in P&C activities?
- How can P&Cs support the participation and inclusion of a more diverse range of parents?
The ‘Volunteer Engagement – Building Parent Participation in P&Cs across WA’ project will engage with P&Cs through a survey and series of interviews, and aim to workshop initial findings at the annual WACSSO Conference later this year.
At the conclusion of the project, Dr Sugars and WACSSO will publish a set of implementable strategies, directed at P&Cs, to encourage parent volunteering.
It is also anticipated the strategies will be applicable to other organisations seeking to involve parents as volunteers.
Dr Sugars said she was delighted to be working with her mentor on a project that connects education, volunteering and community organising: “three things I value right down to my bones,” she said.
“My goal is to make sure we come out of it with a mix of proven strategies and new insights to apply to the age-old question of how we can engage volunteers - strategies and insights that are: flexible, multiple, doable – and work.”
WACSSO president Pania Turner said she was excited about the important research project.
“On behalf of our P&C affiliates, WACSSO State Councillors, and staff I want to acknowledge and thank both Volunteering Western Australia for their support and Murdoch University for bringing their research expertise to this important piece of work,” she said.
“Every year, affiliates ask us how they can grow their volunteer base. It is a recurrent theme in the FAQs we develop and in the training we give.
“We are really looking forward to seeing this research take shape and working together with our affiliates and with Murdoch University to build parent participation in P&Cs across WA.”
For more than a century, WACSSO has worked passionately with school organisations across the State to improve the public education system, working every day to empower parent volunteer organisations through a number of support services, knowledge-sharing, and learning opportunities.