What would happen if you handed over the management of a setting to the parents of the children who went there? Would they be excessively demanding, expecting things to be constantly adjusted for their own child? Would they put the desires of their own child above the needs of the many? Would it go all Lord of the Flies and descend into chaos?
A voluntary run preschool is managed by the parents of the children who go there. The staff are in charge of how the setting is run, and how the children learn, but parents are the trustees, and make the strategic decisions. When most parents wanted our preschool to open 15 minutes earlier, to fit in better with drop off at our local primary school, we took a vote, got staff agreement and changed our opening hours. We’re not telling the staff how to teach, we’re working together to make the setting work at its best, for us and our children. Home visits are not a burden, but a brilliant opportunity to get to know our families. The thing about parents is that they have lots of information about their children, so they can tell us if something really isn’t working. (A bit like when we all tried to tell the DfE that the baseline was a silly idea.) As parents we spend countless hours with our children. We know what they need better than their schools could ever do. Listening to parents doesn’t mean us demanding and getting what we want, it’s just going to the source of the knowledge.