Updated: with information and resources about the “School Environment Group” and also the “Coordinating Committee” – very important advisory bodies at the school.
I just wanted to comment on how absolutely fantastic it is to see the Birralee administration suddenly working so quickly to update their parent handbook! When I presented my first list of recommendations for improvement (see link below) to the business manager in October 2018 – as per his request – he was quite clear that it would take some time to make these changes, and that possibly they wouldn’t happen until next year’s version (I’d have to look up my meeting notes to determine his exact wording… I’ll post an update with that if I find it).
Now, “surprisingly” and “coincidentally” after this website was published, they have a newly updated parent handbook! Based on my dealings with the admin, they will likely claim that they had started on these changes a long time ago, and that it isn’t in response to getting called out on these issues. These are the sort of fabrications they constantly come up with – it is common practice for them to use “alternative facts” in their answers.
See links and notes below!
But let’s talk about the “School Environment Group”…
There’s a new “diagram” on page 14 the updated Parent Handbook that mentions the “School Environment Group”. I had actually spent an entire month requesting information about this group from the principal – I was PC secretary at the time and needed to include the slideshow she had presented at a PC meeting (which contained some information about the SEG). But the principal ignored all requests (the treatment you get when you start asking questions and don’t settle for shallow or obfuscated answers), even going so far as to holler back a rude response of “when I get to it!” after I asked about it upon running into her at the front office at school.
It seems that while they have now included a mention of the SEG on page 56 of the updated Parent Handbook, there is still no actual information on who is in this group, how to get involved, where past minutes can be obtained, or any other actual information.
And here’s why the School Environment Group is important:
School Environment Committee (SMU):
The purpose of the School Environment Committee (Norwegian abbreviation SMU) is to ensure that the school works systematically to promote a good school environment. SMUs must act as advisory bodies for the school concerning matters that relate to the school. The pupils, parents, the school, employees of the school and a representative of the local authority must be represented. Parents and pupils must jointly have a majority in SMUs.
It is the responsibility of the school owners and head teacher to ensure that all the advisory bodies are established and act in accordance with the provisions of the Education Act.
While it’s fantastic that they’re starting to update the handbook with important information, even if it’s only out of response to being called out on these issues, the lack of information on important councils like the SEG should be worrying to any parent at the school (present or future). Given that the SEG deals with issues like the health and safety of the school environment, bullying and harassment – areas that Birralee has been demonstrably poor in handling or informing parents about – this is a council that needs to function and serve the parents and students as intended. For an administration that actively silences and shuns parents, refuses to be held accountable for their actions, and is backed by a Board of Directors that enables this unprofessional behaviour, one can assume that the historic lack of information or visibility on the SEG is either highly convenient or entirely by design.
And what about the “SU”?
Another important advisory body that schools in Norway are required to have by law (except for independent schools) is the Samarbeidsutvalg -“SU” – or “Coordinating Committee” – which is described as: from http://www.fug.no/coordinating-committee-su.144735.en.html )
Coordinating Committee (SU):
The Coordinating Committee (Norwegian abbreviation SU) is the school’s highest advisory body, on which all the parties in the school are represented: pupils, parents, teaching staff, other employees and two representatives from the local authority, one of which must be the head teacher. SUs have the right to issue statements with regard to all matters that concern the school.
Coordinating Committees can issue statements on the following:
– Budget proposals
– Activity and development plans for the school
– Plan for the home-school partnership
– School assessment
– Plans for alterations to and maintenance of the school’s facilities
– The school’s information activities
– Principles for selecting books for the school library
– Leisure activities
– School transport
– Traffic conditions and how the road on which the school is situated can be protected
– Rules concerning conduct and behaviour
This is yet another very important advisory body that the Birralee International School does not have – which should be greatly concerning for all Birralee families, as they deserve to be properly represented at Birralee in the same ways they would be at any other school in Norway.