POTHOLES: PARENTS' TOUR GROUP

Transient

This is a group brought together in January 2011 by the HSCL coordinators of the 3 secondary schools in West Tallaght; Killinarden Community School, Mount Seskin Community College and St. Aidan’s Community School. 

The group runs tours for parents every 4-6 weeks to areas of historical, social or political interest. The tours are fully paid for by the HSCL budget. Each school usually brings 8-10 parents. Tours are generally half day tours to enable parents return in time to collect younger children from school. Destinations need to be within an hour's travel time from Tallaght. At the end of the year a more elaborate day-long tour is organised. Light lunch is usually provided at the end of the trip. There is a guided element to each trip and parents are given some background information or historical input and reading material to take home. POTHOLES was awarded the South Dublin County Social Inclusion Award in 2012.

To date 8 tours have taken place:

Dublin’s museums and a historical Dublin bus tour.

National Botanic Gardens/ Historical Clondalkin and Dublin Canals.

The Irish Monastic History of Glendalough and Wicklow.

Kilmainham Jail

National Museum of Ireland Collins Barracks, St Michans Catholic Church, St. Mary of the Angels Church and The Capuchin Day Centre.

The Mummies of St. Michans’s Crypt, The 40 Steps, Smithfield, The Fourcourts and other buildings of interest in the area.

Archbishop March’s Library, Dublinia Viking Dublin, Christ Church, St. Patricks Cathedral and Leo Burdocks Chipper

Irish Monastic History of Glendalough and Wicklow part 2

Aims of the Group

Aims of the GroupTo provide an enjoyable and well deserved day out for busy parents

To help parents of different backgrounds and cultures meet with other parents from their own and similar schools and share experiences

To provide a fun and relaxed learning environment for adults

To form a core group of Tallaght Secondary School Parents to organise other Parents’ activities.

To introduce parents to other opportunities and initiatives the schools may provide.

All parents seek to invite others, especially any parent feeling isolated, down or alone, on the next tour and inform them of the benefits of being in the group

The future

This group has been an overwhelming success. Parents love the days out and each one of the aims has become a tangible outcome for many parents. Parents are animated and involved with every aspect of the group and few if any ever miss an outing. Members clearly say that they are learning in an enjoyable and easy way. They are networking and sharing information with each other in relation to supports, services and social opportunities in the community. Some parents have even said that the group has changed their life around. Lots of the parents now meet weekly in the school and have a cup of tea and a chat. Parents now direct and organise the group. They have, in addition to this, started to meet weekly to put together a project of pictures and words summing up the story, workings and benefits of the group to its members. Many parents have stated as a part of this that they have written for the first time in years and have spoken openly to other parents about their lives for the first time. The group has also been a platform for many parents to access or become involved with other courses, activities, committees, services or opportunities within the school or communities they belong to.

However the group is becoming a victim of its own success. Each school can only allocate a small number of places for each trip because of financial factors in relation to admission fees, food or travel. As it is, the cost is shared by three schools in order to sustain the group. If resources were unlimited we could easily run more trips and bring more people. For example one school has 24 parents on a rotating list to go on a tour. The group has trebled in size in a year without any advertising.

The schools are currently spending about €900 euro per year between them in order to run these trips. If that money was doubled we could share this great experience and opportunity with many more parents.

This model could work in any area, it is simple and of great benefit to individuals, to families, the community and to schools.