It was my fourth parent coffee morning at school yesterday and it went well once again. There is always a moment of doubt in the morning, that everybody will forget and that nobody will come. But as I brought Joshua into school, I recognised a number of Mums waiting in the foyer as Joshua made his slow walk passed to his classroom. So I set up the room and put the kettle on, now with more confidence that we would have some parents in attendance.
The room was immediately full as I invited those waiting to come down, which was great and everyone started to chatter away and tuck into the cake and biscuits. Very early on, somebody asked when the next event was going to be , which I took as a positive sign. We had settled on the last Friday in the month , but as that will be Good Friday, we could either make it in just three Fridays time, or wait until after the Easter holidays. The consensus was to repeat the event in just three weeks time, so that too is encouraging.
We all have at least two things in common : we all have a child that attends the same special school and so we all know the challenges of raising a child with special needs, even though each child’s disabilities are different and their ages range from juniors up to 18 year olds in the sixth form. So as well as everyday chat, a range of topics were covered either by the group as a whole or in smaller pockets of conversation, such as carers allowance, respite, transitions to adulthood and the complicated payroll system for Direct Payments. I heard one lady say ‘ It is a good job you came, or else I would never have known that!’, which was great to overhear.
It is a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and I am hoping that it will steadily grow so that more parents get involved. I was trying to persuade some Mums that I met on Wednesday to come along. One said that she was reluctant to come alone, as she did not know anyone, and I do know how intimidating entering a room of strangers can feel, as I have faced that fear many times in my life. I used to be more lily-livered than I am now, I have more self confidence now than before, but I am close enough to it to remember how frightening it could feel. So I tried to reassure her that we were a friendly group and I pointed out that ” You know me now.. and you never will know any more parents, if you do not give it a go” So we shall see.. the cake is the hook to persuade them to come, but I am hoping that it becomes more about mutual parent support, than about eating free cake and biscuits, although that is always good too.