We interview Stuart Bonthron, Chair of the of the Parents’ Association at Abingdon Preparatory School in Oxfordshire
When you were a child what did you want to be?
When I was a child I wanted to be an architect. I’m now an engineer, I think I wasn’t quite creative enough to be an architect but I still enjoy problem solving. We do lots of creative things in our free time to make up for it!
What inspired you to get involved in school life?
Firstly, I wanted to meet more of the parents of the children that my son was in school with. I was also aware that all of the parents I did already know were all in the same year group. So I really wanted to find out what goes on in different years to help me prepare for what was coming ahead for Matthew and to connect with different parts of the school.
What have you learned from the experience?
I’ve learnt what goes on behind the scenes at the school, which is very interesting. Sometimes when you’re very focused on your own year group and what your own child is doing, you don’t understand the complexity of running a school and all the different things that are going on. I think I also learnt about some more of the opportunities that are there for my son to get involved in, and probably have more of a personal relationship with some of the other teachers who are not his core teachers.
What have you found most rewarding about the experience?
The sense of teamwork that we get. We do some quite big events – so we’ve got firestorm (fireworks display) to which over 700 people will be coming. That’s quite a small group of us that organise it but on the night a lot of people muck in to help out. When people enjoy the event and come and tell us about it, there’s a good sense of achievement that we can pull that off. We’ve got some new events coming along, but I think the refining and the tweaking of existing events is something that’s quite rewarding – to see different ideas being appreciated by the boys.
What do you do every day to connect with your children and how did you come up with the idea?
We play, that’s the main thing. In year 4 there’s lots of homework to do but we make time for going outside and playing.
What would you hope to learn from other mums and dads?
I suppose there’s always trying to speak to the other mums and dads about how they deal with the homework. With the workload that you get back from the school, and how to make it more fun and interesting: tricks and tips along those lines. Other activities that they’re doing around and about with their children. I think that’s especially important with the parents I speak to in the higher up years in the school so that you don’t just find out about them when you get there and you know a bit about what to expect.