Parents’ Days — Parents’ Perspectives

I have attended all three Parents’ Days in this, our son’s first year, at Pennine and have found them all interesting, informative and enlightening without being in any way dull.

I particularly enjoyed June’s Parents Day with its theme of “the importance of craftwork”, and the opportunity it provided for me to learn more about the crafts and workshops that are on offer for our young people.  I learned about the valuable work that the students do in the Tools for Self Reliance workshop and, later, in the pottery, doubtless shared their feelings of pride and achievement at taking a lump of cold clay and producing something ornamental and attractive that was “all my own work”.

But what was best of all about the day was the opportunity to chat with staff, co-workers and other parents as we joined in the activities. From my first visit to Pennine I have always felt very strongly that the people who live and work here are part of one very large family.  This last Parents’ Day gave me the opportunity to get to know that family better and for them to get to know me.  The insights that I think we all gained from this are so valuable.  I would like to thank everyone for a most enjoyable day, and give special thanks to Ju-mi for her help and guidance in the pottery.



Thanks for the Open Day of June 2nd, 2007. We arrived to coffee and biscuits in the house lounge, which gave us a chance to meet other parents and to see Tom socialising, and serving biscuits. As we left for a craft talk, Tom was happy to start cooking lunch. He has grown into a community person!

The interesting talk put crafts into a clear mind/body development sequence. John then had an excellent introduction to collecting and renovating tools for Africa, including seeing where students worked a charcoal forge, in the presence of a nesting blackbird. Sue was amazed at the quality of weaving and what a serene activity it is. She bought a range of products made by Tom, who shows skills we never believed possible.

A leisurely lunch allowed us to see Tom eating pasta, inconceivable last year, to be followed by further craft work. It is so good to take part in student activities, and different ones each Parents’ Day. We certainly feel part of the Community, and are delighted to see the progress Tom is making.

S.K and J.K.


We have just had another one — Parents Day, I mean — last Saturday. Parents’ days at Pennine give one an opportunity to experience exactly what one’s offspring spends his or her time doing.

This time I spent my time in TFSR or “Tools for Self Reliance”, where Bob showed us how the students were putting together a kit to go to a mechanic in Tanzania. Not only were they sourcing the tools (all second hand) which could involve going round local recycling centres, but also cleaning them up and re-setting them and building a crate to ship them in.

On past parents’ days I have done basketry, gardening — tying up prickly gooseberries; drawing — we were told to draw a person using our non-dominant, in my case left, hand as that would put us closer to the position a student would be in; cleaning the bathrooms; the Industrial Revolution in the classroom; woodwork. It’s brilliant. You really get a feel of how the teachers teach and what the end result might be.

Before all this, there is a talk about some aspect of the curriculum or the way the place works. On Saturday, Raph Taylor, one of the house parents, talked about the sequencing of craft skills from the ones requiring the least dexterity (felt making) to those requiring the most — and a lot of strength too — metal work. It was short and to the point, and we moved on to doing the craft as above. You can choose which you do — I have yet to try pottery, it’s always full before I arrive.

You also get a lunch which my son assures me is much the same as on other days, and is prepared by the students and co-workers as usual. It is very good — and VERY healthy, although we did have ice cream for pudding this time.

A few parents never come which is sad, as they don’t see what their child is getting up to and get to meet all the fantastic people who make Pennine tick, the co-workers from all over the globe, the teachers who come in for specific tasks and most important of all the long-term co-workers who run the place.

And at the end you get your child back for a bit…