Factors in engaging the school community
Scout in Practice guide for Principals and School Leaders
Scout provides several information reports that can support schools to collaborate with their community identify strategic priorities and implement plans for continuous achievement.
Schools that excel are recognised as excellent and responsive by their community because they use best practice to embed a culture of high expectations and effectively cater to the range of equity issues at their school.
The Current Enrolment report and the Carer Profile report can be found in the Enrolments app.
Current Enrolment report
This report provides a high-level view of a school’s current enrolment data.
Use the report to:
- support school staff to make decisions informed by the characteristics of the students enrolled at the school.
- identify student groups that are present in the school’s community e.g. students for whom English is an additional language. This supports schools to develop school programs to address the needs of these identified groups.
- identify anomalies in enrolment data to support the collection of accurate and complete enrolment data in a school.
What factors do I need to consider when engaging in a culturally diverse community?
Scenario: Factors in engaging the school community
Your school would like to develop specific programs that address the unique needs of identified student groups.
Begin by looking at the school’s Current Enrolment report which contains six charts:
These visualisations could answer questions about the learning community in the school. For example, is the school’s provision for EAL/D students sufficient? Could the school employ a Community Liaison Officer to assist in communicating with families? Should interpreters be provided for parent-teacher nights?
- Use the Aboriginality column chart to identify the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (or both) students that attend your school.
- Click on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bars to use the cross-highlighting function. Note how the other charts highlight to indicate the number of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students in the corresponding charts. You can also ascertain student numbers by hovering your mouse over each bar in the Aboriginality chart.
- Maximise the Aboriginality chart using the focus mode. (see Figure 2)
- How many Aboriginal students are enrolled at your school? Do they speak English as a dialect? How many students are presenting as ‘Neither Aboriginal nor Torres Strait Islander’ in the chart? What are the implications of this? Do you have any programs or staff to support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at your school?
- You can export this data in an Excel document if you click on the ellipsis (…) next to the focus mode icon (indicated by the yellow arrow above).
- Use the Country of Birth column chart to display the students' country of birth. This is sorted by descending student count, with counts of each country on the y-axis.
- Cross-highlight a country by clicking on the column in the chart. If you hover your mouse over the Scholastic Year column chart, a callout box will give you a breakdown of the number of students in that year group correlating to your selection. These students will be highlighted in the other visualisations in the Current Enrolment report.
- Consider the number of students in your school or year group that speak English as an additional language. How many students were born overseas? What are the implications in terms of religious observations or ceremonies? Would you need to consider specific cultural celebrations?
- Repeat this process with the other bar charts as they pertain to your school context:
- Scholastic Year column chart to pinpoint trends such as population growth, or a particular scholastic year when students leave the school.
- EAL/D: This bar chart displays the number of students with English as an additional language or dialect. This can help principals to plan for additional resources for children whose first language is not English.
- The Home Language column chart shows the languages spoken at home by students at the school. It is sorted in descending student count. Note that the large number of 'Not Specified' values is due to the way the enrolment form is worded. The question on home language asks carers to specify what language other than English is spoken at home. A value of ‘Not Specified' generally means the student speaks English at home.
- The Has Language Background other than English column chart shows the number of students who have a language background other than English. The “Yes” value is made up of students who speak a language other than English at home, and/or have a parent/carer who does not speak English as a first language.
Carer Profile report
Use the Carer Profile report to access the demographic information on primary carers for students in your school.
This report presents multiple charts, you might focus on the Language at Home and Country of Birth charts to identify the main language other than English spoken by the parents/carers which could assist you to effectively engage with your school’s community.
Consider how you would communicate to parents if your school has a majority of carers who speak a language other than English.
Other useful charts in the Carer Profile report are the Occupation Group chart and the School Education and Tertiary Education pie charts:
The parents/carer’s occupation group is defined by the ABS and offers insight into the type of employment parents/carers are engaged in, as well as their level of education. This Scout report reflects the data it draws from so it might seem to display inaccurate information but this information may be incorrect at the source. For example, the Carer Profile report relies heavily on parents or carers to accurately record their occupation or education level when they enrol their children at school. A parent might report their occupation as a Qualified Professional even though they have stepped out of that role for the last two years to become the primary caregiver for the family.
- What can you learn about the families in your school community by accessing the reports in the Community Profile app?
- How does the data illustrate student diversity in your school community?
- What are the implications to your school when you consider the parent/carer education level within your community?
- What support structures will need to be in place to support students in your school?
Triangulating the data:
- How does parent/carer education level help you understand your community when you identify student backgrounds and cultures? What implications does this have for teaching and learning?
- How is understanding a child’s languages spoken at home going to enable you to engage with the school community and the needs of the school community?
Once you have the data
You can use this information to ascertain the programs you could develop to address the unique needs within your school community. We highly recommend using Scout data in conjunction with internal data sources.
Where to next?
You can access resources and information relating to Factors in engaging with the school community here:
- How high expectations and engagement in primary schools drive student learning
- Support student engagement and effective classroom practices in primary school: Warwick Farm Public School
- Supporting student engagement and effective classroom practice in primary school: Liverpool West Public School
- Practical resources and case studies to increase participation in the Tell Them From Me parent survey
- Schools: Language diversity in NSW, 2018
- The role of student engagement in the transition from primary to secondary school