Parents' and carers' engagement with their child’s education

Key themes to guide parent and carer engagement have been revealed through the Have Your Say platform.

The Department has a commitment to ensuring that parents and carers are positively engaged in their child’s education both in and outside the school gates.

To further support this commitment, the Department undertook a public engagement through the Have Your Say Platform to hear from parents, carers and staff about what is important to them. This will be used to inform future strategies to understand and improve engagement.

A number of open ended questions were asked to better understand how parents, carers and school staff define engagement and what they value. The 538 responses[1] identified key themes that were important to them.

Summary of main themes:

Meaning of engagement

When asked what the word engagement meant to them, the main themes the parents and carers mentioned were being actively involved in their child’s education, being made aware and informed and having connection with their child’s learning, school and/or community.

Staff highlighted the importance of working together in partnership to support learners, focusing on learner outcomes and involving parents and carers in decisions and planning.

Interest in engagement

Parents and carers want to know what their child is learning, understand their child’s progress and receive guidance on how they can help them, and be informed about their child’s wellbeing.

Staff most commonly mentioned wanting to engage with parents and carers to discuss learner wellbeing and behaviour, learning needs and academic progress. They also wanted to help parents and carers support their child’s education, including helping them understand curriculum or assessment requirements.

Factors impacting the engagement experience

Sixty two percent of the participants responding as parents and carers and 82% of staff participants indicated they felt comfortable engaging on most occasions or at all times[2].

Parents and carers highlighted that the contributors to a positive experience included open, effective communication, staff being accessible and approachable, being kept informed and feeling their child is known, valued and cared for.

Staff also mentioned the importance of effective communication, mutually respectful interactions and being learner-centred; focused on learner outcomes.

When there was a negative engagement experience, the surveyed parents and carers referred to experiencing ineffective communication, a lack of follow up or feeling dismissed or ignored. The surveyed staff mentioned inconsistent support, aggressive or threatening behaviour, unrealistic expectations and managing diversity of values as main contributors.

The Department will now use these results along with further research to support the development of the Parent and Carer Engagement Framework, which will set the Department’s vision for how it can work more effectively in partnership with parents and carers for better learner outcomes.

[1] 451 participants responded as a parent or carer of a child in public education and 87 participants responded as NSW Department of Education staff

[2] This online engagement does not provide a representative sample of the population. Further research will explore these views in more detail.

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