Developing positive relationships
The development and maintenance of mutual trust and respect are essential for positive relationships to be sustained. Schools are encouraged to recognise families as the first and continuing educators of their children.
- build formal and informal structures to respectfully consult with all parents and the community
- use the Family School Partnerships Framework School Assessment Tool - Reflection Matrix for planning
- embed the importance of developing relationships with the community into the school plan
- adopt a ‘strength based’ approach towards all parents, i.e. staff are encouraged to adopt the attitude that parents and carers are doing the best they can on any given day
- seek to understand issues that are important to the community
- employ community liaison officers (CLOs) to communicate formally and informally with parents
- provide professional learning for staff around a ‘strength based’ approach to reporting
- share technology across partner schools so parents can engage with the whole K-12 community in their local area.
What they said
"In some cultures, parents only get involved with the school if their child is in trouble. Here, it is different. Parents are encouraged to participate." Community information officer, Islington Public School
"Parents, especially our Aboriginal parents, trust the school now and feel welcome, like part of the family … honesty is the biggest thing with our parents and now they trust us. Parents feel comfortable calling in and feel that they will be listened to." Aboriginal education officer, Maitland High School
"There is a sense of trust in the community. Parents are articulating that they are pleased with the progress that children are making with their learning. They can see the links between the classrooms, the learning conversations, the parent workshops and the talk between the principal and the Parents & Citizens Association." Principal, Condell Park Public School
How they did it
Lightning Ridge Central School used the school planning process to obtain the opinions of parents, students and teachers using a variety of means including:
- consultation with the P&C and the local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Inc. (AECG)
- parent/teacher interviews
- informal ‘yarns’ with parents
The outcome of this process led to the introduction of a variety of new community events, such as local blokes’ day, grandparents’ day and after school activities.
Maitland High School employed an Aboriginal education officer who was well respected by the school community. As a result, the Maitland High School Aboriginal Heritage Centre and Minimbah outdoor teaching area were established.
Establishing supportive relationships
Auburn North Public School’s community is culturally diverse with more than 97% of students from language backgrounds other than English. All new families are welcomed into the school through interviews with parents and students on arrival. Community liaison officers, interpreters and local community support networks are made available when required.
Two multi-lingual community liaison officers are employed to establish supportive relationships and enhance communication. Ninety-five percent of parents attend biannual conferences with teachers and students to collaboratively set goals for student learning.
The school website has been developed to enable students and parents to have access to quality online curriculum links through the library to support learning goals. Twitter, Sentral and other applications are used for two-way communication. Parent workshops focus have been held to explore use of communication tools preferred by the school.