Communication is a two-way exchange. Changes made to current communication systems are a critical factor in schools’ success in consulting with their communities.
- use web pages, specialist apps, social media channels (including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and text messaging to communicate
- produce Filmpond stories, movies and video clips which are published on school websites
- enable family access to student work samples via digital portfolios of student work
- ensure rigour in the use of plain English in written communications
- utilise interpreters and translations to support families and students at meetings
- translate school signage in relevant languages including local Aboriginal languages to affirm the value the school places on the cultural background of students and connection to country
- allocate funding for technology to support the integration of the school’s approach to community consultation
- support technology integration across learning communities.
What they said
"To engage with our families, we need twenty first century engagement strategies. Our families are working and busy, twentieth century forms of engagement will not work." Principal, Rooty Hill High School
"We don’t need to always come to meetings, we go to Facebook." Parent, Callaghan College Wallsend Campus
"We have tried to build a culture of constant communication. We want teachers to, where possible, respond to any queries/phone calls within 24 hours. With social media we are open to immediate response to an issue." Principal, Tanilba Bay Public School
How they did it
Warilla North Public School used the Skoolbag app to provide information to families about school activities. This proved to be a more accessible and useful way of engaging parents than more traditional channels, such as printed newsletters. They also used the Seesaw app to share student work samples with parents in a collaborative way.
In preparation for developing the school plan, Wadalba Community School established a School Self Evaluation Committee with parents. The school collected a wide range of data, reviewed policies and made decisions with parents. Several engagement and consultation initiatives were begun, such as cuppa and cake meetings each term to discuss topics of interest identified by parents.
Tanilba Bay Public School focused on reviewing and updating communication strategies. Playground duties were reviewed, for instance, to ensure that a teacher was always available at the school gates before and after school. Transition programs were reviewed and resulted in vulnerable students in Kindergarten and Year 5 being identified and supported proactively.
Technology Connecting Communities
Callaghan College Wallsend Campus (CCWC) caters for 1105 Year 7-10 students, including 12% of students who identify as Aboriginal.
The school established a range of strategies for information sharing via a strong digital footprint. This allowed for all school and community communication to be easily accessed by students, parents and the wider community. The school then embarked on a wide consultation process to develop the school’s values and vision and continued with policy reviews, all conducted using the school's digital platforms.
The culmination of the consultation process was a school planning day at which parent, student, staff and Aboriginal Educational Consultative Group Inc. (AECG) representatives worked together. Parental use of the school app and other digital communications has grown from negligible to more than 60% of families using these forms of communication over the past two years. School consultation is a continuous process using the school’s range of media channels.