Strong consultation processes
Schools with effective community engagement provide a broad range of flexible opportunities to engage, inform and consult with parents, carers and relevant community members. Traditional models of communication with the Parents and Citizens Association (P&C) are one of many diverse modes of consulting with the full range of parent and carer groups in schools today.
- provide a range of methods for parents to be part of the consultation process
- Support staff to complete relevant professional learning
- survey parents about logistical arrangements and methods for consultation
- remove barriers to parent engagement, e.g. include childcare, interpreters and catering for community meetings
- initiate innovative school events to showcase student learning and involve the wider learning community
- focus on community learning and developing parent leadership capacity.
What they said
"If you are going to engage in community consultation you really have to empower all aspects of the community with enough information, understanding and collective voice to engage in the process effectively. It is really about an ongoing conversation. It is not a one-off process." Principal, Islington Public School
"One of the best things about Para Meadows School is the connections formed between students, staff and the wider community. There are opportunities for community members who are involved in school activities to gain pleasure, experience and a greater understanding of student needs." Parent, Para Meadows School
"Writing the vision statement as a group and deciding on future actions have given us all a feeling of empowerment and, as a result, we have confidence in where the school is headed." Parent, Ringrose Public School
How they did it
Smithfield Public School employed three key staff members to facilitate consultation with its diverse community. This included a community liaison officer and two bilingual school learning support officers.
Toormina High School hosted informal ‘yarn ups’ with the local Aboriginal community to encourage participation in school decision making. Local Aboriginal Elders were consulted formally at the twice yearly ‘yarn ups’ and informally through conversation with school leaders and teachers.
Halinda School used the large parent and community attendance at the school’s multicultural day to seek opinions and feedback. The leadership team prepared questions for members of the community regarding the school culture and priority targets for the following year.
Our families, our school
Many of the Aboriginal students at Bermagui Public School, on the NSW South Coast, can trace their ancestors back to families living in the area before European settlement. The school team committed to ensuring that all students learn about the history of Aboriginal people in the area.
The employment of an Aboriginal Education Officer (AEO) and a close relationship with the local AECG have had a significant role in establishing connections to country for the school community.
Changes were made to meeting venues and times to ensure families felt welcome and comfortable. Positive, proactive communication with families was significantly increased. The AEO and the principal often visit families in their homes and a special annual newsletter, Yuin Yarnin, with photos of all the Aboriginal students and stories that highlight their achievements during the year is welcomed by the whole community.