Engaging culturally and linguistically diverse communities
In diverse school communities, embracing varied communication preferences is crucial for effectively supporting in their child’s learning journey.
Condell Park Public School
In an area with a high degree of Arabic speaking families, Condell Park Public School found that helping parents understand their children’s learning has benefits for all.
Condell Park Public School is near Bankstown in south west Sydney. It has 566 students, of whom 86% have a language background other than English.
Sharing teaching practice with parents pays off
After identifying the need to build the capacity of families in supporting literacy and numeracy development of their children, principal Sian Websdale shifted from parent participation in barbecues to engagement in methodologies to support student learning.
After attending a Harvard workshop and applying a learning ecosystem approach, Mrs Websdale and her team began engaging with parents and carers on specific focus areas, including sharing student data to show the impact of supporting learning.
Families attended capacity-building sessions, where parents and carers received resources and support to enable them to assist student learning at home.
Ongoing support is delivered through instructional videos posted online, check-ins through home/school applications and face to face meetings.
Results are broad
The program has seen a marked improvements in English and maths, with children whose parents attended the workshops showing significantly better results than children whose parents haven’t attended in areas such as letter sound knowledge and number sequencing.
However, unexpected results have also included stronger relationships between children, parents and the teachers.
“Parent engagement benefits everyone. One parent told me that they are learning so much and are confident in knowing what to do at home.
“We’ve also found that parents are able to apply their new skills to help their younger children as well,” said Mrs Websdale.
The school began this approach in 2021 with Kindergarten families, and is progressively applying it to other cohorts with an aim that this becomes standard practice at the school for all year levels.
“We hope to build an expectation that we will run these sessions and that parents will come,” said Ms Websdale.
With a tenfold increase in the number of parents engaging with the school, that expectation is not unrealistic.
Originally published: 26-Sep-2022