Building engagement into the planning cycle
Your school will undertake a wide range of activities to develop and strengthen partnerships with the school community.
Activities for each stage of the cycle
Consider the following activities that could assist you in engaging the community, at each stage of the School Excellence cycle.
- Identify established community engagement practices and collaborative community initiatives that seek input from your students, school staff, parents and carers, and the broader community.
- Evaluate the success of your current practices.
- Identify your community's expertise, knowledge and experience that may provide opportunities to meet the diverse linguistic, cultural and socio-economic needs of the student body.
- Actively seek your community's input, through the use of interpreters if necessary, to understand current and emerging issues, providing all of your families with an opportunity to have a voice in decisions that affect their child’s learning.
- Consult with the community on the developed situational analysis to inform your strategic directions.
- Consult with community stakeholders to create a vision statement that describes your shared values and high-level aspirations for school improvement.
- Consult with community stakeholders to create a context statement that clearly reflects the current educational, social and geographical landscape of your school.
- Embed the importance of developing effective and mutually supportive partnerships with the community to promote student learning in achieving your system-negotiated targets and other improvement measures.
- Include practical ways to engage and welcome parents and carers in initiatives that are focused on student wellbeing, learning, growth and attainment.
- Involve community stakeholders in the decision-making process.
- Identify the capabilities of your teaching and non-teaching staff that are required to achieve positive community engagement, and plan for professional development accordingly.
- Collaborate with the local community, where appropriate, on decisions about accessing school or community assets and resources that will deliver improved initiatives for students, within the parameters of our policies and procedures.
- Build formal and informal systems that facilitate collaborative, respectful communication with your local community.
- Share information with the community about key learning focus areas and expectations for different learning stages.
- Regularly and effectively communicate the school’s key improvement initiatives through accessible communications channels.
- Provide timely, flexible and accessible opportunities for the school community to offer feedback, thereby including your community in the school’s ongoing reflective and evaluative practice.
- Respond to feedback with ongoing support when required, for example, by providing information, developing plans, facilitating workshops or liaising with or referring to community-based agencies.
- Utilise community resources to welcome and communicate with parents from diverse backgrounds, ensuring that participation is accessible for all parents within your school.
- Support all school staff to take a proactive approach to developing collaborative, respectful and constructive relationships with the community.
- Seek parent and community feedback for inclusion in the school’s annual review of your progress and improvement measures.
- Collate and reflect on the evidence of community engagement collected throughout the year.
- Utilise tools and processes for teachers and families to collaborate on the review of personalised learning plans for students.
Resources for authentic community engagement
The following resources can assist in building authentic community engagement.
- The Communication and engagement (C&E) team supports and builds the capacity of school leaders to achieve their communication, relationship building and community engagement objectives. Training for all school staff is available to support schools establish clear communication channels to improve engagement with parents and the community, boost staff morale and create a positive image in the community.
- Community consultation includes practical strategies and best practice examples to help school leaders engage families and the community in decision-making processes and in school life, as well as offering links to resources and case studies.
- The School Community Charter outlines the responsibilities of parents, carers, educators and school staff, in NSW public schools, to ensure our learning environments are collaborative, supportive and cohesive. By regularly promoting this resource and engaging with it - for example, in forums, in meetings, on displays and in newsletters - expectations within your school can be made clear.
- The Australian Government's School assessment tool provides advice to school leaders on how to both analyse and plan for the key dimensions of effective community engagement. This tool aligns with the 7 key dimensions of effective practice identified by the Family-School Partnerships Framework.
Policy contexts for community consultation
Community engagement is embedded in the fabric of school life, and the resources available in the community can enrich your students’ learning experiences and improve their learning outcomes.
Consequently, many department policies have aspects of community engagement embedded within them. The following list of policies is not exhaustive but may assist schools in identifying key policies that will affect the practicalities of engaging with your community.
Connecting to and engaging with the community relies on your understanding of its complexity. These policies can assist you and your staff to connect with the diversity within the community, ensuring that all voices are heard.
- Aboriginal Education Policy
- Connected Communities Strategy
- Anti-Racism Policy
- Controversial Issues in Schools
- Multicultural Education Policy
- Religious Education Policy.
Students are at the centre of all schools, and the contributions of all members of your school community can affect and shape not only student wellbeing, but aspects of learning, teaching and leading at your school.
While the School Community Charter clearly and briefly presents the high expectations for engagement between your school and community, the following documents provide clear policy direction at a detailed level.
Find out more about School Excellence in Action.