Participation strategies for schools

NEA Priority Schools - Kim Oliver Burnim

NEA Priority Schools – Kim Oliver Burnim

Kim Oliver Burnim shares strategies used by Broad Acres Elementary School to increase parent participation in the work of the school (FLV, 1:51 mins). Click through to Youtube to learn more about NEA Priority Schools.

  • Load events, meetings and assessment calendars on the school website at the start of each term, semester or year.
  • Develop a database of parent and community skills, talents and availability to draw on when required.
  • Engage community members in designing and promoting learning experiences, school events and extracurricular activities.
  • Invite parents and community members to become involved as guest teachers and speakers.
  • Regularly build parent engagement into staff meetings to strengthen commitment, knowledge and skills.
  • To reach parents and community members, select modes of communication familiar to them, including where appropriate, online and social media. Provide support to school staff and parent/community leaders to ensure effective and appropriate use of different media. See online resources for more information about selecting and using online media and spaces.
  • Consider establishing physical or virtual spaces dedicated to parent collaboration such as a parent's room or online parent's network. A school-community liaison officer could support and mentor parents in the appropriate use of the space to ensure an inclusive and supportive culture and atmosphere.
  • Work with student leaders to develop opportunities for students to promote more widespread and sustained parent and community participation.
  • Build parent and community participation in school activities in ways that are appropriate for supporting children of different ages and stages of development. For example:

Prep-2

Take steps to make parents and community members feel welcome at school assemblies - especially parents new to the school community.

Provide explicit opportunities to open classrooms so parents can see contemporary learning in action.

Develop activities that include family members who may not otherwise get to share in students learning experiences (e.g. Grandparents Day, siblings and cousins).

Years 3-6

Seek and draw upon special expertise of parents and community members to support emerging areas of student interest and need (e.g. literacy, numeracy, science, health and physical education).

Work with student leaders to develop opportunities for students to promote more widespread and sustained parent and community participation.

Years 7-9

Work with parent leaders to explore ways to increase parent participation in school operations (e.g. sports days, tuckshop/uniform/bookstore).

Work with student leaders to devise forms of parental participation that are meaningful but respectful of adolescents' growing need for independence.

Years 10-12

Identify and enlist parents with the skills to support specialised school activities such as school plays, science expos, sports days, etc.

Develop a survey (e.g. through Survey Monkey) to build a profile of parents and community organisations who can support school-work transitions such as internships, work experience and professional mentoring.

Specific strategies to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

  • Build parent, caregiver and community participation by offering activities, events and roles that are respectful and meaningful. Opportunities for community members to volunteer should respect and value cultural knowledge, obligations and protocols.
  • Seek advice from the community about the kind of school events and activities they value. Some communities may prefer more informal gatherings and opportunities to network with school staff rather than formal ceremonies, particularly early in the engagement process.
  • Respect the importance of place to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and seek advice about the best location for some school activities - it may not always be in the school grounds. Look for ways of bringing the operations of the school beyond the school gates.
  • Respect the role of Elders and senior members of the community, particularly for cultural celebrations (e.g. NAIDOC week).
  • Arrange activities that respect and acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture by avoiding tokenism or peripheral roles for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or their culture. Promote an attitude among staff and students (especially in schools where non-Indigenous cultures are dominant) that failing to respect and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is to weaken the culture of all Australians.
  • Consult key staff for advice on engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents, carers and communities, such as Regional Community Education Counsellors, school based Community Education Counsellors (CECs) or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teacher Aides.
Last reviewed
14 December 2015
Last updated
14 December 2015

Creative Commons Licence - Attribution-NonCommercial CC BY-NC

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