Facilitating school-parent-community partnerships throughout Tasmania

Year: 2016

Author: Barnes, Robin, Kilpatrick, Sue, Stratford, Elaine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Tasmania has poor educational attainment. Transition from year 10 to 11/12 lags well behind mainland Australia. In communities where educational attainment is particularity low, many parents have limited and poor educational experience, and while they 'want the best' for their child, are hesitant to engage with schools. This is particularly true as their child exceeds their own educational level. In addition, school leaders are not necessarily skilled at engaging parents and community. There is a need to assist school leaders to develop overarching parent-community engagement partnership plans, as well as strategies and toolkits of activities to engage parents in their children's education and demonstrate that their contributions are valued. This project captures the recent groundswell of community enthusiasm in Tasmania to assist schools raise educational attainment. It will deliver workshops and mentor school leaders to develop and implement school-parent-community partnerships. Using an applied, action-learning, three-stage process, this project provides school leaders with the skills they need to engage parents in their children's educational process and demonstrate to parents that they are valued partners. The first stage will engage school leaders from communities with low educational attainment, through state-wide workshops. In the second stage, selected school leadership teams from communities in more challenging parental engagement circumstances will be mentored by the project team. The third stage will showcase to Tasmanian school leaders and communities the knowledge gained in the project, through presentations to schools and community groups, professional development activities, and a website.The stage one workshops were designed to:1. Showcase successful Tasmanian and external examples of school-community partnerships embracing parental engagement strategies.2. Brainstorm key features that made these successful, and how those features could be applied in participants’ schools and communities. 3. Draft school-community partnership plans and parental engagement strategies to take back to their schools, parents and their communities.The project is currently in stage two of the project and here we present evaluation and workshop results from stage one, features of the schools selected for stage 2 and the progress made to date.