Highly effective schools have high levels of family and community engagement. Educational researchers consistently advocate the benefits of partnerships between schools, families and communities as a way of improving outcomes for children and young people. In the first evaluation of the NAB Schools First Awards, ACER argues that effective schools and stimulating and developing children and young people’s ability to learn and understand is the responsibility of the whole community - families, business, local government, further education providers and community organisations1.
According to the 2012 Mid-Year Supplementary Census Data of all Victorian Government schools 62% self-reported that they engaged in a community partnership. Most of these partnerships are either with community organisations, neighbouring schools or local government, with the aim of improving student wellbeing and engagement and student retention and transition.
A small group of schools are investigating less traditional school-community partnerships and are using partnerships to explore opportunities for staff professional development, mentoring or addressing declining enrolment numbers. This has been demonstrated by a relationship between Cadbury Schweppes and Newport Lakes Primary School. Through a series of meetings between the principal, the Cadbury Schweppes finance director and school council an agreement was forged to use the relationship to promote the school to its local community, build its profile and increase enrolments. Success has resulted in the school and company continuing their partnership and a range of other projects have evolved as a result.
Charles Leadbeater and other prominent educationalist have shown formal education is only one place where learning occurs - 70% of a student’s waking hours are spent away from school. Children’s learning trajectory begins in their home, with their family and community and once children are attending school, formal education is only one factor that influences the learning, development and health outcomes of children and young people. Families play a critical role in providing learning opportunities at home and in linking what children learn at school with what happens elsewhere2.
Acknowledging this research The
201 Literacy and Maths Tips to Help Your Child booklet was developed by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. The booklet provides handy hints and ways parents and carers can help their child develop literacy and maths skills. It provides practical activities for you do with your child at home and questions you can ask your child to help them learn.
To meet the demands and expectations of equipping students for the 21st Century, schools are expected to educate young people on a wide breadth of topics. Schools cannot be expected to do this alone. Communities can have a major impact on the outcomes of children and young people. Children and young people have performed better where schools have utilised the variety of networks, organisations and resources available in the community.
Schools can find online resources and tools to create, maintaining and growing partnerships between families and the community at
Education Partnership Resource. The Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership has a comprehensive course that equips leaders with skills required to lead their school communities,
1. Simons, Robert, "First interim report of Schools First: Evaluation of the 2009 awards" (2010).
Analysis and Program Evaluation
2. Leadbeater, C and Wong, A 2010,
Learning from the Extremes,
Cisco Systems Inc., California
(accessed 7 February 2012).