The Catholic Education Office Melbourne’s (CEOM) Wellbeing & Community Partnerships Staff Group continued to highlight its commitment ‘to increase the active engagement of parents in their child’s learning’ through several key initiatives designed to build and strengthen links with parents and the local community that promote student wellbeing and improve learning outcomes.
The CEOM’s Family–School Partnerships initiative has been a lead contributor in the implementation of this goal. The partnerships work led by the Wellbeing & Community Partnerships Group has supported the ‘development of Catholic schools as core community centres’. This whole-school approach to wellbeing provides a framework for the engagement of the school and the broader community.
This work focuses on:
In 2013 the Wellbeing & Community Partnerships Staff Group developed the Parent Engagement in Action resource to support school leaders through a process of reflection and evaluation, focusing on parental engagement across four key areas: Relationships, Learning, Leadership, and Reflection. The resource was launched 30 October 2013.
Launch of the Parent Engagement in Action resource
The CEOM hosted the innovate. create. relate. Conference in November 2013. Over 350 participants explored key concepts and issues associated with leading and managing educational innovation as a means of enhancing student wellbeing, community partnerships and successful learning outcomes for all.
The innovate. create. relate. Conference at the Catholic Leadership Centre
In an inspiring masterclass workshop on ‘Connecting Parents and School via Social Media’ for school leaders and CEOM staff, Dr Joe Mazza, University of Pennsylvania, challenged participants to use social media to deepen the way we welcome, invite and collaborate with families. He affirmed that central to family engagement is building relationships. The masterclass was presented in association with the innovate. create. relate. Conference and the International Speaker Series.
The Australian Catholic University–CEOM Smarter Schools National Partnerships: Partnerships in Learning (PiL) Initiative developed resources for pre-service teachers and schools to maximise the pre-service experience by helping them to work together more effectively with families and communities as partners in children’s learning.
The Wellbeing & Community Partnerships Staff Group continued to support and facilitate six Schools as Core Community Centres (SACSC) clusters of schools focusing on school–community partnerships. A social Inclusion cluster of five schools across Northern and Western regions was formed.
the Learning Together DVD and support materialsthe Family–School Partnership statement animationthe Parent Engagement in Action Resourcethe Good Practice into Common Practice reportthe ACU Evaluation Report and the Shaping the Future report
Michele SampsonFamily School Partnership ConvenorYarra Cluster – Trinity Catholic School, Richmond North; Sacred Heart School, Fitzroy; and St Joseph's School, Collingwood
Partnerships between families, community and schools are key to enhancing student learning. I have experienced this firsthand, spending four years working with a cluster of three inner city schools to help them build and maintain their partnerships.
When schools actively reach out to parents as partners in their child’s learning, conversations start to happen, and the flow-on effect can bring amazing results. A particular example of how one school’s family partnership influenced three other schools was through a series of conversations called Talking Circles. It involved teachers and parents conversing about the language of schooling and what parents could do at home to help their child’s learning. The parents led the conversation based on what they needed to know. Some who hadn’t been visible before relished the opportunity to be a part of these conversations, and the results included better relationships, more understanding between parents and children about their learning, and a much more informed parent voice in the schools.
A school that expanded their notion of partnership, and what it meant to be an ‘outward-facing school’, was Sacred Heart School, Fitzroy. I helped them take the lead in organising a UK study tour to find new ways to drive family engagement in student learning. We didn’t want it to be coming just from an educators perspective, so we asked a group of community agencies working as the Atherton Garden Network (which the school was also part of) to join us on the tour and provide the lens of how a community can collaborate to drive improved outcomes for children. Seeing how another international system operated gave us great ideas to bring back and, very importantly, showed us how schools that approached their education from the local context could enhance learning.
Participants of the ‘Learning Better Together’ Santa Fe Study Tour
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