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Katrina PowellTeacher St Gabriel's School, Reservoir.Katrina was part of the Community Classrooms program in 2014.
As a classroom teacher in a small school with a strong community, I’ve learnt a lot about partnership in education in the past year. Most of what I’ve learnt hasn’t come from a manual or a guide book and I haven’t used Google once in my search to discover what good partnerships look like. Instead, I’ve been open to learning and giving things a go.
I’ve learnt from my own experiences, good and bad, like failing to initially realise the importance of a parent approaching me with questions about their child. I’ve learnt from others who have been in this business for longer than I and ‘borrowed’ some ideas along the way!
But most of all, I’ve learnt from those I should be in partnership with – the children I teach and their families. I now approach partnership in a way that means each child, their families, myself and my school have an equal share in the learning experience.
Last year my class and I, together with their families, learnt how to make a video clip about superheroes. This year I’ve had parents coming into the classroom suggesting activities and ways of learning for the children. Others might feel intimidated by this, after all, aren’t we supposed to be the teachers?
Personally, I’m grateful for the help, the inspiration and the support. And I’ve seen changes in the students too – they are more willing to share their own ideas and reflections on their learning, because they know that it’s a journey we’re all in together!
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Wellbeing and Community Partnerships
are a significant education strategy for all Catholic schools. The Wellbeing &
Community Partnerships (W&CP) Unit continues to lead and support partnerships
within school communities, between schools and across the CEOM, to improve
learning and wellbeing outcomes for all children and young people. The Family–School
Partnerships initiative was the main driver of this work, connecting and
building upon key initiatives to increase the active engagement of parents in
their children’s learning and to develop schools as core community centres.
partnerships between families, schools and communities centred on:
Seventy-eight schools worked together
in Family–School Partnerships (FSP) and Schools as Core Social Centres clusters to
improve student outcomes by building and strengthening links with parents and
the local community. In 2014 a new co-contribution model supported the
leadership of FSP clusters through the local employment of eight Cluster
Engagement Leaders. An additional network of nine secondary schools across the
Northern and Western regions actively engaged in learning together and to
develop and share effective practices for family and community engagement.
FSP Advisory Group
School leaders are a vital voice in the
leadership of family, school and community partnerships across Catholic
education. In 2014, there were 10 principal representatives who partnered with
the CEOM – through the FSP Advisory Group – to create a framework that would guide
strategic actions in schools, between schools and across the CEOM. The framework centred
on four themes, to:
Parent Voice Project
As part of the Sacred Landscape renewal project, parents from Catholic schools advice
engaged in a series of animated community conversations to explore what
learning and teaching looks like for their children in a Catholic context. This
partnership between the W&CP and Learning & Teaching teams provided
families with an authentic voice to share their beliefs, aspirations and
expectations for learning now and into the future.
Thirty-five teachers from 17 schools
developed and shared a range of practical strategies for family engagement
through intensive professional learning and participation. Participants engaged
in a 12-month program of peer-to-peer learning, joint practice development,
action research and reflective practice.
Teacher participant feedback: ‘The biggest
impact is my own shift in how I think about parent engagement in learning. It’s
always on my mind now when I’m planning.’
Parent Engagement in Action
Over 190 school and system leaders
engaged in professional learning opportunities to support the implementation of
the Parent Engagement in Action resource
across Catholic education. The resource provides a practical guide and toolkit
for schools to work through a process of reflection and evaluation for school
improvement, focusing on parental engagement across four key areas:
Relationships, Learning, Leadership and Reflection.
feedback: ‘Family engagement in learning leads to increases in learning outcomes
so cannot be overlooked as a learning leader.’
‘Having all curricular areas talking the same way and emphasising the
same issues in regard to their specific area makes a significant difference,
helping everyone from the CEOM, schools and school communities to be on the
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