Parents are the first teachers of their  children, Their role must be recognised, respected and incorporated in the governance of schools and delivery of education

Dodson 2010

What are Family-School & Community Partnerships

What Are Family-School Partnerships?

Family-school partnerships are collaborative relationships and activities involving school staff, parents and other family members of students at a school. Effective partnerships are based on mutual trust and respect, and shared responsibility for the education of the children and young people at the school.

Why Are Family-School Partnerships Important?

Families are the first educators of their children and they continue to influence their children’s learning and development during the school years and long afterwards. Schools have an important responsibility in helping to nurture and teach future generations and families trust schools to provide educational foundations for their children’s future. At the same time, schools need to recognise the primary role of the family in education. This is why it is important for families and schools to work together in partnership.

Research demonstrates that effective schools have high levels of parental and community involvement. This involvement is strongly related to improved student learning, attendance and behaviour. Family involvement can have a major impact on student learning, regardless of the social or cultural background of the family.

Family involvement in schools is therefore central to high quality education and is part of the core business of schools.

The aim of the Family-School & Community Partnerships Bureau is to encourage sustainable and effective partnerships between all members of the school community, including teachers, families, and students.

These partnerships should:

  • view each partner as making equally valuable contributions, while respecting different contributions;
  • respect student needs and preferences;
  • address barriers to involvement in schools by families, in particular Indigenous families, and actively help previously uninvolved families to become involved;
  • create better programs, opportunities and learning for students;
  • give families appropriate opportunities to contribute to school decision-making and governance; and
    contribute to professional satisfaction for principals and teachers.

Developing family-school partnerships may not always be easy. It requires commitment and time. Because of pressures and circumstances, many families will need special arrangements, or extra support, to enable them to become actively involved in their children’s school lives, and to help their children get the most from school.

The results of this effort will be significant. Families that understand the education system and the difficulties schools face are a valuable source of support which schools cannot afford to underestimate. Schools that engage families in their children’s learning are tapping in to a rich source of information and expertise and can help build communities.

How Is This Different From What Every School Does Already?

Schools vary considerably in their commitment to family-school partnerships and the energy and skills they apply to them.

Moving towards partnerships requires a significant change in attitudes by some schools and families in order to create relationships where they see one another as allies in education.