This key dimension emphasises that effective communication:
- is active, personal, frequent and culturally appropriate;
- is where schools go out of their way to make families feel welcome and valued;
- is a two-way exchange between families and schools;
- involves not only an exchange of information, but also an opportunity for schools and families to learn about each other;
- makes clear that families are genuine partners and can help solve big problems;
- builds bridges across cultural and language divides including actively seeking access to these families;
- needs to take into account cultural and linguistic diversity and not assume that all families communicate in the same way;
- is open to families’ needs and attitudes;
- acknowledges and celebrates the families’ input;
- is multi-dimensional – it may:
- be formal or informal,
- happen in different places (both in the school and in other sites such as community centres), and
- use different methods (oral, written, face-to-face, phone, email, etc).
Family-school communication needs to be taken seriously and must be valued, recognised, and rewarded by schools and education systems. It is essential to provide teachers and school leaders with education and training programs to prepare them to communicate effectively with families in an approachable manner. It is equally important to empower and encourage families to communicate effectively with schools.
Collaborating Beyond The School
This key dimension emphasises identifying, locating and integrating community resources. The wider community provides services which can strengthen and support schools, students and their families. Schools, families and students can assist the community in return. Schools are increasingly collaborating with partners such as:
- local businesses;
- after-school care providers;
- higher education;
- foundations; and
- other community-based agencies.
Building Community And Identity
This key dimension emphasises activities that improve the quality of life in a community while honouring the culture, traditions, values and relationships in that community. By including activities that shape students’ sense of identity and culture, schools can build a sense of community in each student. The work of schools includes aspects of the social, emotional, moral and spiritual development of young people. Thus schools have a role to play in promoting both personal growth and cultural renewal. Schools can act as a focal point for communities to come together and engage in capacity-building.
7 Key Dimensions of Family School Partnerships
The seven dimensions identified as guidelines for planning Family-School Partnerships activities are:
connecting learning at home and at school;
building community and identity;
recognising the role of the family;
collaborating beyond the school; and
Recognising The Role Of The Family
This key dimension emphasises that as primary educators of their children, parents and families have a lasting influence on their children’s attitudes and achievements at school. They can encourage their children’s learning in and out of school and are also in a position to support school goals, directions and ethos. Parents look to schools to provide secure and caring environments for their children.
Families and schools can reach mutual understanding of each other’s roles and priorities in partnerships by:
- exploring the nature of parent and family’s role in the education of children to develop mutual understanding;
- offering strategies for family support and encouragement of children’s learning at school; • organising workshops/discussions/meetings and demonstrations around areas such as literacy and numeracy, home and classroom work, raising resilience and confidence in young people, transitions and careers and so on, depending on local needs and priorities;
- ensuring families understand school goals, curriculum and the social objectives of schooling;
- ensuring schools understand family, parent and community priorities;
- ensuring schools are sensitive to parents’ sensibilities;
- ensuring schools are realistic, patient and brave;
- establishing an environment where schools show leadership which is visible and available;
- helping schools become a place that parents can call their own including creating real roles for parents who come into the school;
- building relationships; and
- developing skills, such as communication, collaboration and conflict management.
Connecting Learning At Home And At School
This key dimension emphasises:
- understanding by families and schools of the overlap between the home and school environments;
- the connection between successful partnerships and the child’s learning, including the importance of high expectations from both teachers and parents to the child’s success at school;
- families and schools working together to create positive attitudes to learning in each child;
- ensuring families are informed about and understand their child’s progress;
- families and schools valuing and using the skills and knowledge children bring both from the home to the school and from the school to the home;
- families and schools recognising and using learning opportunities in the home environment;
- parents working with teachers in the educational decision-making process for their individual child; and
- schools becoming a venue and agent for parental self-growth, learning and the development of new skills.
This key dimension emphasises that parents are entitled to be consulted and participate in decisions concerning their own children.
Parents can play meaningful roles in the school decision-making processes. Training and information to make the most of those opportunities can be provided as part of the partnership activities.
An inclusive approach to school decision-making and parental involvement creates a sense of shared responsibility among parents, community members, teachers and school leaders. In turn, shared responsibility:
- ensures that parents’ values and interests are heard and respected;
- makes the school more accountable to its community;
- ensures that the values and opinions of families are sought outside the formal school structures; and
- ensures that contact with Indigenous parents from within the community is sought to ensure their engagement in school decision making.
This key dimension emphasises that families’ time, energy and expertise can support learning and school programs in many ways. This may involve family members:
- working with students on learning activities in classrooms;
- participating in other school activities outside the classroom; or
- participating in activities outside the school itself; and
- supporting and valuing teachers.
Families participate in the school in a wide variety of ways and all contributions are valuable. Participation may involve families having the opportunity to do something that interests them and including activities that are not directly education-related.