Engaging Parents, Engaging Communities, Engaging Schools: The Parent Engagement Project

Nicoli Barnes, Sue Shore, Rachel Mayhead, Gary Fry, Leigh Disney, Anne Hampshire

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report - ERA-eligiblepeer-review

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    Abstract

    The Smith Family’s (TSF) Parent Engagement Project has been operating in selected schools in Darwin and Palmerston since 2011 with funding provided through the Commonwealth Government’s Parent and Community Engagement Program. The Parent Engagement Project has developed a range of activities and events using the input of schools, parents and community members, designed to build the capacity of parents to effectively support their children’s education. The project is based on both international and national evidence that assisting children and students within the formal education system need to be accompanied by developing their parents’ capacity to provide a supportive home environment. It uses a place-based responsive approach to making sure each child and parent can access the support they need to be fully engaged with educational contexts and their children’s learning. TSF’s program has also built upon the relationships of trust already developed with school communities since 2007, through TSF’s ‘School at the Centre’ model. This program sought to develop long term ‘friendships’ with schools to address the barriers in each community to children achieving a world class education. The model leveraged the considerable assets in the community (people, other organisations, programs and funds) to build on the schools resources. At the request of TSF, researchers at Charles Darwin University (CDU) conducted a evaluation of the program drawing on two school sites and the perceptions of parents and staff in those programs. The aim was to explore, from the perspective of parents and staff, the principles and conditions required for parental engagement in children and young people’s education. In summary we found that the Parent Engagement Project initiative was driven as much by the community and parents through their connections with their local schools, as it was by schools and TSF. The TSF’s ability to act effectively in the background was paramount, TSF became an invisible net that supported the work done in schools and allowed responsibility for engagement to be taken by the schools and parents with whom they were working.

    We identified six key principles and four key conditions all of which are essential for
    strengthened parent engagement:

    Principles for Parent Engagement in their Children’s Education
    1. Parent Principle 1: Help me to help my child
    2. Parent Principle 2: Know my child and their pathway through education
    3. School Principle 1: Children/young people and their parents are ‘significant’
    4. School Principle 2: Schools are places of help and support
    5. The Smith Family Principle 1: Being the (almost) invisible partner
    6. The Smith Family Principle 2: Overcoming barriers to participation

    Conditions for Parent Engagement in their Children’s Education
    1. Condition 1: Open and accessible schools
    2. Condition 2: Access to specialised people
    3. Condition 3: Subtle implementation of relevant programs
    4. Condition 4: Creating parent engagement and opportunity

    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationDarwin
    PublisherCharles Darwin University
    Commissioning bodyThe Smith Family
    Number of pages52
    ISBN (Electronic)9780646956404
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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