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Developing community engagement

Cheryl Doig presents Selling, Telling, Compelling: Developing community engagement in curriculum at the Learning@School Conference in Rotorua in February 2009.

Video duration: 1 hour 2 minutes

Cheryl mentions many websites during this presentation, the links are below:

Family friendly schools
Think beyond - Cheryl's website
Aranui leadership programme
Dave Eggers Ted Talk
Albany High School
Fendalton Open Air School
City of Charles Sturt community engagement model
Knowledge cafe
Survey Monkey
Voice Thread

Presentation summary

It is hard to engage with the community. It is difficult to get the community to turn up. Is there anyone out there?

A human rights activist from Zimbabwe who now lives in New Zealand tells the story of a group of people who tried to make a difference in a small village in Zimbabwe. They saw that the women walked for a long time to get water. They had the idea to put a well in to save the women traveling for miles to get their water. They came back the following year to find the well was not being used much. When they asked the women why, they replied, "No one asked us if we wanted it there. The only time we have to ourselves away from the men and the children is when we are walking to and from gathering our water."

We have a new curriculum but do we have a new paradigm? Isn't it time we looked at doing things differently? Isn't this a great time to do that when the new curriculum gives us the permission some would seek?

Some teachers perceive parental involvement as getting the children ready for school. Family involvement is usually prescribed by the school and parents have rarely been invited to contribute in ways that involve partnership."We want parents to be involved but it is under our terms."

The new curriculum gives the flexibility to devise your own school curriculum. Each of you have a different community, history and staff in your school. What are the special things about your school that are going to go in your curriculum? How are you going to get the full engagement of those people who are involved?

Think about your school environment as it is now. What is the culture that helps develop the way that you work in your place? This is the foundation of your curriculum. What is the culture in your school and what is its effect on community engagement? If you talked to your community would there be an alignment between what you think and what they say?

Phase one:
Leading participation in the design and review of the school's curriculum.

Phase two:
Developing processes for involvement and feedback that can be sustained in the longer term.

Reduce the chances of misinterpretations and misunderstandings. The best of what parents and teachers have to offer to students, to each other, and to their school community will not be fully realized until they learn to talk to each other... until they 'learn each other.'

Dr Steven Constantino - Engaging all families

Five levels of engagement

Community engagement is any process that involves the public in problem-solving or decision making and uses the public input to make more informed decisions ... Engaging the community is more than just consulting ... [it] includes informing, consulting with, involving, collaborating with, and empowering the community.

Draft community engagement model for the City of Charles Sturt


  •  A one way relationship of telling
  •  The school delivers information
  •  Two types:
    •  Passive - information that community can get from you on demand
    •  Active - the school is proactive in disseminating information to the community
  •  I'll decide - the school has the control


  •  A two way relationship - selling
  •  The community provides feedback to the school
  •  The school decides what it wants feedback on, gives information and receives information back from the community
  •  We'll discuss, I'll decide - the school still has the control


  •  Community actively involved in the design of the school curriculum from the beginning
  •  Developing something new together
  •  We'll discuss - I'll decide


  •  A relationship based on partnership with the school
  •  Working together to find solutions
  •  We'll discuss and we'll decide


  •  A relationship based on trust between the school and community members
  •  Community provided with skills, information, authority and resources
  •  Community actively engaged in the design of the school curriculum
  •  We'll discuss and you decide

Published on: 29 Apr 2009