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A possible process

Once you have gathered information from your school community, consider the process you might use to act on the findings. Here is a possible approach:

  • Develop a vision for community engagement at your school, in consultation with the whole school community.
  • Make decisions: identify priorities and develop an action plan.
  • Plan for a flexible and sustainable approach through continuous self-review, including thinking about 'where to next'.

Develop a vision

Think about a wide variety of possible approaches, activities, and venues that will suit your community members. Ideas for the vision could come from:

The vision for community engagement will connect to the school vision. How can you ensure that everyone in your community feels a sense of ownership for the wider school vision and for the community engagement vision? How will you communicate this vision?

… with effective assistance, parents can promote achievement of valued student outcomes in ways that support and resource the work of the school.

Robinson, Hohepa, and Lloyd, 2009, page 150

Make decisions 

Identifying priorities

When you have established your school’s current needs and created your vision, a next step could be to identify the gaps between what you want and what you’ve got.

Think about ways you can involve the school community in identifying priorities for action.

It may be that the results of the data gathering will reveal that the school’s community partnerships are already in good shape and do not need a special focus at this stage. You could then decide to put your resources into improving some other aspect of your practice. Take the time to record the strengths you have identified in your current partnerships and to think about “where to next?”, so that you can sustain and build on this strong relationship.

Developing an action plan

As a result of your investigations, you may decide some of the following changes are part of your plan:

  • designing and reviewing the school curriculum to best meet the needs of the students and community and to be inclusive and culturally relevant
  • enrolment procedures
  • different approaches to engaging parents, whānau and the community in children's learning
  • setting homework and seeking support for the homework programme
  • your approach to parent–teacher meetings
  • reporting processes
  • fundraising activities involving the community
  • accessing resources or information from parents and the community or creating them together.

Plan for a flexible and sustainable approach

Monitor the results of the changes and celebrate your successes.

The New Zealand Curriculum’s teaching as inquiry approach can be adapted by schools planning to develop their community engagement. Just as teachers do, you can ask these questions:

  • What is important and worth spending time on, given where our partnership is at?
  • What strategies are most likely to help us make the changes we want to make?
  • What happened as a result of using these strategies, and what are the implications for the next steps in our partnership?

Listen to parents’ responses and gather data on an ongoing basis to monitor the results and guide future planning.

 … moving from enhanced relationships through to partnerships takes time … and needs ongoing input from within and outside the school community

Fisher and Neill, 2008, page 172

Published on: 07 Oct 2015