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School partnerships self-audit tool

How do you gather and analyse information from your school’s community to gain an understanding of different strengths, gaps, and needs? 

Parents at Pomaria School.

When gathering information what sources of evidence do you use:

  • existing school data?
  • information from students, parents, teachers, and school leaders?
  • information from your wider school community?

Think about the whole picture. How can you consider the quality of all community–school interactions?

What information already exists?

What are your current school policies and practices for:

  • designing and reviewing your school curriculum to best meet the needs of your students and community?
  • designing and reviewing your school curriculum to be inclusive?
  • designing and reviewing your school curriculum to be culturally relevant?
  • finding out what your parents, whānau, and community want from the school and how they would like to work together?
  • enrolling students?
  • making contact with parents and whānau, sharing information with them, and entering into an ongoing discussion about school issues in general and their child’s learning in particular?
  • seeking to align home and school learning practices?
  • empowering parents and whānau to support their children’s learning?
  • holding parent–teacher meetings?
  • reporting to parents and whānau on students’ progress?
  • fundraising and volunteering activities involving parents, whānau, and community?
  • accessing resources or information from parents and the community?
  • working together to create a new resource or system?

Has this review surfaced any particular issues? This may provide a starting point for further inquiry.

Gathering new information

This section provides questions adapted for students, parents, teachers, and leaders to explore different voices and perspectives. Please select only the questions that are relevant and reword them as necessary. As you select questions, ask yourselves:

  • Do we want to ask this question – is it especially relevant?
  • How shall we word it to make it clear to this particular group of students/adults (particularly if there are language or cultural differences)?
  • Should we ask the question orally or in writing?
  • Do we need to have it interpreted or translated?

These questions could be explored in a face-to-face meeting, in written form, or online.

Questions for students

Please select the questions that are most relevant and reword them as necessary. Depending on the needs of your students, you could provide the option to answer the questions orally, written, online, or in different languages.

  • How do your parents/whānau and your teacher communicate with each other? Which ways work best? Why?
  • Are you able to talk about your learning at school with your teacher? What makes it easy or difficult?
  • Are you able to talk about your learning at school with your parents at home? What makes it easy or difficult?
  • How often do your parents and your teacher talk to each other and to you?
  • What do you and your parents and teacher discuss together (for example, your health, happiness, and learning at home and at school)?
  • Are there any topics that you think should be covered at school that you, your family/whānau or community could help others learn about?
  • Do the tasks that your teacher asks you to do make sense to you and connect to what you know? Do they challenge you and make you think?
  • Do you sometimes have homework to do? If so, how are you helped with this at home?
  • Do you or your parents/whānau tell the teacher when something makes it easier or harder for you to do your homework or your school work?
  • Does your family give the school help or information? If so, how does this improve learning for you or for other students?
  • Does your school have parent-teacher meetings? If so, what do you think they are for? Are they useful? Why, or why not?
  • Does your school have fundraising activities that your family helps with or comes to? If so, does your family enjoy these activities? Why, or why not?
  • How does your teacher report to you and your parents about your learning? Does this way of reporting help you in your learning? Why, or why not?

These questions can be used to explore how your students view learning, how they see their future, and how they define success. Is school meeting their expectations? Which subjects do they like or dislike – and why? What helps them to learn? What makes a good teacher?

Questions for parents and whānau

Please select the questions that are most relevant and reword them as necessary. Depending on the needs of your community, you could provide the option to answer the questions orally, written, online, or in different languages.

  • What do you like about the way the school communicates with you?
  • What changes would you like the school to make in the ways it communicates with you?
  • Are you able to talk with your child about what he/she is learning at school? What makes it easy or difficult?
  • Are you able to talk about what your child is learning at school with their teacher? What makes it easy or difficult?
  • What might your child's teacher know about your child that you don't know? How could this knowledge help you as a parent?
  • What do you know about your child that your child's teacher doesn't know? How could this knowledge help the teacher?
  • How often do you and the teacher discuss your child's health, happiness, and learning at home and at school? Would you like more opportunities for this? Why, or why not?
  • How do teachers support you to understand the school curriculum?
  • Does your child's learning challenge him/her intellectually?
  • Does your child's learning relate to their culture and prior knowledge?
  • Are there any topics or themes that you think should be taught at school that you, your child, or your community could help with?
  • Does your child sometimes have homework to do? If so, how do you support this?
  • Are you able to talk to the teacher about things that make it easier or harder for your child to do their homework or their school work? Why, or why not?
  • Does your family and community give the school help or information? If so, how does this improve learning for the students? How does it affect your relationship with the school?
  • Does your child's school have parent-teacher meetings? If so, what should they be for? Are they useful? Why, or why not?
  • Does your school have fundraising activities that involves your family and community? Does your family enjoy these activities? Why, or why not?
  • How does your teacher report to you and your child about your child's learning? Does this way of reporting enable you to help your child learn more? Why, or why not?

Questions for teachers

Please select the questions that are most relevant and reword them as necessary. These questions could be answered orally, written, online, or in different languages.

  • What changes would you like the school to make in the ways it communicates with parents and the community? Why?
  • Are you able to talk with each student about what that child is learning at school? What makes it easy or difficult?
  • Are you able to talk about what each student is learning at school with their parents? What makes it easy or difficult?
  • What do your students' parents know about their children that you don't know? How could this knowledge help you as a teacher?
  • What do you know about your students that their parents don't know? How could this knowledge help the parents?
  • How often do you and the students' parents discuss the students' health, happiness, and learning at home and at school? Would you like more opportunities to do this? Why, or why not?
  • Do you involve your students, parents/whānau, and community in designing learning opportunities?
  • Do you encourage learning tasks, strategies, or activities that challenge your students' intellectually? How do you know?
  • Do you encourage learning tasks, strategies, or activities that relate to your students' culture and prior knowledge? How do you know?
  • Do you encourage learning tasks, strategies, or activities that are inclusive for all students needs? How do you know?
  • Have you identified parent/whānau or community expertise that could help inform your curriculum and unit planning?
  • Do you sometimes set homework for your students? If so, are you aware of research evidence about how parents can best support children with homework? How do you ensure that the parents know how to support the child in doing this work at home?
  • Do your students and their parents tell you when they know about something that makes it easier or harder for that child to do their homework or their school work?
  • Do you find opportunities to request parent/whānau help or information to support classroom learning? If so, do you think that this improves learning for the students? If so, how? How does it affect your relationships with the parents and students?
  • Does your school have parent-teacher meetings? If so, what is their purpose? Are they useful? Why, or why not?
  • Does your school have fundraising activities that involve students, families, and communities? Do you enjoy these activities? Why, or why not?
  • How do you report to your students and their parents/whānau about the students’ learning? Does this way of reporting enable you to help your students learn more? Why, or why not?

Questions for school leaders

Please select the questions that are most relevant and reword them as necessary. These questions could be answered orally, written, online, or in different languages.

  • How do you consult with parents/whānau to find out what they want from the school and how they would like to work with the school?
  • How does the school communicate with its community about school issues and about issues affecting specific students? How effective is the communication in engaging the community? How do you know?
  • What is the extent of your community consultation on the New Zealand Curriculum and in constructing your school curriculum? How do you ensure that the curriculum taught in your school makes connections between student identity and school practice and that your teachers use inclusive language and practices and avoid stereotyping?
  • As school leaders, how do you ensure that all school staff know about students’ diverse cultural backgrounds and incorporate appropriate features into their programmes? Do you encourage your staff to discuss how home–school partnerships could help them do this?
  • How do school policies and practices encourage students’ teachers and parents/whānau to talk about the children’s health, happiness, and learning at home and at school? Are they effective in promoting such interactions? How do you know?
  • Do you give your staff professional development opportunities that better enable them to form relationships with your school’s parents, whānau, and community, and to monitor the results of the actions they take when working as partners?
  • Do you recruit staff who believe in the value of community partnerships?
  • Are you aware of, and planning to access, resources and information in the local community that could promote your students’ learning? Do you work with the community to create learning tools and quality resources? If so, how does this improve learning for the students? How does it affect the school’s relationship with the parents and students?
  • Does your school have parent-teacher meetings? If so, what is their purpose? Are they effective in meeting that purpose? Why, or why not?
  • Does your school have fundraising activities involving students, families, and the community? Does this way of raising funds foster effective community relationships? How do you know?
  • How does your school report to your students and their parents/whānau about the students’ learning? Does this way of reporting foster effective home-school partnerships that promote students’ learning?
  • How do your school’s community partnerships empower students and enable them to make connections that are educationally powerful? How might the partnerships do this better?

Alternative self review resources

You may prefer to use the following resources:

  • ERO report Partners in Learning (May 2008), has self-review questions in the self-review section.
  • Culture Audit ”: A Leadership Tool for Assessment and Strategic Planning in Diverse Schools and Colleges, a module by R. M. Bustamante (2007) provides generic ideas to help educational leaders conduct a culture audit, focusing on specific domains that affect their organisation. It includes a School-wide Cultural Competence Observation Checklist (Bustamante and Nelson, 2005).

Published on: 05 Sep 2015


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