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Community engagement and the key competencies at Frimley School

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Kirsty Jones explains how community engagement was approached at Frimley School, where families have been involved in helping their children see the link between the key competencies at home and at school.

Professional learning conversations

These questions and suggested actions encourage you to reflect on your own school context.

Key Competencies in the community

The New Zealand Curriculum (p12) states that:

"Opportunities to develop the competencies occur in social contexts. People adopt and adapt practices that they see used and valued by those closest to them, and they make these practices part of their own identity and expertise."

  • How do partnerships with parents and whānau at your school enable consideration about students’ competencies across school and home contexts?
  • In what ways do you see your students showing the key competencies outside of the classroom?
  • How have you supported your parents, families, whānau, and communities to recognise key competencies as a valued aspect of student learning?

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Key competencies are about students applying learning in a wide range of authentic contexts – at school, at home, and in the wider community.


We unpacked the key competencies with the children and the staff and we came up with six words as a school that were consistent, which we felt encompassed everything we had talked about:

  • Responsibility
  • Celebrating difference
  • Respect
  • Communicating effectively
  • Cooperation and competition
  • Optimism

We sent these words home on a grid to the parents for them to sit down with their children and explore what the words mean in relation to the key competency ‘Relating to others’. Parents then found examples of how these words were exhibited at home and sent it back to school. 

To help parents explore the key competency ‘participating and contributing’ we sent home a certificate with the children and asked the parents to fill in the certificate and return it to school. The teacher had identified ways the children had participated and contributed at school and we asked parents to affirm their children with ways they participate and contribute at home. Over the course of a couple of weeks the children would share their certificate with the class to reinforce these aspects that were happening outside of school.

A group of parents discussed this process as well:

It hit home when we were sent the form telling us what the headings meant and putting it into a home context. That made it real to us, and the children. It made it not just a classroom thing but a home thing as well.

A newsletter also came home to explain the key competencies with ideas how we could talk to the children about them. 

My children are quite different at home to what they are at school. Now I often use the language of relating to others when asking if this is how they would relate to others at school or manage themselves at school. 

With the relating to others, you are giving the child the responsibility. My child spends a lot of time in Marae based activities and we find it is very important that she understands she is responsible for her relationships.

We were sent home this sheet with relating to others and I looked at it and wondered how I could approach this with twin 5 year old boys. I broke it down and just looked at it within the context of our family. Using the words about celebrating difference and the cooperation and competition between twin boys, using the language and there are lots of things that are the same about you but what is different? And we really had our first discussion about their different personalities, their different ways of achieving at school. It was a good way to start using that kind of language at home. 

We quite often bring in the key competencies language at home because it is on a level they can understand. Because it is discussed and encouraged at school we can use it at home. It gives continuity from home to school and school to home. The expectations are the same, we can expect the same kind of behaviour and it kind of bridges the gap in a sense.

Updated on: 12 Jun 2009