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Student goal setting and parent engagement

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Goal setting and community workshops are some of the initiatives that have been introduced at Pomaria School to improve educational outcomes for students. This story describes how teachers, parents, and whānau work together to lift achievement for each child. This film is the second in a series, designed to provide support and inspiration to schools that are in the process of reviewing their own curriculum.

Professional learning conversations

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

Community engagement

Chapter 7 of the School Leadership BES focuses on creating educationally powerful connections with families, whānau, and communities. A key finding in the BES is that there is great potential for school leaders to change patterns of underachievement when they work with parents and whānau to build home–school connections that are focused on teaching and learning.

  • What does Pomaria School do to engage with families and whānau?
  • How do their strategies link to the evidence about what works?
  • What does your school currently do to engage with your families and whānau?
  • How can you ensure that you are focused on students' learning and achievement in your interactions with parents, families, and whānau?

Goal setting

The New Zealand Curriculum states that effective assessment:

  • involves students – They discuss, clarify, and reflect on their goals, strategies, and progress with their teachers, their parents, and one another. This develops students’ capacity for self- and peer assessment, which lead in turn to increased self-direction.
  • supports teaching and learning goals – Students understand the desired outcomes and the criteria for success. Important outcomes are emphasised, and the teacher gives feedback that helps the students to reach them.
  • Discuss how goal setting at Pomaria School brings these characteristics of effective assessment to life.
  • In what ways are these characteristics evident at your school? Is there something that you can change or introduce to embed these characteristics further?


Donna Nee

I think we’ve always had children setting goals, but this year we’ve made sure that those goals are aligned with the school targets. Communicating that with parents is really important, it’s an integral part of making this work, so each time we meet with our parents, the conversations are centred around the goals. Even with sending home reports to parents, it’s related to the children’s goals, and how they’re going with those goals. If there’s been changes in those goals - because they’ve either achieved them, or they’re going down another pathway, so that the parents are fully engaged in that. And then we look at how, as a school, we can support our parents with achieving those goals. So if their goals set in literacy and numeracy, through our community room, we will run courses for our parents, free courses during the day that are either run by teachers or one of the management staff that will give tools to our parents to help support at home.

Jackie Rogers

For my own son, he wants to learn to read better. So I have been coming to the workshops here at the school because I was one of those parents who’s like, “What’s that word?  What’s that word?” But that’s not actually how you help them learn. So I’ve learnt some skills through our workshop about pulling him closer, making him feel comfortable. I didn’t used to do that, so that’s something I definitely learnt. That it’s okay if he doesn’t know the word – that we can try beginnings and ends, and sounding it out, and in the end, if he really doesn’t know we can just say “Never mind the words, tell me about the story with the pictures”, and he feels more comfortable and we’ll try it again the next night. I didn’t used to do that. So that was a skill that I learnt from one of our workshops that I was really pleased with.

Kerry Anne Jackson

Throughout the whole stage that they’re at this school, and during their journey, those learners know exactly where they stand. There’s no hidden secrets, there’s no, I think the days of old where you didn’t know where you were, you didn’t know what your levels were. Our learners know exactly where they stand and they know where they have to go to and what they need to do to achieve that. To be able to share that with their parents I think cements that whole journey of theirs. We’re all on the same page and we’re all trying to get to that same goal. I think even as parents, we’re still on that journey as well, we’re still learning, and it amazes me how much I’ve learnt, on being part of this journey with my children at Pomaria School. 

Donna Matson

How the goal setting has helped my grandson, Isaiah, to improve his learning has been quite enormous, actually.  He struggled at the beginning of the year and what I’ve seen in him, is, he’s excited about his learning, he wants to learn, he’s really eager. Last night he came home and said to me, “Nan, I’ve done my ESOL test, and I’ve passed my level 6 now and I’m getting there.” That excites me, because I know he’s actually achieving the goals that he set out to achieve. I want to tautoko what everyone else has said too, because the environment we have, because it is diverse, we have a lot of people we can contact, and, like whaea said, we’ve always got our teachers to help us to keep things on track. I’m really grateful to the teachers because they have kept me informed, and I do feel part of the school. It’s been absolutely wonderful for him to come home and be excited about his learning, for me that is the blessing. I’m very happy.

Sue Wilson

People are looking at what the learner can do, not what the learner cannot do. So the focus is on what the learner can do now, what the next steps for the learner will be, and how we will get there. And I think some of our parents they come from a more traditional understanding of school, of the three R’s, because that’s where they are coming from and an expectation that children will be here, and therefore if they’re not they can’t do. So now we’re flipping it so that whereby we are now appreciating what our learners can do and showing the parents a way forward. And actually asking for their help to take these learners forward. So we’ve got that home school partnership operating as well.

Published on: 09 Nov 2014