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Community engagement principle

Community engagement principle
"The curriculum has meaning for students, connects with their wider lives, and engages the support of their families, whānau, and communities."

The community engagement principle is one of eight principles in The New Zealand Curriculum that provide a foundation for schools' decision making. The community engagement principle calls for schools and teachers to deliver a curriculum that:

  • is meaningful, relevant, and connected to students' lives
  • reflects the values and aspirations of parents, whānau, and the wider community
  • establishes strong home-school partnerships where parents, whānau, and communities are involved and supported in students' learning.
Parents and students in a conference

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Ideas to engage your community
Diana Tregoweth outlines some of the approaches in place at Owairaka School to encourage parent, family, whānau, and community engagement in the school. You can consider how you can adapt and build on the approaches to suit your school's context and community. 

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NZC Update 1 - Family and community engagement
This update focuses on engagement with whānau and Māori communities. 

PDF icon. NZC Update 1 (PDF, 2 MB)

NZC Update 10 - Engaging with families from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds
This Update focuses on partnerships between schools and diverse families and communities. 

PDF icon. NZC Update 10 (PDF, 1,011 KB)

Prompt - Mythbuster.

The community engagement principle isn't just about holding regular whānau hui or having an open door policy. The community engagement principle calls for schools to build productive partnerships with parents, whānau, hapū, and iwi to engage their support and ensure that teaching and learning meets the needs, interests, and talents of their children. There is no 'one size fits all' approach. Schools will need to use a range of relationship building strategies to suit the diversity of their school community. 


Father and daughter.

Community engagement checklist
This checklist can be used by schools to help them consider how they are currently enacting the community engagement principle. The checklist is available as a Word document download. By marking the tick boxes, schools will be able to identify where they sit in relation to each statement and create an action plan for improvement.

Word 2007 icon. Community engagement checklist (Word 2007, 25 KB)

School partnerships self audit tool and possible process 
This tool can be used to consider current community-school interactions and find out more about community values and expectations. It also includes a possible process that you might use to act on the findings.

Community engagement workshops
These materials are designed to support you as you conduct community engagement workshops. Schools may choose to provide these workshops in a variety of ways, as appropriate to your needs and those of your school community. 

Local Curriculum Design Tool
The Relationships for Learning tool helps you to identify and share community relationships to support your local curriculum community. 

Reviewing your school-whānau partnerships
Use this interactive tool with whānau, Māori students, and the local Māori community to identify the strengths and needs of your partnerships with whānau. The tool results in a comprehensive report that helps you identify your progress and next steps. 

Parent and caregiver survey
The Parent and Caregiver Survey (PaCS) was developed as part of NSI Partnerships’ Effective School Improvement work. The PaCS is a statistically validated survey that can be used to gather parents’ and caregivers’ perceptions of key aspects of the school climate. 

PDF icon. Parent and caregiver survey PaCS (PDF, 220 KB)

School stories

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Wairakei School  – Working in partnership with Ngāti Tūwharetoa
Schools in the Taupō area, including Wairakei School, have worked in partnership with Ngāti Tūwharetoa to ensure students learn about their iwi, its history, places, and stories. 

Rangikura School – Pasifika parent group leads learning
During Sāmoan Language Week the staff, students, parents, and wider community of Rangikura School came together to enjoy an array of activities and celebrations which were organised by the school’s Rangikura Matua Pasifika Parent group.

The Catlins Area School – Aviation studies 
Students at The Catlins Area School are working towards exciting new career opportunities in the aviation industry. A shortage of young people entering the aviation industry was identified by Service IQ, and the school welcomed the opportunity to respond to community need.

Arrowtown School – Lighting up minds through project based learning
Year 7 and 8 students from Arrowtown Primary School designed and created illuminated ski suits for a competition run by the school in collaboration with NZ Ski. Teachers Grant Hammond and Joe Bailey explain their journey in implementing “Illuminate” – a project that has lit up the minds of their senior students and strengthened community engagement at their school. 

Lyall Bay School – Benefits of a radio station
After nearly ten years of radio broadcasting we catch up with staff and students at Lyall Bay School to learn how Maranui FM has helped to build learner agency, key competencies, and community connections. Learn how the school has used the radio station to grow educationally powerful relationships with whānau, businesses, and the local retirement village.

Oakura School – Homes for penguins
Oakura Community and the Department of Conservation (DOC) had a project to do and needed some assistance. So they went to the obvious place for help and approached the children at Oakura School. Find out how Oakura School developed a productive partnership with DOC and used their local environment as an outside classroom.

Target Road School – Financial capability and whānau engagement
In this school snapshot, Christine Templeton, Deputy Principal of Target Road School, describes how and why they have drawn their community into learning about financial capability.

Menzies College – Localised learning at Mimihau Stream
Year 12 students from Menzies College have been catching and tagging trout in Mimihau Stream, sharing their findings with Fish and Game New Zealand. The trout monitoring project supports the community engagement principle by connecting with students' interests and the school's local environment. 

Papakowhai School – Celebrating Samoan Language Week
Jo Henderson is a teacher of year 5 and 6 students at Papakowhai School. In this snapshot, Jo describes an integrated art and social sciences project that she planned for her students for Samoan Language Week. Find out how Jo enlisted the support of a parent in classroom learning.

Tawa Intermediate – Student voice  
This snapshot describes how Tawa Intermediate teachers asked their learners what they want from their school.

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Engaging whānau through Māori graduation
Growing educationally powerful partnerships with whānau has been a key priority across the Mt Roskill campus. This film explains how the development of Māori graduation ceremonies has led to deeper community connections and growing pride in student achievement.

Developing whānau priorities at Te Kura o Hiruharama
The staff, board, and whānau at Te Kura o Hiruharama went through a collaborative process to identify their priorities for learning. This story explains the process and the outcomes of this exploration and how this has transferred into the life of the school.

Community and curriculum at Renwick School
The Renwick School community were fully involved in the planning and writing of the local curriculum, and it is evident that parents, students, and staff all feel an ownership in the document and its implementation.

Strengthening iwi and whānau partnerships
Staff at Taihape Area School developed collaborative and sustainable partnerships with family, whānau, and iwi. This film explains how the iwi's vision and aspirations are shared, understood, and reflected in practice.

Making it our curriculum
The staff and Board at Matakohe school worked with their community to re-design their school curriculum. Through listening to the values and ideals of everyone, they developed a set of student competencies that everybody owned.

An open door policy that works
Chrissie Rumpler from Owairaka School discusses how to ensure an effective open classroom door policy through making connections with the community and having a school structure that values the engagement.

Engaging Pasifika families – Owairaka School builds a fale
The staff at Owairaka School have explored ways to build deep connections and partnerships with the many cultural groups and families at their school. This story tells how the community worked together to construct a traditional Sāmoan fale.

Community engagement – a parent's perspective
Saga Frost, a parent at Owairaka School, discusses what it is like to be a partner in the learning community at her school and reveals that she didn't realise, until she got involved, how much she could impact on her child's learning.

Supporting whānau with learning at Pomaria School
In this story, parents and teachers from Pomaria School describe the way whānau are supported at the school and the way whānau voice is used to create directions for learning.

Student goal setting and parent engagement
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.

Community engagement and the key competencies at Frimley School
Parents are closely involved in learning about and developing key competencies at Frimley School. This video explains how the school and parents work together.

Supporting teachers with community engagement in the classroom
Teacher Chrissie Rumpler explains how Owairaka School has supported staff to learn from, understand, and engage with the different cultures in their school community.

Strengthening our learning community
Yolanda Julies, principal at Te Kura Reo Rua o Waikirikiri, discusses how working with all partners in a child's learning has added richness to the school curriculum. The strong relationships that have ben developed provide the platform for developing a localised curriculum.

Learners contribute to curriculum design – Manurewa Central School
This video developed by the Education Review Office describes how teachers at Manurewa Central School ensure that students have direct input into curriculum design.


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Information sharing and building learning partnerships – Leading Local Curriculum Guide Series
This guide contains guidance, review questions, activities, examples, and resources to enable deep discussions in your school about information sharing and learning partnerships. These discussions will help to maintain a clear focus on equitable and positive outcomes for all your students. 

Educationally Powerful Connections with Parents and Whānau
This 2015 report from the Education Review Office (ERO) evaluates how well 256 schools worked with parents and whānau to respond to students at risk of underachievement. A 2-page PDF summary of this report is also available.

Education for Māori: Relationships Between Schools and Whānau
This 2015 report from the Auditor General Office examines how well the education system supports Māori students to achieve their full potential. It presents information about relationships between families and schools, and offers examples of practices that build effective relationships.

Whose voices help to shape your local curriculum?
This blog provides ideas, questions, tools, and examples to help you design a local curriculum that reflects what is important to your community.

The differences between parent involvement and parent engagement
This webpage provides a snapshot from 'Building Parent Engagement in Schools' by Larry Ferlazzo.

Funds of knowledge
This blog examines the importance of recognising the funds of knowledge that students bring to the classroom. It provides some background links to explore this idea further.

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Partnering with parents, whānau, and communities
This inclusive education guide provides stories, resources, and links to research to support schools to develop and strengthen effective partnerships with parents and whānau. It also emphasises the value of building close community networks to support student learning and wellbeing.

Connecting with Māori communities: Whānau, Hapū, and Iwi
This resource outlines key messages from research and literature that relate to schools connecting with their Māori communities, including whānau, hapū, and iwi.

Better relationships for better learning
Better relationships for better learning provides guidelines for Boards of Trustees and schools on engaging with Māori parents, whānau, and communities.

Ruia: School-whānau partnerships
This resource supports school leaders to improve outcomes for Māori students by working in educationally powerful partnerships with whānau.

Engaging Pasifika parents and communities
This section of the Pasifika Education Community offers resources, tools, and examples to help your school effectively engage with your Pasifika communities.

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Pacific STEAM
Use the resource to encourage students to study Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Maths (STEAM) subjects and carry their ancestors' legacy into the future. Five short videos and downloadable posters that illustrate how Pacific peoples were always scientists, technologists, engineers, artists, and mathematicians.

Supporting learning at home – Primary school
This Government resource provides information for parents of primary school students about supporting their learning at home. It includes ideas to help with reading, writing, maths, and development of key competencies.

Supporting learning at home – Secondary school
This Government resource provides information for parents of secondary school students about supporting their learning at home. It includes ideas to help with NCEA exams and development of key competencies.

Families and whānau section of NZ Maths
This section of the NZ Maths website provides activities and resources to help families support their child's learning in maths.

Partners in learning
This booklet helps parents, families, and whānau to form effective relationships and educationally powerful connections. Partners in Learning sets out what parents can expect from their child's school and more importantly, how they can help their child do well at school. 

Talanoa Ako digital App
This digital app for Pacific families includes key information about education in 10 Pacific languages and English. The app is free to download for Apple and Android phones and tablets.

Download the Talanoa Ako app – App Store

Download the Talanoa Ako app – Google Play Store

Published on: 26 Mar 2020


Support packages are available for all eight curriculum principles: