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  • Family–School Partnerships

    The aim of Catholic Education Melbourne's Family–School Partnerships initiative is to support schools to build and strengthen links with families and the local community to improve student learning and wellbeing outcomes.

    Key focus areas relating to the Family–School Partnership (FSP) initiative include:

    • Enable and enhance the capacity of families to be engaged in learning.
    • Enable and strengthen school–community/business partnerships to maximise learning opportunities and outcomes and to extend schools.

    The Family–School Partnership Model entails:

    • Targeted support for the 35 schools supported under the Smarter Schools: National Partnerships (SSNP) Low Socioeconomic Status (SES) FSP initiative with a focus on introducing new (Low SES) schools to adopt FSP approaches.
    • Schools engage in the work through in-school leadership roles such as by Family Engagement in Learning Leader (FELL).
    • Schools are encouraged to establish clusters of primary and secondary schools and may appoint a Cluster Engagement Leader (CEL) to support and facilitate their family and community partnerships work.
    • Clusters and schools are supported by Catholic Education Melbourne's Family–School Partnership Team located at James Goold House, East Melbourne. 

     The FSP initiative works with low socioeconomic (SES) school clusters to:

    • promote enhanced school/ parent relationships through identifying shared local needs and issues
    • promote partnership arrangements with business and the not-for-profit sector across schools and the system to enhance engagement and learning.

     The following key themes have emerged in the FSP initiative:

    • The shift from family involvement in schooling (e.g. parents helping at school events), to family engagement in learning. This strategic theme has been strongly influenced by the work of Alma Harris (2009).
    • Early learning and issues related to school readiness, including pre-school and play group activities that engage families in learning, both at school and home. In some schools this led to partnerships being developed with local government authorities, universities and community agencies.
    • Broadening understandings of learning beyond the school, to include ‘learning at home’. This work is underpinned by the work of Joyce Epstein (2002). Towards the end of 2010, this theme extended to include ‘the language of schooling/learning’ as this has been identified as a possible barrier for families to engage in learning both at school and at home (inspired by the work of John Hattie 2009).
    • Cultural considerations associated with many of the participating school communities having a large number of refugee families, including a significant number of new arrivals. These school communities are focused on improving communication strategies, creating opportunities to strengthen connectedness and engaging families in schooling and their child’s learning. Much of this work was undertaken in partnership with community organisations such as the Centre for Multicultural Youth and Foundation House.
  • Resources

    Parent Engagement in Action resource 


    Parent Engagement in Action   

    The Parent Engagement in Action resource guides school leaders through a process of reflection and evaluation focusing on parental engagement across four key focus areas: Relationships, Learning, Leadership, and Reflection. It consists of two components:
    The Guide and The Toolkit.

    It is designed to assist school leaders and teachers to examine what they are doing well to engage parents in learning, and where they can improve. Leaders can use the Parent Engagement in Action resource to help their parish and school community form a deeper understanding of parent engagement. They are offered a selection of tools to assist with the collection and analysis of existing and new data around parent engagement, including the School Improvement Framework data. There is as much emphasis on formal data and research as there is on local information and knowledge. School leaders are encouraged to use the information gathered through this resource to evaluate and plan for improvement.

    Leading Family School Partnerships 
    A document developed by Catholic Education Melbourne's Wellbeing & Community Partnerships Unit to assist school leaders to understand and strengthen the role of school leadership in facilitating effective family, school and community partnerships. In this context leadership can be displayed in three related but distinctly different ways – in-school leadership, between school (cluster) leadership and leadership within the community. This work has been informed by a substantial evidence base and learnings from the CEOM Family School Partnerships (FSP) initiative.  

    Community Conversations 
    This document provides schools and school leaders with an overview of the approach, and sets out how the practice of Community Conversations can lead to improved understanding and connected for whole school communities, and improved learning outcomes for students. The work has emerged from Catholic Education Melbourne's Family School Partnership initiative (2010-2013) with the support of Dr George Otero from the Centre from RelationaLearning, New Mexico.  

    Community Conversations – listening to Parent Voice in a school community.
    This 7-minute film is a useful resource to help school leaders and staff further explore the purpose and process of a Community Conversation, showing how it might look in action in a school community.



    Learning Together 

    The Learning Together - Engaging Parents and Families in School Learning DVD explores how Catholic school communities in the Archdiocese of Melbourne have engaged in family school partnerships work and the six dimensions of a strategy to support school leadership.



    Engaging parents as partners in their child’s learning makes a difference to learning outcomes. The Support Materials for Schools provides guidelines, quotes and activities for school staff and communities to deepen and extend the conversation about engaging parents and families in their child’s learning.   Learning Together cover 

    Anne Henderson – what does a successful partnership school look like? 

    This 20-minute film of Anne Henderson, author of Beyond the Bake Sale, presents aspects of her research to a group of parents and teachers in Melbourne. Anne focuses on the reasons for working with parents and community, and what successful partnership schools look like. At the end of the clip, ideas to prompt discussions are provided.


    Family School Partnership statement: animation 

    This Family School Partnership statement is a declaration of intention, a way of bringing to life the purpose behind why engage families and communities in children's education. It is designed to help school leaders understand the philosophy of family–school partnerships and to provoke conversations which deepen understandings around the key elements.



    Professional learning and international collaboration 

    June 11 2015 - Leading Family School Partnerships– full day professional learning sessions with Ms Maggie Farrar and Dr George Otero

    Session 1

    Session 2

    Session 3

    In May 2012, Maggie Farrar (National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services, UK) presented a series of forums on school-community partnerships for learning, equity and excellence and the role of leadership in educational reform and school improvements. Maggie’s presentations for the three days are:


    Designed to support schools in their family and community engagement efforts, the posters can be printed and used to guide school involvement and planning processes, as well as a stimulus in staff professional learning.

    These posters are reproduced from the CEOM Family School Partnerships e-newsletter distributed each term. While they were developed for targeted school communities involved in the Smarter Schools National Partnerships, Family School Partnerships initiative, they are relevant resources for all school communities.

     cover  Ten things schools can do to create great family-school partnerships    cover  Three useful ways to think about Parent Engagement in Learning 
     cover  Some tips for learning at home    cover  Types of parent involvement: Keys to successful partnerships 
     cover  The language of schooling...the language of learning    cover  Parent Teacher Interviews: Tips for school staff 
     cover  Thinking about school community partnerships?    10  Family engagement: everyone has a part to play 
     11  Family–School–Partnerships statement    12  Outward Facing Schools: What is your 'viewing point'? 
     13  Family–school–community ties: Part of the main game    14  Relationships are the key to learning 

    Translated Family School Partnerships Posters
    cover  Schools, Families and, Social and Emotional Learning 
        Chinese (Simplified | Traditional)
      cover   Where do young people learn?
        Chinese (Simplified | Traditional)

    See also 

    Student Wellbeing Research Document 4 : Clusters
    Student Wellbeing Research Document 5 : School Community 

  • References

    Cronin, D 2010, 'My dad’s always asking me, "what did I learn today?"' Learning Matters, Catholic Education Office Melbourne, 15 (2), 53–55.

    DEEWR 2008, Family–School Partnerships Framework: A guide for schools and families', Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Australia.

    Harris, A, Andrew-Power, K & Goodall, J 2009, Do Parents Know They Matter? Raising achievement through parental engagement, Continuum International Publishing Group, New York.

    Hattie, J 2009, Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement, Routledge, New York.

    Council of Catholic School Parents 2010, Partners 4 Learning: A framework to support partnership in Catholic school communities, Council of Catholic School Parents, New South Wales.

    Pushor, D 2007, 'Parent Engagement: Creating a Shared World', Invited Research Paper, Ontario Education Research Symposium, 18–20 January 2007, Toronto, Ontario.