In 2017 Parents Victoria and DET facilitated “Community Conversation” sessions at several government schools in Victoria. These sessions were attended by family members of the host school and surrounding schools.
Key themes that emerged were:
- Families are keen for schools to provide opportunity or invitation for families to engage. They said “schools have to keep asking and providing a range of opportunities – don’t give up”.
- Families think it’s important that schools know their students well to get the maximum benefits from students.
- Families want the opportunity to have meaningful discussion with teachers re their students – i.e. additional or different to parent teacher interviews. E.g. similar opportunity to the “community conversation” sessions.
- Many families felt they would like a better understanding as to why things happen the way they do at schools – why students are taught what they are taught, why schools make the decisions they make. Families are keen to understand the ‘why’ and to learn about what their students learn!
- Families feel they lack understanding of what are the school’s priorities.
- Migrant families expressed a need / interest to understand the Australian or Victorian school system as they see this as important to being able to support their students / school. For many, the Australian / Victorian education system is very different from their home countries and Family Engagement is a very different concept they were keen to embrace.