Parent & Community Engagement
Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ), in partnership with the Queensland Independent Schools Parents Network (QIS Parents Network), is intent on elevating and enhancing parent and community engagement in independent schools.
The Difference between Involvement and Engagement
Examples of family-led learning include shared reading, homework support and positive parent-child interactions. Examples of family-school partnerships include communication about what children are learning and specific information about what families can do to help (Fox & Olsen, 2014).
Parent Engagement Continuum
It is instructive to view involvement and engagement as a continuum and to plot where your overall school approach sits and to also identify your engagement levels with different parent groups within your community, such as early years parents, high school parents, boarding parents and families from Indigenous or English as a Second Language or Dialect (EAL/D) backgrounds.
Continuum graphic adapted from Goodall, J. & Montgomery, C. (2014). Parental involvement to parental engagement: a continuum.
Why Parent Engagement Matters
Parent communities can be a school’s greatest ally in raising student achievement levels. Decades of international and national research has shown the biggest impacts on student learning are realised when a school engages parents in their child’s learning through simple, practical strategies and activities that families can do at home to connect and reinforce what happens inside the classroom.
Inviting families to be involved at school through a working bee, volunteering for reading, tuckshop duty or fundraising are important community building activities that lay the foundation for parent engagement. Involvement builds relationships, a sense of community, a common purpose and school culture, providing a path to engagement.
"Parental engagement involves partnerships between families and schools to promote children’s learning and wellbeing. It involves:
- family‑led learning focused on high aspirations for children, shared reading, a positive environment for homework, parent‑child conversation, a cognitively stimulating home environment and support for social and emotional wellbeing; and
- family‑school partnerships that encourage positive parent‑teacher relationships, communication about children’s progress, and engagement in the school community, while equipping parents to effectively support and encourage their children’s learning and wellbeing." (ARACY, 2014, p 20)
Extensive research has shown the benefits to schools and students when parents are engaged in their child’s learning.
Effect – the parent engagement effect is the equivalent of adding an extra two to three years’ education over a student’s school life (Hattie’s, as cited in ARACY, 2017).
Financial value – schools would need to increase per-pupil spending by more than $1,000 in order to achieve the same results that are gained by parent engagement (Houtenville & Smith Conway, 2008).
PISA – students whose parents spend time simply talking with them were two thirds of a school year ahead in science learning. The benefit is still one third of a school year even after accounting for socio-economic status (OECD, 2017).
Parent engagement has been identified as a key tool that can help close the achievement gap between children from different socioeconomic backgrounds.
When parents are engaged in their child’s education and learning it can lead to:
- improved school readiness
- higher retention and graduation rates
- enhanced cognitive development and academic achievement
- higher motivation and greater ability.
Governments have prioritised parent engagement and want schools to do the same. The importance and role of families in a child’s education are enshrined in The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians and will likely remain an important focus in the new declaration currently being drafted.
Parent, community and industry engagement has also been identified as a key focus area in the 2019-2023 Bilateral Agreement between the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments on National School Education Reform.
Parent engagement is embedded in the Australian Professional Standard for Principals and the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST).
- Principal Standard 5.0 - Engaging and working with the community
- Teacher Standard 3.7 - Engage parents/carers in the educative process
- Teacher Standard 7.3 - Engage with the parents/carers
ISQ Services to Support Parent Engagement
ISQ is currently developing an overarching Parent and Community Engagement Strategy in partnership with the QIS Parents Network to provide more strategic support to member schools in this important area. This strategy will be informed and guided by school and parent insights on parent engagement drawn from ISQ and QIS Parents Network surveys and evaluations.
The new strategy will also reflect extensive national and international research findings on effective parent and community engagement and the strategies that have been proven to have the greatest measurable impact on student outcomes.
You can find more parent engagement resources on the QIS Parents Network website. Read about ISQ's intended direction in our Parent and Community Engagement brochure.
Elements of parent and community engagement are incorporated into a range of ISQ programs and services, such as:
An extensive range of parent engagement resources has been produced by the QIS Parents Network, in partnership with ISQ. A selection of these resources and case studies are below.
Expressions of interest
Schools that want to work with ISQ and the QIS Parents Network to prioritise parent engagement in 2020 are invited to register their interest. Please contact Shari Armistead, Director (Strategic Relations) - firstname.lastname@example.org or 07 3228 1515.
Independent School Case Studies