Joining the Dots Forum 2017 ...

School-Family-Community Partnerships for Successful Transition and Engagement

On behalf of the Joining the Dots Steering Group, welcome to the third Joining the Dots Forum. The focus for our time together today is School-Family-Community Partnerships for Successful Transition and Engagement.

Today’s Forum is part of the highly regarded Joining the Dots Yarra project (2012-2017). The research conducted through the first three phases (2012-2014) has been compiled into the Joining the Dots Reports 1&2. As part of this project, a good practice Transition Model has been developed and implemented by local schools in Yarra. The reports highlight that transition to secondary school involves so much more than the physical transfer of students from Year 6 to Year 7. It is critical that we are able to support our young people through this period of rapid physical, emotional, social and academic development so that they are motivated, engaged, connected and thriving through and beyond their middle years at school. Often forgotten in this process are the families of these young people for whom it is just as big a transition. They too must maintain engagement in their child’s learning.

Securing equity, inclusion and social justice for every person and child in today’s world requires an active partnership for learning across school and community. Creating a positive future for every child and young person is therefore the responsibility of the entire community, hopefully guided by educators who understand their purpose and role in new ways.

– Otero, G., (2016) Connecting school, family, and community: The power of positive relationships

Over 50 years of research links the various roles families play in a child’s education. More recent research also shows that ‘parent and community ties can have a systemic and sustained effect on learning outcomes for children and on whole school improvement when combined with other essential supports such as strong school leadership, a high-quality faculty, community engagement and partnerships, a student-centred learning climate, and effective instructional guidance for staff. ’ Bryk, A.S., Sebring, P.B., & Allensworth, E. (2009) Organizing schools for improvement: Lessons from Chicago.

In the Inner Northern LLEN region (Cities of Moreland, Darebin and Yarra), schools continue to make significant progress and improvements in Year 12 completion, however, there is still work to be done in successfully engaging families and the broader community to keep this improvement moving upward.

Today you will hear from Dr George Otero, an experienced and passionate practitioner in the field as our keynote speaker, and a range of aspirational workshop presenters from schools and community organisations who will share their successes, challenges and resources. It will be a day filled with engaging presentations, purposeful dialogue, practical activities and networking opportunities that we believe will be of value to your school/organisation and community.

The Forum will provide you and your team with practical strategies and frameworks to work in partnership with families and the broader school community to support all young people to remain connected to learning and school (Year 5 – Year 9). I hope this Forum is a catalyst for you and your school or community organisation to reflect on your current practice, and to identify some next steps to take back to your setting for further discussion.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Steering Group who have guided and supported the development of the Project, including today’s event. The Forum has been funded by participants and the City of Yarra, with backbone support from the Inner Northern Local Learning & Employment Network.

David Kennedy
Executive Officer
Inner Northern Local Learning Employment Network Inc.


Downloads

Presentations and supporting documents relating to the Forum and Workshops can be downloaded by clicking on the links below.

 


Preparing for Secondary School: A Guide for Parents 2017
Download a high res file for printing PDF (11.6MB)
Download a low res file for viewing online (2.5 MB)

 

Forum Information

Joining the Dots Plenary Presentation (PDF)
Delegate Forum Information Pack (PDF) – Includes Program Outline, Keynote Speaker Biography, Workshop Abstracts, Useful Resources.

 

Keynote Presentation

Dr George Otero, Director
Center for RelationaLearning, New Mexico

Dr George Otero

George Otero is an educational consultant who was born and raised in New Mexico. He has worked as a teacher, educator, international consultant, social entrepreneur, and author. He and his wife Susan, operate the Center for RelationaLearning based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has worked for many years in Australia and the United Kingdom as well as the United States. His work with schools and community leaders in transforming schools is an outgrowth of his twenty years of work creating and directing a multicultural community learning center in Taos, New Mexico, attended by over 50,000 people. His approach utilized dance, play, dreaming, games, storytelling and an open inquiry process that builds community and stimulates learning and leadership.

Through his work new ways for schools and communities to secure equity, inclusion, and social justice have emerged leading to transformations in relationships. His work in transforming schools is done one at a time by clarifying the issues and problems within the context of their communities.

George has published a number of books and papers, the most current of which are:

Connecting School, Family And Community: The Power Of Positive Relationships
Published in July 2016 by the Center For Strategic Education in Melbourne, Australia and now available to download and utilize. See: CSE Article Seminar Series 256

Tool Kit of practical strategies for connecting parents to children’s learning and for connecting school to community and community to school
Dr Otero co-authored the Tool Kit with Torres Webb. It is available from the Far North Queensland Regional Education Office.

This year, Dr. Otero will revise and update …

Downloads

Keynote PowerPoint Presentation PDF Version (Starts from page 14)

 

Workshops

DOVETON COLLEGE

Greg McMahon, Executive Principal

The My Place Experience – the College as the Centre of the Community

Greg McMahon

This workshop is based around the following model:

Doveton College responded to the disadvantaged nature of its community by taking a lead step in turning research into practice and trialing a new place-based service delivery model, where the school is the central place for children to access education and care and where families access education, training, job support and other services and supports.

The model arises from the concept of reorienting the existing service system for young children and families at a place-based level, delivering an integrated service model for education and care, offering integrated early learning, family support and maternal and child health services for children from birth to age four as well as teaching and learning spaces for Prep (age five) to Year 9 students and a suite of education and training opportunities for adults.

The success of this model relies on the importance of building relationships and understanding and responding to community need. It joins up existing services at a community level, involves partners and operates an integrated, wrap-around community-focused school system, with multiple programs to engage families. It has a dedicated on-site community engagement team and has built partnerships with Monash Health Community Health, City of Casey and City of Dandenong, Brace Skills Plus, Family Life, Save the Children/Good Beginnings, Berry Street, Oz Child, Southern Migrant Refugee Centre, local sport clubs, neighbourhood learning centres, the Department of Justice, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services and several philanthropic organisations.

At Doveton College children access education and care while families access education, training, job support and other health services and supports.

Downloads available
PowerPoint Presentation (PDF version)

ELWOOD PRIMARY SCHOOL

Rob Csoti, Principal

Building Powerful Learning Relationships with the Community

Rob Csoti

This workshop is based around:

Sharing with participants my work with a particular focus on Community Links, Community Based learning and creating partnerships which enhance high levels of participation in all aspects of school that isn’t reliant on specific programs.

An overview of the Whole School Community learning model I work with including the 4 main dimensions – Parent Connectedness, Personalised Learning, Community Links and Community Based Learning A focus on the core of the model which is to develop powerful learning relationships which lead to dynamic school cultures and also talk about two of the main domains which will be of greatest interest to the groups attending – Community Based Learning and Community Links Examples of how Elwood PS and Noble Park PS (two vastly different schools) go about successfully working in these areas –challenges and successes

The main thread throughout the presentation will be how leaders need to be open to the opportunities that present themselves and a change of focus in the key areas that school leaders need to work in.

Downloads available
PowerPoint Presentation (PDF version)

MURDOCH CHILDREN’S RESEARCH INSTITUTE

Dr Lisa Mundy, Research Fellow and Project Manager (Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study) and Elissa Phillips, Project Coordinator

Preparing for the Transition to High School

Dr Lisa Mundy

This workshop is based around:

The move from primary school to secondary school has been identified as one of the most significant transitions in the lives of young people. In Australia, most children make the transition at around 12-13 years of age. The move from primary school to secondary school has been identified as one of the most significant transitions in the lives of young people. In Australia, most children make the transition at around 12-13 years of age.

This move involves changes in relationships with peers and teachers, as well as with parents and families. There are also major changes in the work conducted at school, as well as the school environment and location.

Children often have mixed feelings about the transition and a period of apprehension is normal. These worries are often short lived and usually dissipate within the first term of secondary school. However, many children struggle with the social, emotional, organisation and academic demands of the transition to secondary school. The consequences are marked falls in school engagement, attendance, and the academic achievement of children.

This workshop will focus on students’ needs across the transition from primary to secondary school and the support that parents, teachers and schools can provide. This workshop will focus on students’ needs across the transition from primary to secondary school and the support that parents, teachers and schools can provide.

The workshop will also consider the parent experience of the transition process and the support needs of parents. We will use data from a large longitudinal study based in Melbourne – the Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study (CATS). We will examine:

  • the parent and teacher’s expectation of the anticipated adjustment of the student to secondary school and how this relates to actual adjustment
  • student and parent support needs in the transition and how these are associated with outcomes in secondary school.
  • strategies that schools are currently using to support the transition and discuss how the needs of students and parents may best be met.

We will explore:

  • student concerns before the transition and how these change after the transition.
  • the relationship between these concerns and school outcomes. As well as presenting data from the CATS study, the workshop will include activities for participants to explore the ideas presented in the workshop in more detail.

Downloads available
PowerPoint Presentation (PDF version)

SYDNEY ROAD COMMUNITY SCHOOL

Mel Alexander, Community Engagement Leader, and Tess Abbottsmith Youl, Student Wellbeing Coordinator

How Parent Action Teams can Encourage Parent Engagement in School

Mel Alexander

This workshop is based around:

Parent Action Teams are based on the model of Roger Holdsworth’s Student Action Teams. Students come up with questions for problems around the school, conduct research and come up with recommendations. Some recommendations become actions and these are celebrated. This model has been so successful at SRCS that we now have SATs embedded in the curriculum and the SRC. Parent Action Teams are based on the model of Roger Holdsworth’s Student Action Teams. Students come up with questions for problems around the school, conduct research and come up with recommendations. Some recommendations become actions and these are celebrated. This model has been so successful at SRCS that we now have SATs embedded in the curriculum and the SRC.

We recently started a Parent Action Team that is addressing the issue of parent engagement in the school. Parents are meeting regularly and have started investigating a new school sign, a sensory space, a skills and talents register and will be hosting a tea and cake afternoon at our next parent/teacher interviews. The success of the model within the school is now working more broadly with the parents and we anticipate higher levels of student engagement because of higher levels of parent engagement.

Downloads available
Presentation information (PDF version)

FOUNDATION HOUSE

Kathy Cooney, Sector Planning & Development Coordinator

Listening to the wisdom of parents of refugee background

This workshop is based around:

Sometimes educators might make assumptions about the families of students when attempts to establish sustainable relationships between school and families fail, especially for families from refugee backgrounds. Sometimes educators might make assumptions about the families of students when attempts to establish sustainable relationships between school and families fail, especially for families from refugee backgrounds.

This workshop will describe innovative projects that established a state-wide partnership group of Parent Advisors and school staff by bringing together parents from refugee backgrounds with school leadership teams to form advisory groups in five different Victorian schools.

This highly transferable model has been successfully used with Family Support Services, Early Childhood settings, Relationship Support services and in education settings to promoteparent/carer engagement.

The groups aimed to improve student education outcomes by supporting schools to enhance their capacity to engage with families. The groups aimed to improve student education outcomes by supporting schools to enhance their capacity to engage with families.

This workshop will be useful to all educators as the wise advice and recommendations will be presented with discussion and time to reflect about how this wisdom could be adapted to a variety of schools.  Free project resources to support other schools to use this strategy are available at Foundation House.

Download available
PowerPoint Presentation (PDF version)

GOOD SAMARITAN PRIMARY SCHOOL

Helen Smith, Deputy Principal, and John Stafford, Consultant

Learning by the Power of 3

Helen Smith

This Workshop is based around:

Parents are the first educators of their children. Good Samaritan Catholic Primary School joins this partnership when parents enrol their child at the school. How well the family, the school and the child work together is key to the child’s intellectual, physical, socio-emotional, moral and spiritual development throughout these primary school years. Our vision for learning and revelation is emerging as students, families and school staff work in partnership to support every child to achieve success.

This learning relationship we call Learning by the Power of Three (Learning3).

Some of the key changes that have been made at Good Samaritan School are:

  • Introduction of an early years program including the appointment of an early years leader
  • Development of a new “family-centred” enrolment approach and process
  • The development and implementation of a school-wide Parent Engagement Plan
  • The initiation of “community conversations’ as a strategy for ongoing dialogue and exploration with parents
  • The creation of Family Learning Conversations in term 1 of each year
  • The implementation of Learning Conversations, that connect students, parents and staff around learning progress and learner behaviours each term
  • The development and modelling of learning at home strategies and activities
  • The creation of the Jericho Community Learning Village
  • The establishment of a number of significant partnerships with community organisations

Good Samaritan is a Catholic Primary school located in the outer north western suburb of Roxburgh Park with a student population of over 720 students. The school community comprises nearly 500 families of diverse cultural backgrounds. Nearly 90% of families are from Iraq. Many are refugees and most are new arrivals to the area. The school is the first point of contact for many families. It is early days in this process of change however the response from families has been very positive, staff are embracing the new strategies and approaches and students are engaged and connected.

The Workshop will:

  • explore some of the thinking and decision-making critical to this change process
  • discuss some of the challenges that we face and ways we have gone about addressing these
  • how the changes are being implemented and the emphasis on building the capacity of parents, students and staff
  • provide opportunities to interact and explore transferability of the ideas and strategies
    share some of the resources developed and used.

Download available
PowerPoint presentation (PDF version)

ROXBURGH COLLEGE

Bronwyn Meek, Ready for Roxy Co-ordinator

Ready for Roxy

Bronwyn Meek

This workshop is based around:

Ready for Roxy (RfR) was developed as a pilot in 2014 between Meadow Heights Primary School and Roxburgh Secondary College and has been now operating for three years.  Initially funded by School Focused Youth Service seed funding for the first year, the ongoing development of RfR was made possible by Roxburgh College ensuring that the program was managed and produced positive outcomes for Students at Risk.

The RfR program was developed to prevent this disengagement by creating a network of teachers, mentors, welfare aides and peers to form a safe and supportive environment that the students could feel comfortable and ready to learn in. From its initial intake of 16 for the pilot project, the RfR program has grown to cater to 49 students in 2016 and for 56 students in 2017.

Students were chosen by the Primary school teachers to participate for any of the following reasons

  • Low attendance rates
  • Program for Students with a Disability
  • Speech impairment
  • Language difficulties
  • Family/emotional issues

RfR is more than a transition program. The focus on wellbeing has further cemented ties with the local Primary Schools and teachers and support staff at the College. Importantly the connection with family at this critical transition point has been instrumental in the success of the program. RfR is more than a transition program. The focus on wellbeing has further cemented ties with the local Primary Schools and teachers and support staff at the College. Importantly the connection with family at this critical transition point has been instrumental in the success of the program.

The Ready for Roxy Project Implementation Outline identified certain aspects that would serve as indicators of the measure of the success of the pilot program.

Download available
PowerPoint Presentation (PDF version)

For more information, please contact:

Rochelle Darby – INLLEN Partnership Broker

M 0408 036 602   T 03 9384 2325    E rdarby@inllen.org.au