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Involvement and Engagement


Key content

Many schools already involve Pacific parents in fundraising and supporting cultural performance groups, and invite them to take part in other Pacific cultural events.This type of involvement is a good foundation upon which to build an even deeper level of involvement, that is, engagement where parents and schools work together in collaboration to support their Pasifika students’ learning and achievement. 
Pasifika parents may be hesitant and uncertain about how they can become more engaged with their child’s or young person’s learning. In such cases, schools will need to be creative and proactive in developing their engagement with Pasifika parents and communities.

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Things to think about

If your school has significant involvement with Pasifika parents, list the reasons why this is the case. 
How could you build upon these relationships to more fully engage your Pasifika parents in ways that support teaching and learning outcomes for students? 
If your school does not have significant engagement with Pasifika parents, list the reasons why you think this is the case.What could be the next steps for increasing engagement?


Involvement and engagement of schools with parents and communities can have reciprocal benefits. There are many ways in which parents might be involved in school, or their children learning. But for various reasons this can also be difficult. The pressures of work, community commitments, and church or family responsibilities can have an impact. Sometimes parents' own experiences at school can be a disincentive to participation. This is where schools need to be creative and flexible in the ways and means by which they engage parents and communities, so that student learning can be supported.
Favalu Peni – Nurse
Most of Pacific Island parents love sports, and there is always a lot of support from parents when they have rugby. And I always wish that that support that goes on the field should be in the classroom too. 
Paul Murphy – Principal
We still have big engagement in cultural and sporting activities. Where parents feel that they are coming from strength. You have no problem if you are running a big cultural festival, you have more than enough parents prepared to help. And that is because they come as the experts so they feel comfortable. So it's a perfectly natural reaction.
Lise Vaila'au – University Student
My parents have always been supportive of what we have done. And I'm not just saying that cause dad is sitting here. They've been supportive ever since we were young. It's not about what makes them happy, but what makes us happy and makes our future more promising. 
Fatu Fuatavai – Company Director
My dad was retired and he used to come out every pension day to shout me lunch. Those sorts of things keep you going, yeah, you knew they didn't have much money but they were trying their best for you, and their payback was for you to do well.
Taani – Year 13
My mum is a single parent so she has been looking after me since I was born, yeah. So she is pretty strict on my school work. She always makes sure that I do at least three hours homework every night. If training gets in the way she makes me stay up and wake up every morning at six for bible study.
Filiva'a – Year 11
They don't really do anything, they just come to the meetings, and yeah, and then they just listen, see what is going on, and then they will start encouraging me. I think what they are doing right now is probably the best, cause if they come too much into school and then they will probably ruin it.
Phillipa Mulqueen – Dean Year 11
Language is often an issue because a lot of parents weren't educated in New Zealand. I have learnt other languages myself and lived in a place where I fumbled in another language, and didn't feel like a competent adult.
Fana To'omaga - Parent
It's quite hard to encourage some of the Pacific parents from the teachers' point of view because they do see teachers as the law. You know they know what is right, they know what to do, so we'll leave it to them. How do you break that down, well I think...I think talking, communication, one on one. 
Getting parents involved with the school and establishing positive relationships is the first step. The next step however is to find ways where teachers and parents can engage in mutual learning conversations that will in turn will increase achievement for Pasifika students.
Carol Jarett – Deputy Princpal
I think we need to know about all our students as learners. It's nice to know a little bit about them personally. But our business with them is as a learner. Pasifika parents like all parents are an equal part of the equation. I love parent teacher interviews. When a parent comes I learn as much as I impart. You find out the other side of the story, and when you understand your student, or the child you're teaching then you do a better job.
Nua Silipa – Pacific Education Coordinator
That relationship needs to be absolutely focused on learning, that means going beyond the superficial, supporting, fund raising, sausage sizzle, that sort of thing, it's absolutely about the students progress. It's about getting good information from the school, so that the teacher knows their role, the parents know their role, and they are working together. The difference between involvement and engagement is the deeper level relationship. Involvement is that superficial but still important, but engagement is where you really get the involvement and understanding support of the parents with the teachers. And that just adds that richness. And you just will have that young person growing and being nurtured in the relationship between one or the other.
Brother Steve Hogan – Principal
The great thing was to hear what the parents said were their needs, and across the three groups they said they didn't know what to do. They wanted to help but didn't know what to do. That was a common element. Yes they thanked us for inviting them. Yes we have thought about this, but we haven't been helping our son because we just don't know what to do.
Diane Mara – Pacific Researcher
Pacific parents want see action not words. I think that words are good, policies are good written on bits of paper, but unless you actually walk the talk, if you actually demonstrate what you mean, and that is what I mean about teachers finding ways in which to incorporate parents. Parents have to see that the teachers are serious about it in terms of you know, I really do want to know about your background, I do really want to know about how things operate at home.
I think primary school is a good model. In primary schools parents walk in and out of classrooms, they come and see what their children are doing, they come and celebrate with the children and it's fine. But yeah I mean teenagers don't want their parents to be around them all the time. I mean that is any teenager. But if we.....they still like their parents to be here, like I mean they adore their parents when they come for a rugby practice, or cultural practices. And if we educate our students by saying well its the same thing, them coming into your classroom, and celebrating with you, Mum is here just to see, I think will go a long way. I think teachers need to be educated to in accepting parents to come in, be more friendly, and trying to relate to them in a way that they can understand.
Diane Mara – Pacific Researcher
Our Pacific parents are getting involved at the oanga mata level and that's I think flowing through into primary and intermediate school, where I think parents are growing more confident in terms of approaching the school, finding out what is happening. And I also think that with the New Zealand born parents, they are also probably know a little bit more about the system and probably are more prepared to find out what is happening. So I mean all parents want the best for their children, not just Pacific parents. But I think for Pacific parents they have had to overcome some of the shyness, and some of the lack of confidence in English perhaps. But I think that is actually changing, and I think teachers need to know that is changing.
Nearly one in five students in New Zealand will be of Pacific Island descent by 2015. And by then our current student population will be a major earner and parent group in New Zealand. What is going to make a difference for them. How can we do things differently so they are all achieving to the best of their ability. What investment can we make in the future our our communities?
Diane Mara – Pacific Researcher
Well first of all I've talked about the challenge for Pacific Students is actually from the adults that are responsible for them, the teachers and the parents as well. In terms of listening to students, in terms of you know helping them through the stages of what they need to do in terms of their identity, and their self esteem and their learning and stuff. But I think the next steps down the road really are addressing underachievement of Pacific Students. So we can have the fia fia days, we can have the umu's and we can have the parents engaged. 
But until we can actually show or demonstrate how that has a pay off for our Pasifika students you can still perhaps think well what good is this doing. Schools should be focused on giving the children the skills that they will need for employment and for living in our world. And particularly when they actually focus on reading, or writing or maths. Cause that is what schools are about.
Brother Steve Hogan – Principal
They are the next generation. Our task is to find new strategies to raise achievement. To develop citizenship so these young people can take a rightful place in New Zealand's society.
Fa'amatuaini Tino Pereira – Parent
So I think there are two ways - one we need to be proactive, but teachers need to engage parents to demonstrate to them how can they become proactive. How can they become part of the child's learning, without compromising other aspects of child rearing.
Mary Tafale – Parent
You fellows go to school here, you lucky. You have the opportunity, the doors are there for you to read, to write, to travel, to trips, to things that I never went. I never went to a zoo. Back home probably only the pigs, and the chickens, that I feed, and the goat. But here giraffe, you know how would a child....see a monkey, we only see them in pictures or movies. But here they have the opportunity. And I encourage my kids to grab those opportunities, because education is really important.
Theresa Year 10
Being a Pacific student in NZ school I'm really proud, really proud of my background. It's a great opportunity to share my background with those who aren't aware of it.
Fatima Year 12
We need teachers to help us feel comfortable about being ourselves, and being proud of being a Pacific Islander. And if we don't have that pride we won't have that belief in ourselves.
Fa'amatuaini Tino Pereira – Parent
At the end of the day Pacific people came to this land with a dream. And the primary dream was to get better education for their kids.