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Coming to school for special events is rewarding for Pasifika parents if the school makes them feel welcome and the focus is on their children’s achievement and strategies to extend their learning.
Most Pasifika parents want their children to succeed educationally and are prepared to help in any way they can. Many want their children to have a better chance than they themselves had.
When their children reach secondary school level, many Pasifika parents need additional guidance on how best to help their child at home and how to access information or services to support them in that task.
Limited facility in English should not be an obstacle. In school-family-community collaboration, the use of liaison people of the same ethnicity to assist seems especially important as it allows the partnerships to be built on shared cultural understandings. The time together is well spent if the school takes steps to make Pasifika parents and families feel welcome and supported and the focus is on their children’s achievement with practical suggestions for how they can also contribute.
“There is clear evidence that programmes... depend for their success on families being treated with dignity and respect, on the programmes adding to family practices (not undermining them), on structured, specific suggestions rather than general advice, and on supportive group opportunities as well as opportunities for one-to-one contact…”
The Complexity of Community and Family Influences on Children’s Achievement in New Zealand: Best Evidence Synthesis, page vi
Thanks to the Principals, staff and students of Aorere College, McAuley High School, Mangere Bridge School, Sylvia Park School, Mary MacKillop School and Wymondley Road Primary School for their contribution.
Things to think about
Things to think about
- What strategies does your school use to make the school a welcoming environment for the parents and families of your Pasifika students? How effective are they? What could you improve and why?
- What advice does your school give to Pasifika parents? How effective is it? How do you know?
- Do you provide your Pasifika parents with additional educational resources so that they can help their children with their learning at home? If so, what are they, and how effectively are they being used? How do you know?
- What practices have you used in your teaching as a result of discussions you have had with parents and families of your Pasifika students, and what have you learned from them? How effective have they been?
Margaret - student
What makes my parents feel welcomed at this school, the teachers invite them at every event that we have. They’re welcomed to every student lead conference that we have every year, so that’s made them feel welcomed to the school and not left out.
We found our older parents have a negative connotation of schools; you’re the teacher you teach. We pick him up at three, you do your job we do ours at home. That was it. So we're trying to break the barrier down and get them into the school to make them feel welcome here. Especially if they’ve had a negative impact on their own schooling. This is a nice place, it's a safe place, they can come and talk to us. So we’re doing lots of inviting in for events, celebrations, showing the culture too, so having cultural dance festivals, having food. Having a place where their children can play while they want to talk to us, so all those things. Having someone at the office who can speak the language.
What we’re doing, working with parents with times that suit them, where it suits them, it’s easier for parents, so they’re more willing to come. And they do care, and we are talking to other teachers and things, and they’re talking about, you know I'm not sure this parent really wants to come, and yet with what I'm doing I've had like 100% attendance by parents, which just shows that they care.
Our parents are really busy and you know they are working, they've got families, they've got all sorts of other commitments. So when we want to talk to them we've got to talk to them about the grunty stuff, the stuff that makes a difference. And we know that the stuff that makes a difference is their children's data, the real information. We know it's rich information, that's often been the domain of the school and now it's time to share it in all its glory.