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Engaging Pacific parents and communities

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We are preparing to close this site soon as this content has now moved to  Tāhūrangi.

Tāhūrangi is the new online curriculum hub for Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga | Ministry of Education.


“It is like a bird needing two strong wings to fly.”

Partners in Learning: Parents' Voices (ERO, 2008)


Reviewing community engagement in your curriculum 

As you develop a school vision for community engagement at you school, consider the following:

  • In what ways does your school gather and use information about the needs, wishes, and aspirations of Pacific parents and the wider Pacific community?
  • In what ways could you inform Pacific parents about their children and communicate information about the school?
  • How well does your school engage Pacific families in the life of the school?
  • How can you ensure that everyone in your community feels a sense of ownership for the wider school vision and for the community engagement vision?
  • How will you ensure that engagement with Pacific families is sustainable and always evolving?
  • How would you rate your current level of Pacific community engagement?  What are your next steps?
  • To what extent do partnerships with parents and families enable consideration about students’ competencies across school and home contexts?
  • What systems, initiatives, and programmes in your school best support the achievement of an inclusive school community?

For more information, see the ERO report School Evaluation Indicators 

Ideas to engage your community
Diana Tregoweth outlines some of the approaches in place at Owairaka School to encourage parent, family, whanāu, and community engagement in the school.


Tools to try

School partnerships self audit tool
This self-audit tool looks at current practices for working with students' families and at aspects of the school organisation and school culture that affect home-school relationships.

Conducting community engagement workshops
Schools can select from these comprehensive workshop materials to support community engagement initiatives.

A possible process for community engagement
Once you have gathered information from your school community, consider the process you might use to act on the findings.

Involving parents in community engagement

School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying What Works and Why Best Evidence Synthesis

The School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying What Works and Why Best Evidence Synthesis (BES) (2009)
Identified the most effective home-school partnerships as one in which:

  • parents and teachers are involved together in children's learning
  • teachers make connections to students' lives
  • family and community knowledge is incorporated into the curriculum and teaching practices.

Asking questions of parents gives you accurate information, and helps the school to be more responsive:

  • How do the partnerships with parents and families at our school help you to support your child’s learning?
  • What are your expectations of teachers and of the school?
  • What are the important parts of your child's life outside of school?
  • What responsibilities are expected of your child in the family, the home, and outside of school?
  • What do you expect for the future of your child? How do you think we could help them achieve this?

Community engagement – a parent's perspective
Saga Frost is a parent at Owairaka School in Auckland.

She discusses what it is like to be a partner in the learning community at her school and reveals that she didn't realise, until she got involved, how much she could impact on her child's learning.

She challenges other parents to see themselves as someone who can add value. "You add value at home, you add value at your church, you can add value at your school as well."

Involving students in community engagement

Getting to know the Pacific students in your classroom provides more information about the Pacific community in your area than any other source.

Finding out about students' lives and aspirations can give you insight into the values and aspirations of the Pacific community too. It will also underline the diversity within the Pacific population at your school.

Involve students in learning conversations with their parents and in designing ways to involve the community in the school.  Students are often able to help with differences in languages between home and school and can be a vital part of home-school communication.