Community engagement crucial for educational success

When the family is engaged with education, so are the children.

Education targets for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are not on track, according to the 2018 Closing the Gap report.

School attendance rates appear to have stagnated and have even gone backwards in the Northern Territory, from 70.2 per cent in 2014 to 66.2 per cent in 2017.

Whilst the gap in literacy and numeracy skills has narrowed, only year 9 numeracy is on track across all states and territories.

Despite the negative statistics, some schools are seeing positive results, which they’ve attributed to the strong relationship between the school, and the community and families.

Education is not just about teaching children in the classroom, it’s about engaging with families, Elders and the community as a whole, and allowing them to have a say in their children’s education. When the family is engaged, so are the children.

Charlie (Wilbur) Klein is the principal of Tjuntjuntjara Remote Community School, located over 600 kilometres north-east of Kalgoorlie in WA. He was earlier this year shortlisted for the Global Teacher Prize award for his incredible contributions to his students and community.

Having worked in regional and remote education for the past 20 years, Klein has developed an effective leadership style in which he incorporates the whole of the community. Tjuntjuntjara Remote Community School now operates on a school-community agreement, which includes teaching on country and including other people’s skills and knowledge.

Klein will share the successes of his work at the upcoming National Indigenous Education Forum, held in Perth on the 22-24 August.

Other education leaders sharing their work include: John Rangiteremauri Heremia, Principal at Te Wharekura O Rakaumanga, who will be sharing the evolution of Maori education; Lionel Bamblett, from the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association, who will share how they collaborate with community and government bodies to see systematic and sustained change; Taffi U‘ilei Wise from Kanu o ka ‘Aina Learning ‘Ohana in Hawaii who will speak about Native Hawaiian Charter School Alliance’s education model; and Ricky Grace, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Girls Academy, will speak about how to get the community involved in the school.

Visit the National Indigenous Economic Development Forum’s websitefor more information.

2 Comments on Community engagement crucial for educational success

  1. Schools working alone in isolation from the communities they serve are simply “bashing their heads against a brick wall” and stand absolutely no chance of improving Indigenous Student Learning Outcomes. Success will be entirely dependent upon the extent to which these children’s parents and extended families are directly engaged in the decision-making processes and involved in curriculum delivery. We must never ignore the “power of the home” and its unlimited potential to make a positive difference in supplementing, enriching and further enhancing the opportunities our schools provide. Goals are achievable but certainly not when the educative role of Indigenous families fails to be fully harnessed!

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