Community engagement is one of eight principles in The New Zealand Curriculum that provide a foundation for schools' decision making. It is about establishing strong home-school partnerships where parents, whānau, and communities are involved in and support learning. This requires deliberate action to connect and build relationships to:
Partnerships with whānau/iwi and the wider community can be enhanced by the use of technologies. Technologies facilitate on-going reciprocal two-way communication between students and parents, giving parents anywhere, anytime access to their child's learning. This leads to improved learning outcomes for students through blended, culturally inclusive, and sustainable practices.
Principal, Dave McShane, teacher Susan Lee, and kaumatua from Te Kura o Kutarere discuss how technologies have helped to engage the local community to support and share students' learning.
Digital technologies can enable:
Promoting two-way communication between home and school is the most relevant aspect of home–school partnerships.
Supporting parents to engage with their child's learning through technologies strengthens home-school partnerships.
Some parents will need support to use the tools and technologies in use. Consider providing support in ways that work for your parents, for example through:
Finlayson Park is a decile 1 school with many families that do not have access to the internet. The school provided free lunchtime teaching sessions for parents on how to use computers and access the internet. Benefits included improved engagement for students, and the development of a strong partnership with parents.
Join the discussion group – Connecting home and school
There has been recognition of the importance of reciprocal two-way communication to enhance the understanding of student backgrounds and learning needs; to consult with parents, whānau, and communities on school priorities; and to engage in collaborative goal setting.
Use these discussion starters in conjunction with the e-Learning Planning Framework to identify your current practice and some next steps in developing the use of digital technologies to engage with your community.
How are you using digital technologies to connect with parents and whānau? Consider this in terms of supporting parents to:
To what extent have you implemented strategies to inform and consult with the wider community about cybersafety, and digital citizenship?
How are you using digital technologies to support teachers and students to connect and collaborate with relevant groups from the local community and wider world?
What digital technologies do you use to interact with your community? How do you use these technologies to build relationships and support communication?
What steps could you take to engage your parent/whānau community so they interact and participate in their child’s learning?
What technologies could you use to open different channels of communication to meet the needs of your parent/whānau community?
Are you supporting students to use digital technologies to connect with outside experts as part of their learning?
Use these e-learning examples and resources in conjunction with the e-Learning Planning Framework .
Survey your community and collect information on their:
NZC online | Tools – Tools you can select from to survey your community and gather information.
Use this information to inform your communication planning.
Identify ways you can use digital technologies to connect with parents and whānau to:
Consider your approach to using social media – use the online guide, Using social media to connect with your community
Plan ways to help parents understand and use the tools their children are learning with – explore, Digital citizenship and online safety in the community .
Identify ways you can engage with Māori learners, whānau, hapū, iwi, and Māori communities to understand their views and what they can offer to support learners. Te ika unahi nui wānanga – A marae-based learning programme illustrates a learning partnership between the local marae and Coastal Taranaki School, where traditional skills and learning through digital technologies were merged.
The engagement of whānau/iwi and wider community networks are enhanced by the use of digital technologies. A deeper level of engagement can lead to improved student achievement through culturally inclusive, and sustainable e-learning practices.
Use digital technologies to:
Hillcrest Normal School teacher, Michelle Macintyre shares how technology has enabled parents to be involved in different ways with students' learning. She explains, at their classroom learning celebrations they have been engaging parents with technology in practical ways. Creating videos of learning experiences facilitates discussion between students and parents, particularly for English as a second language families. The class blog has become a portal for parents to interact with. It's become an e-portfolio where student progress is shared.
Digital resources, and examples to support schools as they consider community engagement.
Useful examples of practice are described in this report from ERO and the Ministry of Education.
These pages include examples of schools making use of digital technologies to connect with their communities, and describing the benefits to learning and teaching.
This page outlines technologies that are suitable for different types of communication.
e-Portfolios provide anywhere, anytime access for family/whānau and the wider community to view and comment on students’ learning.
See the e-Portfolios page for further information and school stories on setting up and using e-portfolios in the classroom. e-Portfolios are a type of real-time reporting. See the real-time reporting page to explore how real-time reporting can foster genuine home-school partnerships, and raise student achievement.
Renee Strawbridge (DP Mt Biggs School) explains how they use Seesaw to connect parents and whānau with student learning.
Staff and parents from Kimi Ora School share the benefits e-portfolios provide for engaging families with students' progress and for transitioning students from the school to a day base.
The benefit for students, staff, and parents of using e-portfolios to communicate and collaborate are shared in this video from Kimi Ora School. An important outcome has been improved teacher practice as a result of reflections and information shared.
Electronic school newsletters are a common and effective way for a school to communicate items of interest to its community. They are intended to form only one part of your overall communications strategy.
There are many ways to create and publish a newsletter including:
Keeping an archive of newsletters on your website could be useful for your community.
Russell Street School used a blog post format within Google docs to create a paperless newsletter. Deputy principal, James Rea explains the process they went through to set it up. The school admin team is responsible for overseeing the newsletter. It is set up so that the school principal and teachers can post directly to it. Students are invited to post as well.
The school community response has been positive. Including pictures and videos creates a more engaging view into the school news. The newsletter is searchable, and hyperlinks to sports draws and other notices makes accessing information easy.
Social media provides a rich opportunity for schools to engage with their community.
See the Using social media to connect with your community page for further information and school stories on setting up and using social media to engage your community.
Rosin Lamb, Communications Manager at Pakuranga College, explains how they use social media to connect with the community. They use a number of online tools to manage their various communications channels. This has become an opportunity to work with parents to help them understand how social media can support community engagement.
School apps and parent portals are available to keep the community informed about dates, times, events and notices.
When integrated with the school’s student management system, they might also enable the timetable, assessment, and achievement information to be made available to parents and students through a secure log-in.
Some apps and portals enable parents to notify absences, update contact information, provide permissions for trips or make payments.
A school app should be integrated as much as possible with the school website and social media so that information is consistent across each platform.
Browse videos from our media gallery collection for ideas, examples, and resources.
Te Kura o Tiori Burnham School principal, Rob Clarke talks about setting up Taha Māori @ Te Kura o Tiori as part of their school website.
Associate Principal and Senior Team Leader at Te Kura o Tiori Burnham School, Linda Sweeny, explains the process for setting up Blogger for students to use as an e-Portfolio.
Teacher, Jacqui Innes from Russell Street School describes how students individual e-portfolios and the class blog serve different purposes but work in conjunction with each other.
Russell Street School teacher, Jacqui Innes, describes the process and benefits of planning explicitly for what students will share on their e-portfolios.
Principal, Dave McShane, teacher Susan Lee, and kaumatua from Te Kura o Kutarere discuss how technologies have helped to engage the local community to support and share students learning.
Students and teachers talk about how they share their work, the ease with which they can do it, and the different tools they use.
Finlayson Park School work with the philosophy of doing more for many with less. They have set up a free after school study centre for students to allow them access to computers and the Internet as many families don't have Internet access from home.
At the KidsCan film festival in Nelson 70 students were put together for three days to create films. Kellie McRoberts describes students' development of e-competencies within this project.
Principal Jane Danielson explains the different applications they are using to connect with their community.
Rob Clarke principal of Burnham School describes the benefits of using e-portfolios in the school community to connect with parents.
Rob Clarke, principal of Burnham School, explains the importance of face-to-face meetings in terms of successful whānau and community engagement with e-learning tools.
Students at Burnham School found the process of creating and sharing a mihi, which involved engaging with their families and the community to research into their past and using technology to share that with their parents/whānau for feedback, was valuable.
James Rea, DP at Russell Street School, shares how they are using Ustream to live stream their school assemblies.
James Rea, DP at Russell Street School, shares how students are using their library blog to post book reviews and character profiles.
Technology enables access to the Internet and removes communication barriers for Wadestown School student, Renée Patete.
Sue Martin uses stop motion animation with her students to promote narrative skills, particularly sequencing and retelling.
Sally McDougall and her students explain their process for writing book reviews and creating QR codes to share them with the wider community.
Hillcrest Normal School teacher, Michelle Macintyre shares how technology has enabled parents to be involved in different ways with students' learning.
Parents from Holy Cross School explain how they are able to connect easily with the school, using mobile devices and different forms of digital media.
Holy Cross School student, Coretti and her mother, Fiona Tuffs, discuss how using a mobile device makes access to schoolwork easier. Corretti explains how the iPad is changing the way she learns.
Holy Cross School principal, Kathy Moy-Low explains how they consulted with and engaged the parent community in e-learning. Parents explain why they attend the after school parent technology sessions.
Staff and students of Ruawai Primary School used student voice to share with their parent community the ways in which digital technologies are used to support learning, and to share what students are learning with their families.
Staff at Mahurangi Christian School discuss how the school connects the classroom to the community through digital technologies.
Principal, Richard McCosh explains how they used the e-Learning Planning Framework to identify strengths and areas needing development within their school.
The board of trustees, parent community, and school leadership team at Waerenga O Kuri School explain the collaborative process they used for developing their Māori achieving success as Māori (MASAM) framework.
Waerenga o Kuri student, Herepo Wynyard talks about how the involvement of her whānau both online (through her e-portfolio), and face-to-face at school has encouraged success with her learning goals.
Connor Fitzgerald-Mansell, a student from Hillcrest High School, describes the benefits of bringing his own laptop to school.
e-Learning teacher Mervyn Cook and student Connor Fitzgerald-Mansell, from Hillcrest High School, discuss the benefits of being able to connect via ICTs during outside of scheduled class time.
Motu School principal, Paul Cornwall explains the process they went through to setup a framework for Māori achieving success as Māori (MASAM).
Motu School community talk about the positives of parents engaging in their children's learning.
Parents, BOT, and teachers from Motu School discuss their collaboration around whanaungatanga to create their Māori achieving success as Māori (MASAM framework).
Teacher and e-learning leader, Kate Friedwald explains the information provided for parents at Wairakei School to introduce a BYOD trial for Year 5/6 students in 2014.
Kate Friedwald describes step-by-step the process she went through from researching BYOD to setting up a classroom learning programme using BYOD at Wairakei School.
Parents from Wairakei School describe the benefits that being in a BYOD class has had for their children.
Wairakei School teacher and her student explain why blogging encourages students to produce better quality work because it is being seen and commented on by an authentic audience.
Chris Luke, teacher at Coastal Taranaki School, talks about the Te Ika Unahi Nui initiative, using digital technologies, and the benefits this has had for Māori students.
Students and parents from Coastal Taranaki School talk about the difference marae-based learning has made to their engagement, motivation, and confidence.
Coastal Taranaki School teacher, Chris Luke explains how he connects students' learning at the marae with the learning in the classroom.
Te Ika Unahi Nui is a wānanga (learning) partnership between Tarawainuku marae, Coastal Taranaki School, and the local community.
Halswell School principal, Bruce Topham explains key steps in planning and building an innovative learning environment that is part of the community.
Rosin Lamb, Communications Manager at Pakuranga College, explains how they use social media to connect with the community.
Staff and students from Apiti School discuss the benefits of using e-portfolios to share student learning with parents and the community.
Teacher, Nicki Fielder and students from Apiti School explain the different social media tools they use to connect with parents and the wider community.
Graeme Barber, Principal at Woodend School, discusses the ways in which the Katote cluster works together to create a seamless transition for students moving from primary to secondary school.
Parents from Hampden Street School share how the school’s open door approach gave them confidence that their children’s learning needs were being met in an innovative learning environment.
Pakuranga College deputy principal, Billy Merchant explains their ongoing community consultation process, which includes how and why students devices, and digital citizenship.
Michael Malins, principal at Konini School, talks about the app they use within the student management system to record, "children's progress... to keep the learning alive in the parent's mind and student's mind".
The Leamington Learner concept, or dispositions, is the school’s strategic focus and foundation for enhanced achievement. Owned by the school community, technological capability is an integral component.
Parents of students at Leamington School explain how the school prepared parents and the wider community for BYOD implementation.
E whakaatu ana tēnei ataata i te hononga a te hapori, ka tahi, mā te whakapapa, ka rua, mā te ipurangi, arā ko Pukamata.
Teacher at Newmarket school, Virginia Kung, talks about how they have made connections with people across the world through Twitter and Skype.
Teacher, Reubina Irshad, explains how they create home school partnerships by helping parents to support their child’s learning at home.
Newmarket School teacher, Reubina Irshad talks about how they connected with whānau during their Matariki celebrations.
Lee Whitelaw, Convening principal at Ohaeawai School, explains why they set up a Trust for the purchasing of their Chromebooks and the process they went through to do that.
Ashhurst School Principal, Heath Chittenden, explains how they got teachers and parents prepared before rolling out flipped learning in their school. “Flipped learning is really important to be a school-wide focus because it actually is a pedagogical change to how you approach teaching.”
David Fox, software developer, talks about his mentoring role with Frankley School.
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Related Snapshots of Learning
Originally developed at Sylvia Park School, the Mutukaroa approach is designed to foster the development of fully engaged whānau who understand early years school assessment and how to use that information to support targeted learning.
Te Ika Unahi Nui is a marae-based wānanga (learning programme) that was developed and trialled with students from Coastal Taranaki School at Puniho Pā, Tarawainuku marae in Okato, Taranaki.
Cobden School successfully used digital technologies to build on student learning during New Zealand’s COVID-19 lockdown.
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Resources on reporting to parents and whānau , which support schools to share information with parents and whānau.
Virtual Learning Network
Join these online community groups to participate in discussions. You can access resources shared without joining.
Ruia – School-whānau partnerships for Māori learners' success
A resource guiding principals and senior leaders to work in partnership with whānau.
A collection of tools, ideas, stories, and resources to support the community engagement principle from NZ Curriculum online.
A resource for English-medium schools with stories, reports, statistics, and reviews that reflect effective practices supporting Māori learners to achieve education success as Māori. Te Mangōroa contains practical illustrations of what Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success means for teaching and learning. In the productive partnerships section you will find resources, including video, reflecting the principles of productive partnership and examples of this from schools across New Zealand.
Te Kāhui Māngai
Te Kāhui Māngai is primarily designed to provide information on iwi (tribes) in New Zealand, including their rohe, hapū, marae, and representative organisations. It also includes certain national and Māori organisations.
Engaging with parents
Resources from the Educational Leaders website.
Strengthening local curriculum
Support for school and curriculum leaders with the process of curriculum design and review. It includes information, research, tools, suggested areas of focus, and inspirational stories to help schools make decisions about how to give effect to the national curriculum.
Information sharing and building learning partnerships
Guidance, review questions, activities, examples, and resources to enable deep discussions in your school about information sharing and learning partnerships. These discussions will help to maintain a clear focus on equitable and positive outcomes for all your students.
Early Notification is a text (and email) messaging service that allows schools to customise messages to groups of parents/caregivers to quickly inform them of the unexplained absence of their child/children. It also provides a return path to the school's register to update the reasons for a student’s absence.
The Education Review Office (ERO) evaluated how well 256 schools worked with parents and whānau to respond to students at risk of underachievement. Of particular interest is the Focus on the use of technology in the Findings section, which gives examples of schools working with parents and whānau to accelerate and support progress and improve achievement using technologies.
A two-page PDF summary of the Educationally powerful connections with parents and whānau report. This includes key findings, quotes from students, parents, teachers, and leaders, and an inquiry framework that teachers and leaders may find useful when thinking about how to improve learning partnerships with the parents and whānau of students who are not achieving.
This report brings together information about relationships between families and schools. It gives examples of practices that build effective relationships and highlights the importance for Māori to know who the people behind the school gate are, as well as what those people do. Whānau, primary, and secondary schools were surveyed to find out what they thought about their relationships.
Author: Report for the controller and auditor-general Tumuaki o te Mana Aratoke
The Education Review Office (ERO) conducted an external evaluation in over two hundred New Zealand schools to find out more about the engagement
between schools and the parents and whānau (families and extended families) of their students. This paper provides some historical background and
key findings from the relevant literature before expanding on the six key factors which the evaluation found were critical to enhancing and strengthening this engagement: leadership, relationships, school culture, partnerships, community networks, and communication. The paper concludes with recommendations for ways in which all parties can strengthen this vital relationship.
Authors: Mutch, C. and Collins, S.