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Community based organisations and parental engagement with schools

January 13th, 2010

I’ve just been reading an interesting article called “Beyond the Bake Sale: A community-based approach to parent engagement in schools”.  This article discusses three different school- community collaborations in the USA.  Although each collaboration was slightly different in emphasis and approach, all three shared some key features.  In each case a community based organisation was the initiator of the home-school partnership, rather than the school itself.  There was a focus on relationship building among parents as well as between parents and educators, a focus on the leadership development of parents and an effort to bridge the gap in culture and power between parents and educators.

The authors contrast the approach in this community-based model of parental engagement with a more traditional school-centred model. In this community based model the emphasis is on building relationships among parents as a basis for collective participation, rather than on involving individual parents.  The starting point in the community-based model is to create conversations to allow parents to articulate their concerns, rather than inviting parents to workshops or other activities.  When workshops are run, the focus is on the parents’ leadership development and personal growth, rather than on providing information. Parents are involved in setting the agenda.

I would be interested in hearing about any New Zealand examples where community-based organisations are brokering relationships between schools and their parent groups.


Warren et al. (2009) Beyond the Bake Sale: A community-based relational approach to parent engagement in schools. Teachers College Record 111(9), pp.2209-2254

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  1. Miriam Tuohy
    | #1

    Hi Ally, this is not a NZ example, sadly, but something the very cool Darien Library are about to start, helping parents learn about and use some of the technologies becoming commonplace in schools:
    Seems to me this is the kind of thing schools and libraries here would be perfectly placed to do themselves, if they had a mind to. Admittedly, it’s more of the “workshop” variety than the kind of relationship brokering you’re talking about, but focussed on tools that would be so useful for fostering relationships and communication between parents and schools.

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