Page 942 - Week 03 - Thursday, 19 March 2015

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MS BURCH: I thank Ms Porter for her question. The ACT government is committed to delivering the best schools and the best education, and it is my mission to ensure that families and students are at the centre of the education system. We know parents are children’s first teachers and play a critical role in their learning. We also know when schools and families work together there are significant and long-lasting positive impacts—children improve academically and are more engaged in their learning, have better relationships with others and are more confident learners.

My commitment to putting families and students at the centre of the education system was prioritised in the progressing parental engagement in the ACT project. This project brings together research undertaken by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, in partnership with the Education and Training Directorate, the Catholic Education Office and the Association of Independent Schools. I am very pleased to have recently launched a suite of resources including: the Progressing parental engagement publication, parent and carer and teacher fact sheets, and the EDUCATION CAPITAL: our evidence base defining parental engagement report.

The Progressing parental engagement publication was based on local, national and international evidence and provides a definition of what parental engagement is and the behaviours that best support learning outcomes for children. It is intended to be used by families, schools and communities across the ACT in supporting a shared understanding of what parental engagement is, why it matters, how it works and how best to foster it.

The resources, including a fact sheet specifically for parents and carers, outline the simple things a parent can do at home, and with the school, to help their children do their best. The definition provides a strong, shared understanding based on solid research of why parental engagement matters, how it works and how best to foster it. It outlines what parental engagement is and what it is not. Consistent understanding between schools and parents about what parental engagement is and how best to do it is critical to enabling positive, long-term outcomes for children.

We know that effective parental engagement is happening in our schools. The definition promotes, formalises and evaluates the significance of parental engagement and provides a roadmap for the future. We now have more than a notion, through this ARACY work and its definition, that parental engagement yields results. We have a strong evidence-based foundation to lead us forward. The definition and suite of resources provide the evidence base for future and ongoing policy and practice across our schools.

Critical future work includes developing a framework for measuring parental engagement. Four pilot schools will trial a survey to measure the current levels of engagement and track changes over time. Resources and strategies to support schools and families to strengthen the engagement will be available this year. This is nation-leading work and it is significant in shaping our policies, renewing education in the ACT and improving outcomes for our students.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Porter.

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