Page 943 - Week 03 - Thursday, 19 March 2015

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MS PORTER: Minister, what are parents saying about this project, and how do they want to be involved in schools more generally?

MS BURCH: I am pleased to be asked what parents are saying about this exciting and innovative project, since they are indeed at the centre of it. Through the consultative process and the launch of the publications, I have had many opportunities to speak with parents directly. The message from parents is that they want to be actively engaged in their children’s education. As one ACT parent said:

I think of it as a triangle—the student, the school, and the parents/family.

This project makes the important distinction between parental involvement and parental engagement. Parental involvement refers to parent participation in activities at school. Parental engagement highlights the broader roles that parents play in supporting a child’s learning. It elevates the role of parents by recognising the rich contribution that parents make as partners in children’s learning and wellbeing. It acknowledges that parental involvement is valuable but parental engagement is critical.

With clear information about the key behaviours and attitudes that positively influence a child’s learning, parents can be actively engaged. The purpose of this project is to stimulate the conversation. It is my strong desire that the school boards and parent associations will see this document as generating a conversation about this engagement and what it looks like in their local school. I hope that these conversations will energise the already high level of engagement that we have in existence across our community—and that is because parents in our city recognise the value that they add to their child’s education and learning.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Fitzharris.

MS FITZHARRIS: Minister, what are the next steps in this program? How is it helping to guide the national discussion about parental engagement?

MS BURCH: Our work, as I have indicated, is not yet complete. The project commenced last year and will continue throughout this year. We will continue to work with all the sectors of schooling, as well as parent groups, to identify important strategies to build parental engagement. This project puts the ACT at the forefront of a national discussion about the importance of engaging parents in their child’s education from the very beginning.

As a project with valuable input from all education sectors, parents and teachers, it has enormous reach within and beyond the ACT. Last year I was very proud to outline to my Education Council colleagues—that is, the education ministers from around the country—the work done on parental engagement here. I understand that there is a keen interest in this nationally.

I undertook to share the outcomes of the first phase of this project with my state and territory counterparts. In the coming weeks I will provide the suite of resources to all jurisdictions when I meet with my ministerial colleagues in the near future. This

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