What is the Government doing to improve parent engagement?

The Government is actively working towards improving community awareness of parent engagement and supporting parents to be positively and actively involved in their child’s learning in partnership between home and school.

The Government is committed to ensuring each and every Australian child can reach their full potential so they can fully participate in the economic and social life of the community.

Parent engagement wais one of the four pillars of the Government’s Student First education policy framework because research shows parent engagement is positively associated with improved student achievement, behavioural, social and emotional outcomes; leading to longer term economic, social and emotional benefits. [i]

Current Government Activity

Research into parent engagement

In the 2014-15 Budget, the Government provided $4 million over four years (November 2014 to June 2018) to the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) to undertake targeted research and develop resources to help parents better engage in their child’s education.

Evidence shows that increased parent engagement is one of the key factors in improving a student’s educational performance and wellbeing.

School communities, including principals, teachers, parents and students, will all benefit from the relevant research and development of resources, which will improve parent engagement in education and contribute to improvements in student learning and wellbeing.

Further information on this project is available here - www.aracy.org.au/projects/parent-engagement-project

Refresh of the Family-School Partnerships Framework materials

The Family-School Partnerships Framework supports the Australian Government’s Students First Policy, with a key pillar being to engage parents in education. The Government contracted the Family-School and Community Partnerships Bureau to undertake a process to review and refine the national Family-School Partnerships Framework (2008) materials to ensure relevance in the context of current education policy.

The revised Framework materials build on the original Family-School Partnerships Framework, using current national and international research, which shows that family engagement in education is fundamental to improving student learning, from early childhood through the school years and beyond.

The revised Framework materials are scheduled for release in late 2016.

Learning Potential

In the 2014–15 Budget, the Government provided $5 million for a Parent Engagement communications campaign to raise awareness about the important role that parents play in improving the education experience for their children.

The core focus of the Government’s Parent Engagement communications campaign was the development of the new free Learning Potential mobile app for parents, which can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play. The app provides parents and carers with practical tips and information on how to be more involved in their child’s learning - from the high chair to high school.

The Government also released a website for parents who may not have access to the Learning Potential app.

Parent Website with curriculum resources

The Government has commissioned Education Services Australia to develop a website that provides free, quality assured and Australian curriculum aligned digital resources and ‘offline’ activities that can be used by parents to support literacy and numeracy learning for primary school aged children. This project is underway.

Expansion of Learning for Life Program

The Government has committed $48 million to expand The Smith Family’s Learning for Life Program, which supports disadvantaged children and their parents.

The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program recognises that disadvantaged children need extra support to stay at school and go on to further studies or a job. Learning for Life helps create better futures for children in need by providing:

  • financial assistance from a sponsor to help disadvantaged families afford the cost of their child’s education;
  • support from a Learning for Life Program Coordinator to connect the child and their family to local learning opportunities and other supports; and
  • access to Smith Family educational programs to help children get the most out of their school years.

Further information on The Smith Family’s Learning available here.

Engaging with national representative parent bodies

The Government provides funding for three peak parent bodies - the Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO), the Australian Parents’ Council (APC) and the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA).

These three parent bodies are the Government’s national representatives and they receive funding to ensure that the voices of parents are heard in education policy development.

ACSSO is the peak national organisation representing the interests of the parents, families and school communities attending government schools throughout Australia.

APC is the peak national organisation representing the views of parents in the non-government sector, including both Catholic and independent sectors.

ICPA is a national peak parent organisation representing over 4500 member families. The association represents the interests of families living in isolated areas advocating for rural and regional education issues from early childhood through to tertiary education. 

[i] Emerson, Fear, Fox & Sanders, 2012.