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Parents, families, and whānau information needs

The Ministry of Education has a requirement to provide policy advice to government on how to better support parents, families, and whānau to make informed decisions about:

  • school selection for their child
  • school-wide information about children’s learning and wellbeing
  • their child’s learning progress, achievement, next steps, and wellbeing.

The scope is all parents, families, and whānau with Years 1 to 8 and Years 9 to 13 children, with a particular focus on reaching the priority group of Māori and Pasifika students whose progress and achievement is below the national cohort.

The Ministry contracted Colmar Brunton as a third party to undertake exploratory research that sought the views of a range of parents, families, and whānau in relation to their information needs. Capturing the authentic voice was an important part of this research. At this stage no attempt has been made to look at these findings in relation to other research about effective engagement with parents, families, and whānau.

This report by Colmar Brunton describes the main findings from research that provides valuable, in-depth insights about the information and communication needs of parents, families, and whānau when they are:

  • choosing a school for their child
  • seeking information about their child’s school so that they can assess and compare their child’s learning progress and achievement with other students at the same level, and know how to ask appropriate questions
  • determining their individual child’s learning, progress, achievement, next learning steps and wellbeing.

The report outlines the factors that parents, families, and whānau in this research consider relatively important or relatively unimportant contributors to their child’s ultimate learning progress, achievement and wellbeing. It also outlines whether these factors are relatively easy or difficult for parents, families, and whānau to access and assess. There are some factors that are relatively important and relatively easy to access, so we can conclude that parents, families, and whānau are well served in terms of this information. There is some information that is relatively easy to access, but actually does not have a very important impact on their child’s learning progress and achievement.

The key focus needs to be on the factors that parents, families, and whānau think are important in their child’s 
learning outcomes but, for a variety of reasons, are difficult to access and assess. These factors are the:

  • teaching quality
  • school culture, particularly responsiveness to multicultural or bicultural needs
  • assessment of whether their child is progressing and achieving 
  • social and individual development of their child (wellbeing) and support.

Parents do not tend to be well served by information about these factors, either because it is not provided, it is seemingly difficult to provide, they do not know where and how to access it, it is infrequent, they do not understand the information provided or there are poor relationships and communication between teacher, student and parents, families, and whānau.

Questions / Things to think about

  1. How well does your school communicate with parents, families, and whānau about the factors that the report identifies as important?
  2. How do you know?
  3. Are the factors that the report identifies as an important focus for parents, families, and whānau the ones your parents, families, and whānau would identify?
  4. How do you know?
  5. How can your school create opportunities to work with your parents, families, and whānau to make sure you are communicating the factors that they think are important to their children's learning outcomes?

PFWInformationNeedsResearchReport19Sep2012 (937 KB)

Filed under: productive partnerships | effective leaders

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