There are exciting things happening to the Council at North Balga Primary School.

In 2010, school survey data revealed, amongst other issues, a low overall school image and a serious lack of parental communication(mainly the result of the presence of 39 different languages in the community).  Now, things have changed for the better and (former) Principal Ros Kay credits her involvement with the Fogarty EDvance program and support from what she calls her “knowledgeable and inspiring mentor” as the catalyst for the transformation.

“We were aware that research shows children achieve better outcomes when schools, families and the community work together to support student learning,” says Ros.  “We ascertained that the missing link for us was providing clearly aligned and formalised community engagement opportunities.”

With the goal of strengthening the School Council and engaging parents high on the agenda, during Term 2 and 3 of 2013 Ros and her team contacted the Subiaco Football Club who, for three years, had been supporting the School in developing an Aboriginal student leadership program.  Through the Club, three community members were appointed from a range of backgrounds.  This was a real morale booster for the school, which in 2012 had just one community representative.

With three committed parents already on the Council, Ros then identified others whom she believed could contribute positively and productively to the governance of the school.  She called and met with them and was able to recruit another two parents to the Council, increasing the number of parents on the Council from three to five. She believes making parents feel valued and important in this way made all the difference.

Once the new Council was established, the challenge was to support the parent members who may have felt overwhelmed by what was expected of them in meetings.  One innovative approach was to use community member councillors to ‘model’ meeting interactions to parents so that the parents could get comfortable with the process.

It is a credit to Ros and her team for encouraging this wider participation from parents and others; we hope this only serves to strengthen North Balga Primary School’s links with its community over time.


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