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Part Three

Understanding and Using the School and Community Partnership Agreement Resource Kit

A conversation about the mutual obligations as a consequence of School Partnership Agreements. A conversation about the mutual obligations as a consequence of School Partnership Agreements.

A resource kit produced by the Department of Education's Aboriginal Education and Training Directorate is available to all schools with a significant Aboriginal enrolment on request from the District Office. Most if not all schools who fall into this category will be required to have these agreements in place by the end of 2011, including Partnership Schools.

So what is the purpose of a School and Community Partnership Agreement?

The aim of a school and community partnership agreement is to improve the educational outcomes of Aboriginal Students. Principals, teachers, parents and caregivers have a significant impact on the learning outcomes of students. Working in partnership can therefore help to improve these outcomes. [Resource Kit]
Key elements with working with your community. Key elements with working with your community.

These agreements will be seen as an effective step towards strengthening the relationships between school and community and as in all schools the stronger the parent engagement in the school and its objectives, the more likely it is that a healthy learning environment develops. As stated in Leaders Lead Online real partnerships occur where there is a sense of joint commitment to ensuring student success.

Most importantly the first step in the process requires principals and teachers to believe that their Aboriginal students can, and will, achieve appropriate performance levels alongside their non Indigenous peers. Having a belief in high expectations of Indigenous students is paramount to their success at school and in later life.

The resource kit provides clear outlines in developing effective partnerships and the focus will be on strong engagement of the school's Aboriginal community. Principals will find that such agreements will make the expectations of parents and teachers much more explicit.

Drawing together the school and the community through an agreement. Drawing together the school and the community through an agreement.

Getting Started

The kit stresses the importance of total support and commitment to the agreement by the school's staff. This is an important aspect of 'getting started.' A successful partnership will also not work without the involvement of parents, caregivers and other community members and the resource kit provides examples of persons who might be asked to become involved in such an agreement.

Getting Started [Resource Kit p5] will recommend easy to follow strategies for implementing the agreement process. It is important that costs involved be planned for in the annual school budget. These costs may include

  • Venue hire for meetings
  • Facilitator costs
  • Parent transport to attend meetings
  • Refreshments during meetings
  • Publishing the agreement
  • Function to launch the agreement
  • Training

Costs will vary and should be adapted to the location. In some cases all, some or none of the costs listed may apply.

Section 4 of the resources kit gives very clear outlines on the development of school and community partnerships. These include

  • Getting Started
  • The Role of the Principal
  • Engaging the School Staff
  • The Role of the Teachers
  • The Role of the Aboriginal and Islander Education Officer
  • Engaging the Community
  • Meetings
  • The facilitator
  • Developing the Agreement
  • Risk Management
  • Implementing the Agreement
  • Monitoring and Reviewing the Agreement
  • Linking the Agreement to the School Plan

Besides the focus on partnerships, the resource kit can also be the basis for valuable support in the areas of building relationships and communicating with your community. The importance of community engagement should never be underestimated. Directors and Managers in the field consistently acknowledge this as a powerful contributor to an effective and achieving school.

...engaging with the Aboriginal community is not always easy...high level skills are required, considerable cultural sensitivity and high expectations...
[Larry Hamilton, Director Schools, Goldfields WA]
...community politics is very difficult to interpret especially for non-community persons. However, being respectful of community ways is integral to working together successfully
[Vicki Jack. Director Schools, Pilbara WA]
...community engagement must be based on respect, trust and integrity. This means informing, consulting, seeking advice and other collaborative strategies that foster genuine community engagement..
[Edith Wright, Manager Aboriginal Education, Kimberley WA]
...community engagement must be central to each Principal's daily routines. It is not good enough to say "we are an inclusive school every one is always welcome here"...
[Bill Mann, Director Schools, Kimberley WA]
...engaging the community means responding to community values and cultural needs and ensuring the school acknowledges culture with respect and dignity at all times...
[Michael Duncan, Director Schools, Esperance WA]

Much has been said and written about planning and organizational arrangements. Agreements are agreed upon. Partnerships are determined. The School Plan is laid out. This module has opened a discussion about leadership. Not withstanding the desirability for direction and planning, leadership is also about humanity, when leaders take the true risk to be their real selves.

Leaders are not aloof, superhuman, super-intelligent loners. People want integrity and effort, honesty and genuineness and contact and competence from leaders. Leaders who are transparent in their feelings, ideas and passion can mobilize others through their humanity...and unite people through power of ideas and values. That is how challenges become victories.
[Goens,George A. "Leadership and Illusion Leadership in School Administration]
What do we stand for as teacher and Principal? What do we stand for as teacher and Principal? Flash video title -Key Principles
  • The purpose of a School and Community Partnership Agreement is to improve the educational outcomes of Aboriginal Students.
  • These agreements will be seen as an effective step towards strengthening the relationships between school and community.
  • The resource kit provides clear outlines in developing effective partnerships and the focus will be on strong engagement of the school's Aboriginal community.
  • The kit stresses the importance of total support and commitment to the agreement by the school staff.
  • It is important that costs involved be planned for in the school budget, for example, facilitator costs and publishing the agreement.
  • The resources kit gives very clear outlines on the development of school and community partnerships, some of which include: engaging the school staff; engaging the community; meetings; developing the Agreement; implementing the Agreement; and linking the Agreement to the School Plan.
  • Engaging the community is central to the Principal's daily routines and means ensuring the school acknowledges culture with respect at all times.
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