School, home and community partnerships

Aboriginal family

Developing and maintaining genuine home–school partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents and caregivers is essential for a supportive school environment which aims for improved educational outcomes.

Many educators talk of the importance of ‘high expectation relationships’ between educators and parents/caregivers (Sarra 2011; Fanshawe 1999).

According to DEEWR (2011), research indicates that family and community–school partnerships benefit the school, the student and the family. Benefits to students are improvements in:

  • self esteem
  • engagement in learning
  • participation in more challenging subjects.
  • [English] literacy and numeracy outcomes
  • attendance
  • completion of homework
  • behaviour at home and school
  • connection to school and learning

Such partnerships rely on educational leadership and the involvement of key support people such as the relevant education officers supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education and local community groups providing advice about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education.

Schools and early childhood education providers that work in partnership with families and communities can better support the education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. These partnerships can establish a collective commitment to hold high expectations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people … . Evidence shows that children who are expected to achieve at school and who have high expectations of themselves are more likely to succeed.’ (MCEEDYA 2011)


Strengthening family and community engagement in student learning resource

Family – School Partnerships Framework: A guide for schools and families

Sustainable school and community partnerships: A research study

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High expectations relationships

Activity: Reflect upon the kinds of relationships we want to develop with our students.

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Fanshawe, J 1989, ‘Personal characteristics of effective teachers of adolescent Aborigines’, The Aboriginal Child at School, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 35–48.

Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEEDYA) 2011, The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan 2010–2014, MCEEDYA, Education Services Australia, Carlton South, Victoria, viewed 30 August 2016 <>.

Sarra, C 2011, Time for a High-Expectations relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia, viewed 30 August 2016, <>.