Special Guest Blogger – Nathan Hayes, Deputy Principal, Tenison Woods College

A significant challenge for all leaders is creating a culture of contribution within their organisation. Individuals contributing beyond the direct responsibilities of their role to build the Core are a significant factor in developing a culture that people want to be part of.

A challenge I suggest all school leaders face is finding the most effective approach in inviting the parent community to contribute in a range of ways in a voluntary capacity. Amongst the every growing list of family commitments, where does contributing to your child’s school community sit?

A range of commitments compete for our attention and time, it made me think, why do we contribute to the communities we are part of?

Within a school context, working bees, bake sales, classroom volunteering all assist the school and can save money; in schools, as with all not for profit organisations, getting the most out of every dollar is the constant challenge. This isn’t the ultimate reason for contribution and parental engagement specifically. A true benefit of parent involvement in schools is the benefit to the child, the benefit to ‘your’ child. Research clearly shows that the level of parent engagement in a child’s school has a direct positive correlation to educational outcomes. There is evidence that shows a positive correlation between the level of parental involvement in a school community, and the academic outcomes of students. This parental involvement is not speaking of specific involvement in academic aspects schooling; it is simply stating a culture of high parental engagement in a school community, has a direct positive impact on outcomes for students.

The key take away in this instance for me is that delivering the message around contribution is ongoing and necessary. I am personally not aware of a magic bullet approach to maintaining high levels of parental engagement. I do know that it is a challenge all school leaders must continue to embrace as the pay offs in having an active school community is worth every ounce of effort. Every school leader aspires to creating a safe environment that allows students to thrive; an active parent community is a significant contributor to achieving this goal.