Educationally powerful connections with parents and whānau


This image shows a mother and her two daughters

ERO’s November 2015 report shares the ways schools parents, families and whānau successfully worked together to support students who needed to accelerate their progress.

Educationally powerful connections involved two-way collaborative working relationships that reflected the concept of mahi tahi – working together towards the specific goal of supporting a young person’s success. The best examples were learning-centred collaborations between students, their teachers and their parents and whānau that focused on the student’s learning and progress.

A whānau-like context was established in which parents, teachers and students all understood their rights and responsibilities, commitments and obligations – whanaungatanga – to help the students succeed.

The intent of the relationship with parents was to extend learning across the home and school. Teacher and leaders that understood this intent:

  • listened to what whānau knew about their child’s interest and what worked for them
  • involved parents in setting goals and agreeing on next learning steps
  • developed a share language about learning and achievement with students and their parents and whānau
  • valued students wellbeing and were genuinely interested in them and their whānau

As a result students’ progress accelerated.

When school leaders designed initiatives that focused on particular students that needed to accelerate their progress, teachers systematically strengthened their working relationships with these students’ parents and whānau. Leaders used an inquiry framework below to help teachers:

  • make time for frequent and regular conversations with parents and whānau to learn more about who each student is in the wider context of school and home, in order to develop holistic and authentic learning goals and contexts
  • extend learning by designing and putting in place multiple and aligned learning opportunities where students could learn at school and at home
  • evaluate how well these learning opportunities support parents and whānau and are aligned between home and school
  • be persistent and keep using what worked, change and improve what did not work, and transfer what worked to support other students and their parents and whānau.

Inquiry framework

this image is the framework for inquiry which five circles forming a large circle joined by a arrow linking all circles together. Outside of this are four boxes in each corner. At the centre it reads: School has evidence of impact. Students have been deliberately supported to inprove outcomes.  The five circles read from top clockwise: Identification of students at risk of underachieving, Identifying learning strengths and needs language identity and culture, intrests and aspirations, Respond wiht deliberate actions and innovations to improve student outcomes, Recognise the impact of the actions that influenced the improved student outcomes and Refocus on next actions.  The boxes in the four corners read from top right clockwise: 1 - to know who the student is in the wider context of school and home in order to develop holistic and authentic learning goals. 2 - to extend learning by designing and implementing multiple aligned learning opportunities. 3 - to evaluate the multiple aligned opportunities to know what worked for whom, when and why. 4 - To be persistent and: sustain what worked about the relationships for the students involved, change and improve what did not work, transfer what worked to more students and their parents, families and whanau.