"In New Zealand we have a growing body of research showing the impact of educationally powerful connections and relationships on student outcomes in a range of contexts. This research identifies that establishing educationally powerful connections and relationships with parents, families, whanau and communities provides access to a greater range and depth of resources to support the education endeavour; enhances outcomes for all students, in particular those who have been underserved or who are at risk; and achieves large positive effects in terms of student academic and social outcomes."

School Evaluation Indicators, page 28

In this report, the Education Review Office (ERO) evaluated how well 256 schools worked with parents and whānau to respond to students at risk of underachievement. We looked for examples where schools had specifically worked with parents and whanau to accelerate and support progress and improve achievement.

We know from research that most parents and whanau have friendly relationships with schools but for relationships to positively impact on learners, they must be 'educationally powerful'. The establishment and sustenance of educationally powerful connections is so important that it is one of the six domains in the School Evaluation Indicators, and is cross referenced in the leadership domain and the responsive curriculum domain.

This report tells the stories of schools that have developed effective relationships with families and whanau. It includes many examples of Maori and Pacific children - these are the children for whom the system has underperformed and, as for all learners, for whom culture, language and identity is especially important for their connection and engagement with learning and school.

The examples in this report are the result of principals, teachers and boards challenging themselves to do better, changing their mind-sets and often acting outside of their comfort zones so that their students succeeded. There are some very moving quotes in these stories; I encourage you to read the report and let it influence how you engage with parents and whanau.

This report, along with ERO's School Evaluation Indicators, and our soon-to-be released Effective School Evaluation and Internal Evaluation: Good Practice tell you what's important in achieving and accelerating positive student outcomes.

Iona Holsted

Chief Review Officer

Education Review Office

November 2015