Questions about partnership with parents, families and whānau

How important is it that we find out parents’ views about children’s learning and wellbeing at school?

  • You should talk with parents, families and whānau about what they want for their children. They will help you to identify the priorities for your school’s curriculum and future goals for the school’s development.
  • You should engage parents and whānau in decisions that impact on the wellbeing of their children.
  • You should be particularly aware of, and seek, the aspirations of distinctive groups in your school community such as Māori, Pacific and groups from other cultures.
  • NZSTA and the Ministry of Education have developed resources, Hautū – Māori cultural responsiveness self review tool for boards of trustees and Effective governance, supporting Pasifika success to support boards of trustees to meet their accountabilities by reviewing cultural responsiveness in their school.

What information should we give our community about student achievement?

  • You should give your community information about student achievement patterns across the school. In primary and intermediate schools this would be specifically in literacy and numeracy in relation to the National Standards, but may also include other curriculum areas.
  • At secondary school you would report on NCEA results, but also achievement patterns for Years 9 and 10.
  • You will also need to report to Māori and Pacific families, as well as those from other cultures about the achievement of their children. In small schools you will need to be careful that individual students are not identifiable because of the small numbers.

Do parents, whānau and families have enough opportunities to be active partners in their child’s education at the school?

Parents should feel welcome to visit the school and take part in school activities. School reports should provide parents with information that clearly explains their child’s progress, level of achievement and wellbeing. Parents should:

  • be encouraged to approach their child’s teacher for further information on their progress
  • be supported to become active participants in setting their child’s learning and social goals, in partnership with their child and the teacher
  • be shown ways they can support their child’s learning
  • be provided with sufficient opportunities to express their views about the school.

The principal should give you information about the level of parent involvement in the school, such as attendance at parent group meetings, and parent help in the classroom and on school trips. The board may want to collect information about whether parents are satisfied about  their relationship and involvement with the school, through written or telephone surveys, consultation meetings and other community  events.

What part do trustees play in making decisions about teachers’ professional development?

  • Boards usually set a budget for teacher professional learning and development. During the development of the budget you can ask what the development priorities are.
  • Targeted, professional learning opportunities for teachers can help them improve their ability to raise student  achievement.
  • Professional learning and development should align with priorities identified in the board’s annual plan. You can also see how the priorities are connected to the achievement information you have received during the year.
  • Often there will be some particularly skilful teachers in a school. Other staff members can benefit by drawing on their knowledge and experience. As a board, you may decide to help this by providing resourcing so that a teacher can be released from class to watch and learn from another teacher in action, either in your own or another school.
  • You may receive requests for additional funds for such things as conferences. Teachers and leaders should be able to explain how they think the conference will benefit students at the   school.
  • Such conferences often provide opportunities for teachers and leaders to share ideas with, and learn from, their colleagues in other schools.
  • You should receive feedback about the impacts on teaching or student achievement from any courses or conferences the board has funded.

How should trustees monitor the principal’s performance and progress with improving student achievement?

  • As trustees you are responsible for making sure that the principal’s performance is appraised each year. You may contract an outside consultant to do this.
  • The appraiser will report back to you, in committee, as to how well the principal has achieved their goals for the year. This can be done in writing as a full report or as a summary of the appraisal report, as per the board’s appraisal policy.
  • You should have input into the goals that are set as part of the principal’s performance agreement. These should link to the board’s goals and will probably include goals to raise student achievement. Approved achievement targets should be included in this performance agreement.
  • The board’s policies should include information about the principal’s right to speak to the appraisal report. It should also be clear that the board is able to hold discussions about the principal’s employment, or anything related to it, including the appraisal report, without the principal being present.

Are trustees responsible for using student achievement information to set performance goals for teachers?

  • The principal is responsible for ensuring all staff are appraised. They should report to you when appraisals have been completed for the year. You should receive general feedback about school- wide teaching successes and next steps.
  • Some schools include aspects of strategic and annual goals and student achievement targets into individual teachers’ goals. They then report to trustees on the outcomes of these for teachers as a whole.