Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth

Australian Parent Engagement Network Convenors

Danielle Cronin

Deputy Director, National Catholic Education Commission

“My heart sings when I see a school community really humming – where families, staff and young people themselves have a shared sense of responsibility for the learning and well-being in that community. It doesn’t (often) happen by accident, it takes a shared commitment, a spirit of collaboration and innovation and being intentional. It can also take some courage and resilience as you learn together and try different strategies to find what works in your particular community. Over the more than 10 years that I’ve worked with schools and community groups in this area I’ve seen how schools’ understanding of the research has grown and how it has evolved their practice in really exciting and meaningful ways. The ARACY Parent Engagement Network provides an immensely exciting opportunity to continue to grow our collective understanding and share great practice.”

Shelley Hill

President, Australian Parents Council

“Every family and school community is different but the aspirations of all are the same – we want all our children to be happy and succeed. The ability of parents to understand their vital role as first and continuing educators, engage with their child’s learning both at home and at school, with the encouragement and support of the whole school community, is essential. The Parent Engagement Network provides a wonderful opportunity for everyone to learn from each other, share best practice and work together and I am very excited to be part of this group of committed people. Having four sons, I have come to understand the value and necessity of my engagement in their learning journeys, which was promoted and supported very early on by inspirational teachers, schools and importantly, other parents.”

Greer Johnson

Director, Griffith Institute for Education Research

“We have known for some time that Parent Engagement is a key factor in optimising children’s potential for learning yet it is still unclear how best to harness the resources that all families offer children in the pursuit of learning. I have agreed to co-convene the ARACY Parent Engagement Network because it offers an unprecedented opportunity to work with a group of enthusiastic colleagues and learn more about how to strengthen parent engagement inside and outside schools.

“My particular passion is to increase schools’ understandings of the hidden work that families, especially those difficult circumstances, do to help their children learn at home. I am also interested in re-examining the concept of ‘hard to reach’ families. An interesting article on this topic is:

  • Laura Watt (2016). Engaging hard to reach families: learning from five ‘outstanding’ schools, Education 3-13, 44:1, 32-43, DOI: 10.1080/03004279.2015.1122321

“I have recently completed a project in Alice Springs with The Smith Family that demonstrates how an NGO can broker partnerships between schools and families to support children’s learning.”

Carmel Nash

Executive Director, Federation of Parents and Friends in Catholic Schools Queensland

“Engaging Parents in learning and wellbeing and working together with their child’s school in order for all children to have their own learning success is crucial. Parents work throughout their children’s lifetimes to educate them and the schooling phase is an important part of this journey but learning happens everywhere and from birth to death not just at school.

“More than forty years of research shows that engaging parents in learning and wellbeing works - so building knowledge so that every parent in every school has the opportunity to engage in learning and work closely with their child’s school and at home is important.

“The ARACY Parent Engagement Network will provide access to greater resources and so empower parents and families with greater confidence, further knowledge and experience to engage with their own child’s learning.

“I have worked for more than 30 years in school parent organisations and passionately believe that parents and families must take their rightful and recognized place as first, ongoing and most significant educators. I am very honoured to become a co-Convenor of the ARACY Parent Engagement Network to be able to influence national strategy, policy and collaboration as well as providing support and leadership for families in their homes every day.”

Catherine Phillips

Regional Programs Manager, The Smith Family (NT)

“I feel very fortunate to be able to collaborate with a group of similarly committed people from around Australia who see parent engagement as a vitally important part of ensuring every child has the best chance to achieve a great education. My staff and I have been implementing parent engagement strategies for a number of years in the Northern Territory. We have seen the wonderful outcomes when parents have knowledge, skills and connections with the school community. They grow in confidence, become great advocates for their children and help to build a thriving and dynamic school community.”

Phillip Spratt

President, Australian Council of State School Organisations

“Parent Engagement is the term that captures and recognises the vital role of parents as the initial and primary educators of their children – a role that is life-long and amplified in symbiotic partnerships with the teachers and other educators in a child’s life. The Parent Engagement Network allows the latest research, on-the-ground practice and parent perspectives to be shared in an open forum that will allow us all to learn from each other – an exciting prospect that as a Co-Convenor gives me an active role facilitating this essential conversation.”

A/Prof Christine Woodrow

Centre for Educational Research, Western Sydney University

“I have been fortunate to undertake research about parent engagement in many different contexts, including the Atacama Desert in northern Chile! More recently I was project leader for an Australian study of parent engagement conducted in conjunction with ARACY. Our data provided important insights into the complexity of this issue and the importance of a contextually relevant and collaborative approach. I am really pleased to be a co-Convenor of the Parent Engagement Network and to collaborate with others on promoting and better understanding this important issue associated with children’s wellbeing and educational achievement.”

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