Improving learner outcomes

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Opening the School Gate resource | Planning for engagement

Targeting communities

If you are part of a large, culturally diverse school, you may not be able to work with all the migrant and refugee families at once. You might need to work with one group first. You could start with:

  • those most in need or ‘at risk’ or under-represented in school activities
  • the largest cultural group in the school
  • groups that you have previously contacted successfully
  • established communities
  • new and emerging communities in the school.

It can be difficult to decide which groups are most in need or at risk to work with in your school.

It is worth looking at any data or anecdotal evidence you have around social indicators or participation rates of students such as academic achievement, retention rates, absenteeism and welfare concerns as well as your previous experience in engaging particular student or parent groups.

Not all family structures are the same. For many overseas-born communities, extended family relationships are very important. Many young people arrive in Australia without their biological parents and may be in the care of relatives or a sponsor who is known to the family.

At enrolment, find out who should be contacted in relation to the student. For some families it is important that the head of the family (such as an uncle who may not be the legal guardian) is involved in important decisions relating to a student. Others may expect an older sibling to attend meetings as an advocate on their behalf. Family roles may shift over time as relationships change. Rather than discourage different types of support, involve significant family members in a way that meets the needs of the family and primary carers and the legal requirements of the school.

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