2014 Parent Engagement Project

The 2014 Parent Engagement Project

Each year the group which leads Learning Auckland identifies one or more targets to focus on, and establishes action groups to work on those targets. For 2014, the focus was to increase engagement between schools and their communities, through increasing attendance at parent-teacher meetings.  

The project built on the successful experience of a group of Auckland secondary schools as part of the Starpath project.  These schools have increased parent engagement through a four-part project:

  • Changing parent-teacher meetings from 2 minutes with each of several teachers to 20 minutes in a three-way conversation between the parent, student and one lead teacher who follows the students’ progress throughout the year
  • Focusing the conversation on the student’s progress towards their long-term and short-term learning goals and how the parent, student and school can contribute
  • Holding meetings during the day to signal their importance – and so all parties are fresh
  • Sending a letter from the school for parents to take to their employer to ask for time off to attend.  Schools report that most employers are happy to grant leave for teacher-parent interviews, to support their employees and their community.

We aimed to increase the number of schools using this effective model, and to increase the number of parents at these schools who are attending the meetings, through supporting from three separate angles:


Parent Engagement Forum

As part of our parent engagement project, Learning Auckland held a very successful Communicating Learning Forum. Over 180 people participated from Auckland schools and ECEs.

The forum, which was on May 16th 2014, brought teachers, senior leaders and board members from several education sectors together to discuss practical ways to engage parents with their children’s learning.

Parent Engagement Forum 1      Parent Engagement Forum 2     Parent Engagement Forum 3      Parent Engagement Forum 4

The Learning Auckland event was co-run by COMET Auckland, NZEI and PPTA, and created an opportunity for guests to share knowledge and ideas in a collaborative forum. Professor Stuart McNaughton from the University of Auckland delivered the keynote speech: Enhancing conversations among whanau, teachers and learners about learning.

The aim of the event was to support schools and ECE in building a strong, learning-focused partnership with parents and whanau. Going by the level of interest in the forum, it was a topic that many schools and early learning services were invested in.

The feedback received from guests at the forum was hugely positive, with many having found new ideas and ways of working that they learnt at the forum, and are eager to implement them in their own settings.

Many thanks to Storypark who donated to Learning Auckland to make access to the presentations and videos from the Forum for everyone possible. We greatly appreciate the support.

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To access the great material from our speakers:

Presentations (click on the link)

Parent engagement in Early Learning settings

Jean Rockel, The University of Auckland


What parents want from reporting – research and practice

Dr Cherie Taylor Patel, Principal, Flanshaw Road School


 Key findings on parent engagement from the Starpath project

Joy Eaton, The University of Auckland


Plain language reporting - research and practice

Dr Wendy Kofoed, Principal, Newmarket Primary School

Practical tips for getting buy-in and implementing three-way conferences

Martin Henry, PPTA; Moana Va’aelua and Peter Thompson, Otahuhu College


Mutukaroa - engaging learning conversations with families

Noeleen Fox-Matamua, Sisi Key and Jason Swann - Otahuhu Primary


Whanau and community/iwi engagement and data tracking to support students at risk of not achieving NCEA

Rachael Laurenson and Brian Evans, Ministry of Education




Student Voices: How parents engage with my schooling


What I want from my child's school: parent voices


To see how the event went, click this link for the story or look up the hashtag #communicatinglearning on Twitter.

Anticipated outcomes

The overall expected outcome is to increase engagement between parents and schools in the participating schools.  This is a first step which will set a strong base for future work by the schools themselves, and through Learning Auckland, to strengthen learning for students at school. 

The side benefits identified for the key groups involved in the project are outlined in the following table:







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