Tags:Community and WhānauStakeholder EngagementEducationPrimaryDiversity

Case Studies
02/02/2020
3 min read

Evolving the way principals engage parents

Everyone comes to a school from a different background, and it is the job of the school to cater to and communicate with everyone on their own terms. 

If the school fails on this front, they will likely fail to engage the community when they need it. Kohia Terrace School, with an incredibly diverse cultural background, ran into this issue after completing their strategic plan.  

Background: Building a plan

Alison Spence, Principal of Kohia Terrace School (KHS), came to the Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme (SLPP) in 2014. She had been in the role for eight years, and during the course began engaging parents over the school’s strategic goals.  

However, this presented some unique challenges. A decile 10 school, KHS has a 50% NZ European roll, with the other half comprised of Chinese, Indian, Pasifika, Sri Lankan, Māori, Fijian, Filipino and Latin American ethnicities – just to name a few.  

As the roll grew increasingly diverse and Alison aimed to communicate her strategic plan, a strong parent engagement strategy was absolutely critical.  

The project: Canvas the community

It began with a meeting. Alison came to Springboard Trust in October 2015, a year after completing SLPP. She worked with a volunteer Subject Matter Expert, Rich Easton, to refine the school charter and scope out projects for the following year.  

At this point, they involved Deputy Principal Philippa Campbell, who was to spearhead a KTS Parents Guide.  

“My goal was to enable parents to pick up what makes us KTS, the Kohia Terrace School.” 

Sign outside Kohia Terrace School

The project included a series of mini surveys in the school newsletter, to better understand parents’ perspectives on the plan. The leadership team held a number of engagement sessions, targeted at parents of different ethnic backgrounds to obtain rich information on how they wanted to engage with KTS.  

Springboard Trust provided specialist assistance in the setting up and analysis of these surveys.

The results: Sparkle and engagement 

Through feedback and understanding, KTS began displaying important components of their plan throughout the school. This ensured that parents, teachers and students were familiar with the school’s values.  

KTS also provided clear channels for feedback and suggestions from anyone in the community, and all communications with parents and whānau are aligned with the strategic plan.  

This was reflected in a parent / teacher / student night, which had record attendance levels of above 90%. With a plan and some persistence, the community has come together as one.  

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