What stops parents coming into schools

Show video transcript

Title slide: What stops parents coming into schools?

Anna Smythe, (speaking), Acting Principal with Rosaline Tavelia, Deputy Principal, Kingsford Primary, facing camera

We've certainly had our challenges in bringing our whānau in, in terms of breaking down those barriers that do exist between home and school. And in my experience I've found that when I've worked in schools where you predominantly, you know pakehā, you know parents are sort of quite happy and comfortable to come on in and have a chat. So one of the big pieces of work that we've got going on right now through our strategic plan is around partnerships, those educationally powerful partnerships, but basing them on reciprocity. So teaching our staff that when our, our whānau come in, it's actually about what can I learn from you as much as what they can learn from us and getting that change in mindset. 

Getting the teachers to even make the call and take the first step you know even overcoming that as a barrier in our school has been massive. Because we are dealing with you know a lot of teachers who have trained overseas, who haven't been educated in New Zealand either as children or as adults with their teacher training. So they're grappling with a massive culture shift which is something we're also trying to manage but leverage at the same time. 

You know like in my role is like with SENCO, you know I'm not in the classroom. Every family that I talk to have been nothing but grateful and open and inviting, like they just want the best for their kids. And like it's just it's easy like it's just, it's so easy it doesn't have to be hard. Just just make the call or just step out of your comfort zone and you just get warmth and love back and just a really strong desire for their kids to do well.

Parents with young child

Joseph, Ostten, Josh, Xavier, Year 12 Students, Rosmini College, Auckland, facing camera

Some of the barriers that ah stop our parents coming into our interviews is probably the language barrier and our parents not understanding any of the achievement standards.

Niue Students, Manurewa High School, Auckland, facing camera

Because there’s like, they look at our parents differently because, maybe because of how we are and who we are.

They think our parents are fobs. Like, not being rude but like, they think that they don’t understand what they’re trying to say and like that they have to dumb it down for our parents - or for my parents at least, yeah. 

Year 12 Students, Rosmini College, facing camera

Barriers that stop our parents from, you know, coming to school is ah the, the hard work. Hard workers. Teachers don't know what, what they do at home outside of school, is that's probably one of the barriers that, um probably one of the reasons why parents don't, you know get involved in school. And if they do come to, if they did come to parent interviews, for example, teachers should just explain everything about what's been going on at school. 

Niue students, Manurewa High School, facing camera

Like a lot of the teachers, see like, us in our parents. They don’t think like occasionally, they won’t be seeing eye to eye and I’m not sure how some parents will take it. That’s kind of a worry in my mind.

Metui Telefoni, Year 13 Student, Rosmini College, Auckland, facing camera

I think they're just a bit shy like, um, teachers won't know like, my parents are quite fresh so they're quite shy of meeting the teachers and having to associate with the teachers but not be able to talk back to them confidently. And that's I think that's one of the hardest boundaries just holding them back.

Year 12 Students, Rosmini College, facing camera

They could break it down into small pieces so our parents could try and understand.

Fua Sofaea, (speaking), Grandparent, Parent and Jamie Sofaea, Aunty, Rosmini College, facing camera

I think a lot of it it's just approachability you know. Because sometimes for example, I know my role as grandparent stops at my door but I'm sure if somebody says can you make yourself available to come in and see whether they’re Niuean kids or Samoan or Cook Islands. And I'm sure that we've got the same values. So if we can sort of tap into and communicate in that respect maybe, that could be one of the roles that we could be asked to come.

This video looks at barriers that prevent parents from coming into schools. The teacher in the video speaks about challenges in bringing whānau into school and overcoming barriers that exist between home and school. It challenges teachers to take steps to get parents involved because strong education partnerships are the key. The Pacific learners in the video share their thoughts about why parents are not coming to school. Pacific learners then talk about language barriers and parents not understanding the achievement standards and how this stops parents from coming into schools. Teacher perceptions are another issue when teachers have limited understanding of what parents do outside of school and at home.

Relevant turu
  • Turu 2

Reflections for individual teachers

As you watch this video, ask yourself if you have the active, ongoing participation of parents and primary caregivers in the education of their Pacific learners?

  • When parents are not coming to school, how can you find out about parents’ involvement with their childrens’ education, for example, helping with homework and discussing school events?
  • Think about strategies to reach out to parents who do not come into school. Think about the channels of communication you can use, and how to actively seek feedback from parents.
  • How can you effectively involve parents? How can you break down some of the barriers highlighted in the video?


Reflections for staff or departments

As you watch this video, as a staff member or a member of department staff, think about your school and if they foster high quality, successful parent involvement.

Discuss what successful parent involvement looks like. Think about the things that prevent parents from coming into schools. What are the barriers to successful parental involvement?

We know from the video that one thing that keeps Pacific parents from getting involved is their discomfort about school. That discomfort often stems from parents not knowing how to get involved. How can your school commit to encouraging parental involvement? How can your school take an active role in enabling parents to become involved in a variety of ways?