Policy for Engagement

Rational

Middle School West Auckland (the Villa) recognises the importance of productive partnerships with parents, family, whānau, iwi and the wider community in enabling all students to achieve to their full potential.

We also acknowledge the cultural considerations required when developing productive partnerships; particularly given the culturally diverse community the Villa will be operating in.

Purpose

This policy sets out the guidelines and processes for developing productive partnerships that focus on strengthening support for learning, improving communication and encouraging parent, family, and whānau involvement in their child’s learning and in the Villa.  

It also makes explicit and acknowledges the need for culturally appropriate engagement with iwi and other community groups. Removing barriers to communication and developing shared understandings and ownership of the journey of the Villa and its students is critical.

The purpose of this policy is to:

  1. ensure there is equitable access to the Villa for all students in the local area and its immediate environs;
  2. enable culturally appropriate communication with parents, family, whānau and the community, including iwi, hapu or mana whenua representatives, on the Villa’s yearly progress and achievements;
  3. encourage parent, family, whānau and community involvement in Villa life;
  4. work with parents, family, whānau and the community so they have the information and training they need to better support and become more involved in the learning process;
  5. work with local organisations to support our families and whānau where appropriate;
  6. promote learning and achievement across the community;
  7. strengthen support for learning for all learners from parents, family, whānau and the community; and
  8. promote high attendance levels Villa wide.

Guidelines

We are realistic that it may take time for learners, their parents, families and whānau to engage fully with us in a collaborative and productive partnership. To achieve the purposes described above the following practices and procedures will be embedded into the Villa culture and operations:

  1. The role of the Community Liaison Manager will be critical for the success delivery of this policy. S/he will be supported by the Villa Education Trust and Villa leadership in all areas.
  2. We will be visible across the local community and available to those interested in learning more about the Villa.
  3. We will follow the principle of titiro, whakarongo…korero (look, listen and then speak). We will not flaunt our knowledge (kaua e mahaki).
  4. A communications plan will be developed that reflects the preferred means of communication for our parents, families and whānau as well as other key stakeholder groups. We will utilise a range of communication means including print, electronic and face-face.  In all instances this communication will be interactive rather than a presentation of the Villa view. The  means of communication will include, but not be limited to:
    1. The Villa website will be used for the dissemination of information relevant to the Villa including the educational model, who to contact for further information, the curriculum, school activities and achievements.
    2. Local community meetings will be held to promote the Villa and we will be visible at community events.
    3. Information leaflets will be readily available.
    4. Where invited we will attend meetings and other organised community gatherings to facilitate communication with key stakeholders in the success of our students.  This could include local church groups, the local marae or other taurāhere organisations.
    5. Our Community Liaison Manager will engage the support of community members in ensuring key messages are delivered in a transparent, culturally appropriate and jargon free manner.
  5. Our Community Forum group will provide an opportunity for the Villa to interact with the community, to share information across a wide audience.
  6. A close working relationship will be developed with community agencies and organisations including regular meetings and discussions.
  7. We are cognisant that Māori in the Waitakere area account for 12.26% of the population and is the fifth largest grouping of Māori in New Zealand (based on 2006 census data). We will work closely with mana whenua and mataawaka representatives through both formal and informal communication. This will include, but not be limited to, oral presentations at mutually agreed events and an annual report which will be available to key stakeholder groups. Informal communication will be on an ‘as needed’ basis and operate through our open door policy and the accessibility of our Community Liaison Manager.
  8. In order to identify taurā here organisations we should develop reciprocal relationships with, the Community Liaison Manager will consult with Te Whanau o Waipareira Trust as well as the Independent Statutory Board for Auckland.
  9. The achievements of our learners will be celebrated in local newspapers and other appropriate media such as local organisation newsletters and community meetings. We will also utilise the communication channels of our partners in this journey.
  10. An open-door policy will operate with parents, family and whānau welcome to the visit the school, to talk informally with teachers and to look at their child’s work.
  11. We will also welcome other key stakeholders who are interested in the wellbeing and success of their students. The support of the wider community is critical to the success of the Villa.
  12. The Villa will have a designated whānau or aiga space where families can feel comfortable, access a computer if need be and get advice from the Community Liaison Manager. Brochures and information about local community support groups and educational opportunities will be available.
  13. The Villa will be offered as a resource for a range of programmes and support groups for the wider community where appropriate. Such programmes will support the families and whānau of our learners to become partners with us in their learning. Programmes will be flexible and need-based determined in collaboration with the community.
  14. Villa learners will be highly visible in the local community through their afternoon programmes.
  15. The use of community members, parents, family and whānau as learning resources and tutors will be actively encouraged.
  16. The Villa leadership, including the Community Liaison Manager, will be proactive in their approaches to ensuring high levels of attendance, looking for solutions to any barriers to attendance, rather than waiting for problems to appear. We will not hesitate to involve the appropriate truancy authorities if a problem persists.
  17. Classrooms will be positive learning environments for all learners. When learners are actively engaged, see purpose in what they are doing and feel that their point of view is valued they will be more likely to attend.
  18. Formal iwi and community engagement will occur at least twice a year. A number of different engagement opportunities will enable us to meet the diverse interests and needs of the wider community.  However, we consider the informal, as needed, engagement opportunities provided through our community approach to be as, if not more important.