07 December 2022
11443 [Parents-family-and-whanau.jpg]

​Partnering with parents, whānau, and communities

Engagement increases when school leaders have vision and are committed to working in partnership with the parents and whānau of all students.

On this page:

On this page:

Current page section: Parents, whānau, and communities​​

Go to top of current page: Parents, whānau, and communities​​

Show list of page sections

Strategies for action

Four key strategies for building close community networks that support student learning and wellbeing.

Model a commitment to inclusion

Parents expect schools to welcome their child, value the diversity they bring, and work collaboratively to meet their individual needs. 

Four suggestions for implementing this strategy:

  1. ​Value student diversity


    • Video
    • Resources
  2. Understand beliefs, values, and expectations


    • Video
    • Resources
  3. Partner with whānau


    • Video
    • Resources
  4. Provide professional development


    • Video
    • Resources

Support reciprocal relationships

Parents want their relationships with school personnel to be based on empathy and mutual respect. Develop ways of working together and identify possible barriers that may inhibit partnership.  

Video hosted on Youtube

Garth Clarricoats reflects on what makes a successful home-school partnership. Garth draws on his experience of being dad to a son with autism.

Three suggestions for implementing this strategy:

Partner with whānau

Develop positive relationships with the community of people who know the student well.  

We are true partners when:

  • you listen to what I have to say
  • you acknowledge my intelligence
  • you want to learn more about my ways
  • you don’t judge me
  • you engage me in genuine dialogue
  • we make decisions together
  • you show that my child matters to you
  • you include my experience, knowledge, and viewpoints with yours.

Source: Partners in Learning: Parents’ Voices (2008) (opens in a new tab/window)

Partners in Learning: Parents’ Voices (2008)

Five suggestions for implementing this strategy:

Build community networks

Invite your community into the classroom and take your classroom out to the community.

Indicators of an inclusive culture:

  • Everyone is made to feel welcome.
  • Students help each other.
  • Staff collaborate with each other.
  • Staff and students treat one another with respect.
  • There is a partnership between staff, parents, and whānau.
  • Staff and the board of trustees work well together.
  • Local communities are involved in the school.

Two suggestions for implementing this strategy:

Key resources


School partnerships self-audit tool

This tool can be used to consider current community-school interactions and find out more about community values and expectations. It supports gather and analysing information to gain an understanding of strengths, gaps, and needs.

Publisher: The New Zealand Curriculum Online

Family whanau file2

Family/whānau file

A booklet to help parents of students with additional needs to brief their child’s school.

Publisher: Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga


Inclusive Practices Tools for self-review

The Inclusive Practices Tools provide schools with ways to engage staff, students, and their communities in the review of their inclusive practices.

Publisher: Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

More options

Browse all guides