This year our College theme is COMMUNITY. Great schools are strong communities where students, teachers and parents feel they belong and are contributing. To that end, we all need to maintain our commitment to build strong relational bonds which empower all members of the community to work in partnership to achieve the very best outcomes for our students. Research indicates that the accumulation in social capital generated through community engagement is a powerful driver of school improvement.
To help us in our efforts to build a stronger community, we recently sent out an online survey to gather parents’ perceptions of community life at Freshwater. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the 160 families (around 50% of families) who took the time to respond to the survey. Summary results from the survey are presented in the form of statements and charted responses below.
You are made to feel welcome at the College
College staff are approachable when you need to discuss your child/ren’s progress
What are your preferred methods of communication?
The College communicates details of community events effectively
Key findings from the parent survey are as follows:
- Community health at the College is perceived by parents and students to be in good shape.
- A majority of parents expressed their desire to connect more with both college staff, and parents.
- A majority of parents would like to be more involved in their children’s education.
- Communication between the College and parents has improved considerably, however, this is an area for ongoing development.
- A protocol regarding appropriate staff response times to parent emails is required in order that timely communication is maintained.
- Generally college staff are very friendly and welcoming, however, some parents commented on how a minority of college staff do not greet them or smile.
- Student uniform design is a concern to both parents and students. Comments variously conclude the need to review the uniform design relative to the need for flexibility for student learning and play.
College Leadership Team’s Responses to Parent/Student Survey
Our Leadership Team recently spent a day analysing the results of both the parent and student surveys. Here are some of the actions that either came out of the survey review or are new initiatives that we have introduced this year.
- We have appointed Mrs Alana Okuma as our Marketing Communications Officer. Alana is doing an outstanding job working with parents, organising events and reaching out to the wider community.
- Alana has established a team of Parent Class Ambassadors to provide parents with support, connection and information.
- We plan to conduct a review of current new student induction processes/welcome events this year.
- Later this year we will conduct a forum to invite parents to have a say in how we address our car parking requirements as the College continues to grow.
- During Term 2 we plan to launch our Uniform Advisory Committee (comprising staff, students and parents) to advise the College Leadership Team on how we might consider improving the College student uniform.
- To more effectively orient new staff to their roles at the College we have developed a new Staff Induction Program.
- Primary staff began the year with an ‘email welcome’ to all parents.
- Additional coffee mornings have been organised for parents to connect with each other. Members of the Leadership Team usually attend these events.
- We are seeking to put in place email protocols to help ensure that all parent email enquiries are responded to in timely fashion
- We’ve improved our pastoral care processes this year. This will help to ensure that students are more fully supported relative to their emotional/psychological needs.
- Our learning support team has been strengthened under the leadership of our Learning Support Coordinators: Caroline Williams in Primary and Sarah Scheurwater in Secondary.
- The College Newsletter has an improved layout with upgraded distribution protocols.
- We will explore ways in which we can provide students with a ‘stronger voice’ within the College.
- We will explore how we can continue to build on successes like the Buddies Program and House System as we seek to strengthen whole-school community.
- Postings on our Facebook page have significantly increased in order to help the community to keep up to date with College community life including events, celebrations and activities.
- We will continue to produce videos that celebrate College progress and inform the community of new developments.
- In line with our commitment to maintaining continuous improvement, we will continue to undertake community surveys in order that we are able to measure the impact of the improvements we have introduced.
I am excited that so many new and value adding initiatives have resulted from the recent surveys. I look forward to seeing the fruit of our joint endeavours as we continue to take the College community forward together.