The partnership between a child’s home and their school is consistently linked to positive outcomes, both academic and those related to general health and wellbeing. While both teachers and parents are invested in the best possible outcomes for children, the relationship between these two primary stakeholders can be adversarial. Despite widespread acknowledgement of the importance of developing a shared partnership between a child’s home and their school, there appears to be a disconnect between the vision and the reality.

Many schools and teachers indicate feeling ill equipped to develop relationships with parents. Australia-wide surveys have found that teachers and school leaders identified that their greatest need for professional development was dealing with the outcomes of parents’ emotional investment in their children. The consequence of the lack of availability for building schools’ capacity to develop partnerships with parents is sobering. The Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey found that 41% of principals and deputy principals had been threatened with violence and 36% had been bullied. Parents were reported to be among the main instigators of these behaviours.

From the parents’ perspective, the evidence suggests that parents will remain engaged in their child’s education to the extent that they feel they are able to make a difference. The majority of parents begin the school journey with aspirations for their child that often includes tertiary education. However, by the end of primary school many parents have already either lowered their expectations and disengaged or have begun advocating, appropriately and inappropriately, for their child.

The degree to which parents are involved in their child’s education can be influenced by their day-to-day interactions with teachers and the broader school system. This presentation will share information from our current and on-going research into developing a positive home-school partnership. Strategies for fostering a working relationship between parents, teachers and schools will also be discussed.

About Julie

Dr Julie Hodges is currently a Research Fellow in the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland. She is a clinical psychologist and former teacher. Twelve years spent ‘at the coal face’ in Queensland primary and secondary schools, combined with her work as a trainer in the delivery of parenting programs to practitioners has allowed Julie to develop an understanding of the relationship between home and school from the perspective of both stakeholders.

Julie’s research interests draw on her background as a teacher and her more recent experience as a clinical psychologist. She is keenly interested in supporting the wellbeing and self-regulatory capacity of children and adolescents and the influence that working a working relationship between schools and families can have on young people’s outcomes. Julie’s interest in exploring the interplay between these contexts has led to group of like-minded researchers from the University of Queensland turn their attention to developing a program of research into facilitating the alliance between schools and parents.