Building your relationships with school staff

acd resource learning together 51

An effective working relationship with staff at the school will serve you well, especially if problems arise.

On this page:

Personal relationships matter

We spoke to many parents and carers in writing Learning Together, and asked them to share their experiences. A common theme was the value of building positive working relationships with the staff and the broader school community, and getting involved at school. Some used words like ‘partnership’ or a ‘team approach’; others simply talked about the need to value the relationships with the people involved in teaching and supporting their child at school.

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Many ways to build relationships

Think about which staff in the school can help your child, and build your relationships with them. Get to know your child’s classroom teacher or homeroom teacher at secondary school, the year level coordinator, the integration or welfare coordinator and others who can help you to help your child. Check in with them regularly, be supportive of their work, share information and ideas, get involved at school, and use every opportunity you can to stay in touch, such as communication books, emails and parent-teacher meetings, school events and assemblies.

Many parents and carers are involved at primary school, but become less involved when their child is at secondary school. However, secondary schools welcome family involvement, although it might happen in different ways.

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It makes a difference when issues arise

Your child will be at school for many years. Over this time, no matter how good a school might be, there are likely to be times that issues arise, when you need to advocate for your child’s needs.

Families we spoke with for Learning Together reported that they felt schools were often more responsive to their concerns when they already had a strong working relationship with the school, and were perceived as a family who supported their child’s education and contributed, where they could, to the school community. As one father says (see Anthony and Mel’s story) this is not about quid pro quo (“I do something for you, so you do something for me”), but rather about creating a sense of the family and school working together, to support the child.

Valuing your relationship with staff in the school will also mean considering how you approach bringing up a concern or complaint. Try to consider the long-term view and both perspectives. Even if you are upset and stressed about an issue at school, time time to calm down, seek support for yourself, and think through how best to raise the issue and get your message across so that the school will respond as you would wish:

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