Schools are first and foremost about people. A place where young people, teachers, and parents combine to make a powerful community. While learning is important, it's just as important that young people feel a sense of belonging in their school community. This feeling of being known and understood by their peers and teachers builds confidence and strengthens their sense of place in the world.
So how can schools strengthen their school community and enhance the wellbeing of their students?
In this article, we will take a look at the benefits of a proactive community engagement strategy in schools, and explore the role that digital community engagement tools might play. Can they help deliver meaningful insights to improve outcomes for students?
It takes a village to raise a child
Community engagement is a powerful tool for a school community. Educating a child requires teachers, parents and the wider community to work together, with a shared responsibility to create an environment that fosters learning and leads to better academic and wellbeing outcomes.
In a school, community engagement can take many forms. Parents can attend school events, volunteer for fetes, join the Parents and Friends Association, or even become a representative on the school council. Inviting parents to become an important part of the school culture can help build a stronger relationship between the school and home.
Research suggests that students whose parents are active members of the school community are more likely to attend school regularly, have higher grades, and are more likely to pursue higher education. Having actively engaged parents can also help a child develop better social skills and self-esteem, and exhibit more positive behaviour.
The benefits of community engagement in schools
Good community engagement practices can help the school to better understand the needs and perspectives of students and their families. By working closely together with families and community members, school administrators can gain valuable insights that can inform better decision making and improve the school environment. This kind of collaboration leads to better policies and practices that meet the changing needs of students and their families.
However, best practice community engagement is not a box-ticking exercise. It’s a process that needs to be carefully implemented and managed over time. School administrators need to be able to trial new initiatives, get feedback, and change strategy if required. Most of all, you want to make sure your engagement efforts connect with the families that are most in need of support.
Better insights lead to better outcomes
The practice of community engagement is not specific to schools. In fact, it’s becoming more prevalent across governments and organisations who realise the benefits of listening to the community, especially when it comes to making decisions that directly affect them. Engaging with the community delivers insights and firsthand experience that can lead to better policy and project outcomes. For schools, the practice of community engagement can help identify areas for improvement and reveal underlying issues that may affect student outcomes.
Designed by leading experts in the community engagement space, District Engage offers a range of tools and resources to help schools improve their engagement efforts. In addition to having access to best practices, templates, and training materials to help school administrators develop effective strategies for engaging families and community members, the platform offers participation tools for surveying families and gathering feedback, and comprehensive reporting tools that provide data-driven insights to guide the decision-making process.
Go digital to streamline your engagement strategy
District Engage is a powerful community engagement platform that can help schools connect with families and community members, streamline communication, and foster meaningful engagement.
Featuring digital engagement tools like surveys, quick polls, events, updates, Q&A's and discussion threads, District Engage can be utilised as part of a comprehensive engagement strategy that reaches across communities to provide the insights and feedback needed for informed decision-making.
One of the key features of District Engage is its ability to provide real-time communication between schools and families. The platform makes it easy for schools to send out announcements, updates, and reminders to families via email, text, or mobile app, and provides a dedicated space for school news, notices and events. Families can also use the platform to communicate with school administrators, teachers, and staff, and receive personalised notifications and alerts.
A big advantage of a community engagement platform like District Engage is managing and tracking engagement efforts. The reporting dashboard gives schools valuable data and insights on how families are engaging with the school, which can help schools improve their outreach efforts (especially with families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds) set goals, and track progress over time.
What’s more, community feedback from surveys, polls, and other participation tools are a valuable measurement tool, and can help inform future decision making on anything from co-curricular activities, Year 9 electives, school camps, student wellbeing, to alumni reunions and philanthropic opportunities.
Strengthening the school community
Any school leader knows how important it is to have a strong and vibrant school community. Parents, educators, and the wider school community have a shared role in creating a supportive and inclusive learning environment to help students realise their potential, improve academic performance, and enhance their wellbeing.
Community engagement software tools, like District Engage, can help schools coordinate their efforts to engage with families, by streamlining communication, tracking and measuring engagement across the community, and providing important feedback and valuable insights.
If you are a school leader or administrator, and you’d like to enhance your school’s community engagement efforts, District Engage can help you build stronger relationships with families and create a more positive learning environment for your students.
Want to find out more? Contact us for more information.