In this podcast published by the Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership, Dr Debbie Pushor from the University of Saskatchewan talks with Angela Scaffidi about the barriers to genuine engagement between schools and parents, and the immense educational value of recognising and valuing parents' knowledge.

Listen now

Listen to the interview. 


Knowing their families and their cultural beliefs around education will assist schools to engage those families in a more culturally responsive way and give all families a sense of belonging. Situate cultural strengths of family and community within the school curriculum, once identified.

Centre for Multicultural Youth resource

This CMY resource, Opening the School Gate: Engaging migrant and refugee families, is a good practice guide that provides teachers and school staff with a range of strategies to encourage parents and families from migrant and refugee backgrounds to fully participate in the educational experience of their children.

Download resource from CMY Opens in new tab

Foundation House resources

The Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc authored a desktop guide to support schools to enhance their capacity to engage with parents from refugee backgrounds (2015).

Download resource from Foundation House


Effective communication is the key; two-way exchanges with families as genuine partners. In communicating effectively with families it is equally important to empower and encourage families to communicate effectively with schools.


According to research from the Australian Research Alliance on Children and Youth (ARACY), a significant barrier to the engagement of Aboriginal parents in high Aboriginal enrolment schools is the cultural disconnect between parents and teachers. Many teachers lack the skills and confidence to understand the different perspectives on learning that Aboriginal families have. This lack of awareness prevents parents from feeling included in the school community, thereby reducing their involvement in their children’s education.

The ARACY website has some practical strategies to address this problem, and a link to more detailed research on the issue.


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