Strong Partnerships

The focus and speculation about what the world of tomorrow might look like for the students of today is a conversation that can often be highly debated amongst educators,demographers, futurists, economists and others.

Schools of today are tasked with not only instructing students in literacy, numeracy, resilience,social and emotional wellbeing, digital competencies, and life skills, we must also “future-proof” our students.

What does this mean and how should the skills required in this quest of “future-proofing” be measured? These questions and others provided the basis for the recent Association of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA) Biennial Conference in Perth during the Term 3 break.

As a member of the Conference’s organising committee, I had the privilege of not only attending but being involved from constructing the program to helping decide the theme.“Forging the Future” centred on examining our possible future in a range of contexts and how we get there.

The future-focused topics included the future of work, the future of international education,Artificial Intelligence and employment, the future of religious faith and the future of universities, just to name a few. Many of the issues these topics highlighted play into the strategic challenges that we, and many schools,currently face.

Whilst delegates were spoilt for choice with the calibre of speakers including Bernard Salt AM, Mark McCrindle and Dr Jordan Nguyen, it was the smaller concurrent sessions that provided the highlights of the conference. These sessions enabled smaller groups to focus on areas of interest and a level of interaction that large formal settings do not always permit.

One such session, Managing parental expectations in an era of transparency and consultative governance, provided delegates with the opportunity to engage with the most current data around parental expectations and partnerships in non-government schools.

We were fortunate to have Shelley Hill, President of the Australian Parents Council, present on what parents want from schools from a parent perspective. It would not surprise anyone that the number one priority is to be in relationship and partnership. An interesting take away from the presentation was that 72 per cent of parents surveyed think there should be guidelines that set clear expectations of how parents, teachers and schools should work together as partners in education.

Ms Hill also spoke of the tension between being transparent and protecting privacy of individuals which at times might appear as “hiding information” – a delicate tightrope that all schools walk in their daily operations.

The idea of clearly set out guidelines for interaction and partnering in ways that model respect, empathy and understanding were also reflected in the two case studies in this workshop. The case studies were wonderful examples of what happens when the parent/school relationship works well and when it doesn’t!

Another point that clearly emerged in this session is that most parents are advocates for the school that their child/ren attend and this must not be forgotten. We are blessed that this is certainly the case at St Stephen’s School.

A strong parent-school partnership is fundamental if a student is to cultivate a strong sense of self, belonging and wellbeing.

St Stephen’s School staff work hard to ensure that these partnerships are open and transparent with our parent community so we can continue to work together with mutual respect for the best outcomes for our students.


“Do to others as you would have them do to you” - Luke 6:31.

Take care,

Mrs Donella Beare