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School Assessment Tool


The National MCEECDYA Smarter Schools Taskforce on Parent Engagement in Low SES Communities has developed a new toolkit, the Strengthening Family and Community Engagement Resource, to assist schools build and strengthen family, school and community partnerships to support children’s learning.  A key feature of this new resource is the School Assessment Tool (Reflection Matrix). In order to support the particular needs of (NSW) Catholic Schools a Catholic Schools Reflection Matrix has been developed.  This matrix will replace the matrix on pages 5-11 of The School Assessment Tool.

A Complementary Resource:

Like Partners4Learning, this new resource builds on the seven key dimensions of the Australian Family School Partnership Framework. The elements of effective practice, case-studies, research summaries and the bank of resources on Partners4Learning under each of the seven key dimensions will be useful as you work through the School Assessment process and make plans for action.

On this page, we've tried to simplify things for you by summarising the key processes and highlighting the useful tools from the Strengthening Family and Community Engagement Resource that you'll need to reflect on your practices working with families and communities. The full Smarter Schools Strengthening Family and Community Engagement resource can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom on this page.

The Planning Cycle:

The Strengthening Family & Community Engagement Resource outlines four stages in a self-review and planning process. The steps align with a typical school planning cycle and as such the school community (staff, families, students and community members) should be involved in all steps. When the school community is included it is more likely that all groups within the school community will take ownership and be more committed to action.

Before you begin...

  • Action Team: Consider establishing a Family-School Partnership Action Team (or similar) comprising teachers, parents, a member of the school leadership team and perhaps even students and community members. You may consider involving other people with special knowledge or expertise in Aboriginal and multicultural education and community engagement, representatives of the cultural and linguistic communities in your community, local government and non-government agencies and tertiary institutions. Your Action Team will be enhanced if it's membership reflects the community it supports. An Action Team is a useful tool for planning, implementing, analysing and evaluating family, school community partnerships.  It is also a way of mindfully including key stakeholders at all stages of your process.  It will help you stay focussed and be more strategic and authentic in your work.
  • Familiarise yourself with the Family School Partnership Framework and the seven key dimensions of effective family-school-community partnerships on Partners4Learning
  • What you'll find in the Smarter Schools Resource: The document, Dimensions of Family and Community Engagement at a Glance, is a very useful summary to download and refer to in your discussions and planning.

STEP 1: Analyse Current Practice

In this step, school communities collect data about their current practices and community perceptions related to family and community engagement. Schools should use a range of processes to collect data, for example group discussions, forums and/or surveys. The quantitative and qualitative data collected informs subsequent steps in the process.

When choosing an appropriate tool, you need to think about its purpose - Is it to take a quick and simple 'temperature reading'? If so, some of the quick group facilitation tools listed below would work very well. Or, are you needing a tool that will give you broader and deeper data to inform your school plan or school review and improvement process?  In this case, surveys and situational analyses may be more appropriate.  You'll also need to think about how you'll use the tool - in staff and parent meetings, workshops, focus groups, send-home forms etc.

Remember to seek input from all members of the school community: families, teachers, support staff, school leadership, students (if appropriate), community members/agencies with whom the school has a relationship or wishes to...

  • What you'll find in the Smarter Schools Resource: A list of questions has been developed to assist school communities begin the process of understanding where they're at with their current practice. These questions are available in the Reviewing Current Practice Resource.

Examples of other tools schools could use include:

Discussion Starters:

* Talk Tools
* Focus Group Discussion Starters
* Initial Impressions

Facilitation Tools:

* Parents as Partners in School Review
* Tools for Staff and Parent Meetings


* DET Survey
* Teacher Belief Survey

Situational Analyses:

* Situational Analysis

STEP 2: Determine Priorities for Action

[This is where having an Action Team is useful]

Part 1: In this step schools can use the School Assessment Tool and Reflection Matrix to reflect on where they are on a continuum of engagement  - Building, Developing or Sustaining - across the seven partnership dimensions. In order to do this schools should draw on a range of data and information, including data collected in Step 1, policies, program initiatives etc. This process will help determine areas of strength within current practice and highlight areas requiring support or development. 

Schools can also use the Analysing current practice proforma on pg 12 of the School Assessment Tool to record effective practices that are already evident in the school; noting those that are working well and those that need more work.

Part 2: Schools then use the information collected in Step One and in their analysis of current practice above to decide on priorities for further action. School communities can use the Setting priorities proforma to identify and prioritise suitable actions.

  • What you'll find in the Smarter Schools Resource: Part 1 - The School Assessment Tool has been developed to assist members of the school community (students, parents, staff and community members) assess current family and community engagement practices and to evaluate their progress when implementing strategies to strengthen engagement. By using the School Assessment Tool, schools will be able to identify where they are placed on a continuum of engagement and where work can be celebrated and further developed.

(NSW) Catholic Schools Please Note the Catholic Schools Reflection Matrix that has been developed which will reflect the particular needs of Catholic School Communities.  This matrix would replace the matrix on pages 5-11 of The School Assessment Tool.

STEP 3: Implementing Planned Actions

Once all possible actions have been prioritised, school communities can embed these into the school plan, relevant policies or programs. As part of this step, family and community engagement strategies can be written up and promoted within the school community.

STEP 4: Evaluate Progress

School communities can develop ongoing monitoring and evaluation processes to continue assessing their progress towards strengthening family and community engagement in learning.

School communities can use the Evaluation proforma to document achievements, identify emerging issues and ideas for future action.

When school plans have been implemented, schools can use the School Assessment Tool again to reflect on their progress and identify areas that require further development.


For updates on new resources and support materials follow P4Learning on Twitter or search for the hashtag #P4Learning or subscribe to the ParentNet newsletter here

If you would like help with the evaluation process and/or would like some PD in parent and community engagement (including NSW Institute of Teachers Accredited Professional Development) contact us.   A sample of availble PD sessions can be found here.  We can also tailor sessions to meet your needs.

Download the full Resource by clicking on the image below:


 Other Key Docuements from the National Collaboration Project:


Taskforce Membership

Case Studies Report

Exec Summary

Case Study Learnings

Summary of Key Research

Summary of useful Resources

 Wallwisher from the Strengthening Engagement Forum:


Year Level