Schools and Families in Partnership for Learning in Faith-Based Schools

  • Annie MitchellEmail author
  • Judith D. Chapman
  • Sue McNamara
  • Marj Horne


Across the international arena, the importance of families working with schools in the interests of improving learning for students is increasingly being recognised. This chapter discusses a system-wide reform effort by four Catholic dioceses in the Australian state of Victoria directed towards improving student outcomes through strengthening family-school-community partnerships; and the role of educational systems in supporting and enabling such reform. The reform effort was located in the Australian Commonwealth Governments’ Family – School Partnerships Framework for parent engagement, based on Epstein et al.’s (2002) categories of parent engagement. This provided a useful guide for considering the multiple dimensions of family school partnerships and student learning. These dimensions included: communicating; connecting learning at school and learning at home; building community and identity; recognising the role of the family; consultative decision-making; collaborating beyond the school; and participating. Based on data collected from nine case study schools, this chapter discusses school and system level impacts on improved links between parent participation and student learning.


Family school partnerships School-community partnerships Educational system support Epstein, J. Student learning Student wellbeing Teacher professional learning Low socio-economic status Language background other than English Catholic sector 



The research which informs this chapter was undertaken as part of a Catholic Education Commission of Victoria funded project 2010–2013. Special recognition is given to the contribution of senior officers in Catholic education. In particular Stephen Elder, Maria Kirkwood, Elizabeth McQuade-Jones, Mary Tobin, Dennis Torpy, John Stafford, Shani Prendergast, Anne Speakman, Mary Lovelock, and Brenda Keenan.


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2012). Community profiles. Retrieved from
  2. Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2012). NAPLAN achievement in reading, persuasive writing, language conventions and numeracy: National report for 2012. Sydney: Author.Google Scholar
  3. Australian Government. (2011). A review of funding for schooling – Final report. Canberra: Author.Google Scholar
  4. Black, R. (2008). Beyond the classroom: Building new school networks. Camberwell: ACER Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bryk, A. S., Lee, V. E., & Holland, P. B. (1993). Catholic schools and the common good. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Catholic Education Office Melbourne (CEOM). (2011, November). Schools as Core Social Centres (SACSC) Report from the Catholic Education Office Melbourne (CEOM) to the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth). East Melbourne: Catholic Education Office Melbourne.Google Scholar
  7. Chapman, L., & West-Burnham, J. (2009). Education for social justice: Achieving wellbeing for all. London: Network Continuum Education.Google Scholar
  8. Commonwealth of Australia. (2009). A stronger, fairer Australia. ACT: Social Inclusion Unit, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved from
  9. Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. (2010). Summary statistics for Victorian schools. East Melbourne: Author. Retrieved from
  10. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2008a). Family–school partnerships framework: A guide for schools and families. Canberra: DEEWR. Retrieved from
  11. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2008b). Strengthening family and community engagement in student learning. Dimensions of family and community engagement at a glance. Retrieved from
  12. Emerson, L., Fear, J., Fox, S., & Sanders, E. (2012). Parental engagement in learning and schooling: Lessons from research. A report by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) for the Family-School and Community Partnerships Bureau, Canberra, Australia.Google Scholar
  13. Epstein, J., Sanders, M., Sheldon, S., Simon, B., Salinas, K., Jansorn, N., & Van Voorhis, L. (2002). School, family and community partnerships: Your handbook for action (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Corwin.Google Scholar
  14. Harris, A., Andrew-Power, K., & Goodall, J. (2009). Do parents know they matter? Raising achievement through parental engagement. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  15. Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Henderson, A. (2011). Family–school–community partnerships 2.0: Collaborative strategies to advance student learning. Washington, DC: National Education Association.Google Scholar
  17. Henderson, A. (2012, August). The power of family school partnerships for student success. Presentation to the Forum for School Leaders, Catholic Education Commission of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.Google Scholar
  18. Henderson, A., & Mapp, K. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement. Austin: National Centre for Family & Community Connections with Schools, Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL).Google Scholar
  19. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2001). Schooling for tomorrow: What schools for the future? Paris: OECD Publishing.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annie Mitchell
    • 1
    Email author
  • Judith D. Chapman
    • 2
  • Sue McNamara
    • 3
  • Marj Horne
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationMonash University, BerwickNarre WarrenAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationAustralian Catholic University, MelbourneFitzroy MDCAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of EducationAustralian Catholic University, BallaratBallaratAustralia

Personalised recommendations