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Part A.

Parent Partnership with Schools


Survey
Early in 2014 the Catholic Schools Office, Lismore, conducted an online survey aimed to find out
how parents, school principals and priests viewed parent-school partnership across the Diocese
of Lismore. Every priest, principal and parent was invited to participate in the survey which
was completed by six priests, 22 principals and 238 parents/carers. The following display of
the analysed responses will enable quality discussion as to how we can build a stronger future
together.

Q1. Priests, Parents and Principals were asked to give 5


reasons why parents choose Catholic schools and here is
their agreed first reason and then areas of difference:
Common Agreement: Priority One
1. Better Values and Morals for the students
Discussion Question 1:
What are the strengths and areas of concern
regarding how students are supported to gain
better values and morals in your parish school
community?

Discussion Question 2:
What could be done by priests, parents and
principals to provide a stronger environment
of support for students to gain better morals
and values?

Areas of difference: Priority Two - Five


Clergy

Parents

Principals

Question

2. To attend a
Catholic high school
3. Better discipline
4. They went to a
Catholic school
5. Better academic
outcomes

2. Childs spiritual
development
3. Better discipline
4. Better academic
outcomes
5. Catholic faith for
the child

2. Better discipline
3. They are Catholic
4. Better care =
better academic
outcomes
5. They went to a
Catholic school

What is to be done so
that the village of
Catholic education
can build greater
unity of purpose?

Proclaim Lismore Parents 2014 Report to Parish Schools

Clergy

Parents

Principals

Question

Quite
welcome

Somewhat
welcoming

Very welcome

What would a welcoming


school look like?

Q3. Do
Agree
children want
their parents
involved
in their
schooling?

Agree

Agree

Why is there such


a strong difference
of opinion among us
regarding parents
competence to help their
children in all aspects of
school homework?

Q4. How
important
is parent
partnership
in schools?

Agreed that parentschool partnership is


important and have
a positive attitude
towards it. But it is
not the norm.

Agreed that
parent-school
partnership is
important and
have a positive
attitude towards
it. But it is not
the norm.

What concrete steps


could be taken to
improve the perception
that parent involvement
at school was not the
norm?

Work; Lack of
time. [Other
barriers: Lack of
available childcare;
Not having the
skills needed; Not
knowing how to get
involved; Feeling
uncomfortable or
unwelcome; Not
wanting to be the
only parent who gets
involved; Preferring
not to be involved in
religious aspects of
the school.]
58% of parents
were aware of the
Catholic School
Parent Assembly

Lack of time;
parents appear
disinterested
in forming
partnership
with the school;
Not wanting to
burden teaching
staff with more
tasks.

What innovative ways


could be found to address
the real problem of
lack of time in building
partnership?

N/A

How can the Parent


Assembly provide a
stronger link between
families, schools and
parishes?
Do families in your
parish school want faith
enrichment and parent
education opportunities?

Q2. How
welcome do
parents feel
at school?

Q5. What are


the barriers
to forming
stronger
parent-school
partnership?

Agreed that
parent-school
partnership is
important and
have a positive
attitude
towards it. But
it is not the
norm.
Lack of time;
Parents do not
seem interested
in the faith.

Q6. Are
N/A
parents
aware of
the Catholic
School Parent
Assembly?

Proclaim Lismore Parents 2014 Report to Parish Schools

Part B. Proclaim Lismore Parent Gatherings


What do you think we are doing well?

Fig. 10. Doing well Word cloud

The following bar graph shows how many times each concept (and its synonyms) was mentioned.

Communication
with parents

Being welcoming

Opportunities
for parent
participation

Sense of
community

Conveying
Catholic values

Pastoral care

Fig. 9. Doing well Stemmed and synonym word count

By a small margin, the high quality of communication with parents was most cited as something
that was being done well. The responses for this question also indicated that participants felt the
Diocese was successful in being welcoming, and conveying a sense of community that values and
is accepting of a great diversity.

Proclaim Lismore Parents 2014 Report to Parish Schools

What challenge do you think we are facing?

The following bar graph shows how many times each concept (and its synonyms) was mentioned.

Engagement and
involvement

Healthy relationships Effectively passing on


and effective

the Catholic faith

Negative effects of

Speed of life and

Diversity of family

Alignment of

Tech and Social Media

lack of time

needs and worldviews

morals/values -

communication

Fig. 7. Challenges Stemmed and synonym word count.

Catholic and nonCatholic families

Figure 7 indicates that participants saw the issue of parent engagement and involvement in the
school community as the most pressing and significant challenge to meaningful change. Many
times throughout the rest of the raw data, a general disappointment in the level of interest from
parents was evident. There are also three other themes in figure 7 that may be seen as specific
reasons for a lack of parental engagement:

Speed of life and lack of time


Diversity of family needs and worldviews, and
Alignment of morals/values
If these themes are conceptualised as reasons for, or specific subsets of the Engagement
theme, the dominance of this concern among the participants is intensified.

Proclaim Lismore Parents 2014 Report to Parish Schools

What is the most important core value you believe will


strengthen parent partnership within your parish school?
The following bar graph shows how many times each concept was mentioned.

Respect

Trust

Love

Fig. 11. Value that will strengthen parent partnership Stemmed and synonym word count

The values of Respect, Trust, and Love were the only values that garnered more than a
single response. All other values were atomised in the sense that they were mentioned only once
by one participant.
The atomised values cited by participants were: acceptance; understanding; appreciating and
valuing each person; authenticity; belief; compassion; conviction; empathy; equality; faith;
generosity; inclusion; integrity; interdependence; listening for action; mutuality; openness;
perseverance; respect; sensitivity; unity; witnessing.

Proclaim Lismore Parents 2014 Report to Parish Schools

Summary of Participant Evaluations:


I leave the Gathering feeling

Fig 2. Feelings - Word cloud

ho

pe
f
po ul
en sit
co ive
ur
a
en ged
er
gi
in sed
fo
rm
ed
va
lu
e
ex d
ci
ti
in ng
sp
i
co red
nf
i
m den
ot
iv t
ch ate
al
d
le
ng
ed
en he
lig ard
h
em ten
po ed
w
er
re
en ed
fr
t
hu
es
he
s
up ed
d/
re
lif
in
te
vi
go d
ra
te
bl d
es
s
co ed
nf
us
ed
ov
er
w sad
he
l
fr me
us
d
tr
a
ex te
ha d
us
te
d
w
or
rie
d

The following bar graph shows how many times each feeling (and its synonyms) was mentioned.
Blue = positive feelings. Brown = negative feelings

Fig. 1. Feelings - Stemmed and synonym word count.

Proclaim Lismore Parents 2014 Report to Parish Schools

Promising but fragile potential


The main theme to emerge in this
area was the feeling that there exists
a promising, but fragile potential.
The participants described being
uplifted by the hope and excitement
at the possibilities of seeing real
and worthwhile changes, yet they
were simultaneously sobered by the
enormity of the task that lay ahead.
Of the thirty five (35) mentions of
negative feelings, the majority could
be described as coupled negatives,
which always took the form of a
couplet comprised of a negative
feeling linked to a positive feeling in
order to articulate the complexity of
what the participants were facing.
An examples of this is: I leave the
gathering feeling: - stimulated, but
worried

Proclaim Lismore Parents 2014 Report to Parish Schools

I leave the Gathering hoping for

Fig. 4. Hoping - Word cloud

The following bar graph shows how many times each concept (and its synonyms) was mentioned.

Positive results

Expanded
engagement

Community

Personal
contribution

Catholic values

Fig. 3. Hoping - Stemmed and synonym word count.

Positive results
This theme contained responses that saw the future of the Diocese as generally positive, and
were therefore optimistic. There was a desire to preserve and capitalise on the momentum
and enthusiasm generated by the event and that it was important this effort was not wasted.

Expanded Engagement
There was disappointment with the low number of parents involved, and a wish to better
engage parents with the school community. Participants reflected on ways to mobilise
unengaged parents, and emphasised the importance of gaining a deeper understanding in order
to discover the barriers that hinder people from becoming more actively involved.

Community
These responses described the hope for an ever -more unified community, one based on
meaningful and effective partnerships between schools, families and the parish.

Personal Contribution
Responses in this category focussed on the hope that the participants themselves would have
the commitment and resources required to make a personal contribution to the desired change.

Catholic values
Participants in this theme were hoping that any change or any improvement would have at its
core an understanding of key Catholic values, to ensure these values are preserved and passed
on.
Proclaim Lismore Parents 2014 Report to Parish Schools

I leave the gathering thinking


The following bar graph shows how many times each concept (and its synonyms) was mentioned.

A complex The community Like-minded I am fortunate Will anything The importance


I am positive
problem
is united and
people
to be involved come from
of practical
about the
that
requires
committed
this?
faith
future
more
reflection
Fig. 5. Thinking - Stemmed and synonym word count.
What can I
do?

What can I do?


This largest category of response showed there were a large number of participants who were
planning to re-evaluate their personal level of effectiveness and commitment such asits up to
me to make a small difference and What can I do to help?, or that I can/should do more.

I am positive about the future


This theme articulated a general feeling of hope and positivity about the future. These responses
mentioned the value of the event, and that it was most informative, with an air of excitement
and enthusiasm regarding what might lie ahead.

A complex problem that requires more reflection


This set of responses commented on the scope and nature of the problem how to engage the
unengaged? Acknowledgement of the large amount of work to be done was also evident in these
responses.

The community is united and committed


These responses articulated the belief of participants that there were a lot of dedicated people trying their hardest to provide the highest quality education for students that takes into account the social, emotional and spiritual dimensions of humanity. The staff of the Diocese were
seen as a strong foundation upon which future change could be built andthat the schools and
kids are in good hands, and that participants realised they were part of a progressive and proactive Diocese.

Like-minded people
The participants were encouraged that there were many other like-minded parents who had
common goals, and were passionate about their faith and wanted to share this wonderful gift.

I am fortunate to be involved
These responses spoke of the participants realising how fortunate, grateful and blessed they
were that their families were part of the Diocese.

Proclaim Lismore Parents 2014 Report to Parish Schools

10

Will anything come of this?


This type of response to this question articulated a concern that the things spoken about during
the event were not forgotten, but were acted upon, in order to bring about real change.

The importance of practical faith


This smaller sub-set of responses spoke about the imperative to show how the Catholic faith
is something that should be acted out every day, as opposed to being acknowledged, yet not
implemented. These responses also contained the concept of ensuring that children had many
examples of faith in action. The importance of finding a balance between being relevant to the
world, yet preserving the core of Catholic identity was identified.

Proclaim Lismore Parents 2014 Report to Parish Schools

11