Keeping Pace with PaCE
26 June 2012
In 2011 Wunan, along with a range of partners, rolled out the Parent and Community Engagement (PaCE) Program. The goal of PaCE is to work directly with families and community to increase school attendance, improve student outcomes and ensure stronger parental involvement in their child’s education. To achieve this PaCE is designed and delivered in a way that increases knowledge of the educational process.
Wunan initiated the PaCE program based on research provided by “Closing the Gap, January 2011”, which advocated that a high levels of parental and community involvement leads to improved student learning, attendance and behaviour. As well, family involvement in schools is the key to high quality education.
The Wunan PaCE project is effectively an action research project, recording and reporting on the findings, designing and implementing a program to suit the needs of the local Indigenous people.
By December 2011 PaCE had engaged with 97 families for a total of 225 ‘contacts’. These ‘contacts’ were a combination of formal and informal meetings and venues, that suited the participants, ranging from a school building, local park or a yarn on a front veranda.
Through this community consultation PaCE identified a number of tangible outcomes, one of which was the need for young Indigenous mothers and families to have a playgroup. To be able to come together, consolidate and discuss ideas relevant to parenting and the education of their children.
In 2012 PaCE now facilitates a playgroup with a solid group of young Indigenous mothers, all with children attending local Early Childhood Programs. Looking towards 2013, one of the PaCE goals will be ensuring that these families, and their children, will transition smoothly into the school system. PaCE is currently involved in discussions with other partners, including the local schools, to make this goal a reality in the town of Kununurra.
PaCE has also been involved in the publication of a book through the Better Beginnings Program. The launch of the book “Pindan Kids Love Books” on 23 May in Kununurra was the first Indigenous book to be created in a community. PaCE supported the involvement of the families in this project.
In 2012 PaCE has also extended its service to the community of Halls Creek. PaCE is working with Halls Creek District High School and the Halls Creek Children and Family Centre to establish a playgroup for the town. As in Kununurra, the goal of this joint approach is to ensure the transition into school is a positive experience for the children and their families.
Community members and agencies in the town of Wyndham have approached PaCE to deliver workshops, engaging with parents at the Wyndham Early Learning Activity (WELA) Centre and the schools. The goal is to reinforce the need for parents to be actively involved in their children’s education and how this would look to people in the town.
The success of PaCE is found in the way it is delivered. The program is designed to meet the needs of the community, working with parents and community and capacity building on the job. Through a strong partnership with the Ord Enhancement Scheme (OES) the PaCE project has employed local Miriuwung Gajerrong people into the role as Educational Advocates within Kununurra. PaCE utilises the skills of the Educational Advocates who communicate with the Co-ordinator in how to design and implement the project. These workers also receive training to ensure a high standard is delivered to the community.
At the end of 2012 PaCE will have a comprehensive resource kit documenting the project. Included in the package will be worksheets about how to develop and deliver a playgroup with Indigenous parents to benefit the educational outcomes for their children.