Lalor North Primary School: Advocating for change

It can be challenging for families to gain representation or a voice of advocacy on school councils. As part of the 2017 Refugee Education Support Program (RESP) Lalor North Primary School in Melbourne’s outer north invited onto school council a Whittlesea Council employee who had significant experience working with families of refugee backgrounds.

Six per cent of the school’s 345 students are of refugee backgrounds, mainly from Syria and Iraq, while almost 90 per cent of the student population have language backgrounds other than English. A bicultural worker from Whittlesea Council’s Community Connections program became involved with the school as part of RESP and was instrumental in developing the school’s parent engagement strategy.

The local council representative was highly valued and the school decided to deepen the connection and invited the worker onto the school council.

The bicultural worker now advocates on the school council for students’ needs. As a result of this advocacy, the school developed an EAL policy, and its enrolment processes were updated to include a step-by-step plan for office staff. In addition, the school now presents EAL strategy workshops in other RESP primary schools.