Baden Powell College (P-9): Engaging students and families

Families and students at Baden Powell College are participating in dance, music, drama, book translation and group learning as a result of the school’s involvement in the Refugee Education Support Program (RESP).

Baden Powell College is a large, two-campus school in Melbourne’s west. The school’s P-9 campus in Tarneit has been highly active in RESP’s Wyndham cluster, and it identified student/family engagement as a key area to address.

When families are engaged in school communities, student learning is enhanced. Aiming for this outcome, the school established a Family Learning Club in which parents/carers and their children attend weekly staff-run classes. The sessions focus on literacy and numeracy, and parents/carers get to see what their children do at school, while also participating with children in fun learning activities.

A Library of Languages is another new engagement activity that sees parents/carers and students working together, meeting over several sessions to translate books into their own languages. A mini-library has been created as a result, and students can take translated books home and share them with their families.

The school employed a bicultural worker to support students and families, and has also worked to engage parents/carers by developing notices in community languages; establishing flexible start times for parent/carer information sessions (ensuring those unfamiliar with the Australian school system are invited); creating multilingual welcoming displays; and ensuring all events are informal and friendly. These efforts have led to an increase in the number of families participating in school events.

An inclusive school culture helps engage students, which supports their recovery from trauma and their educational outcomes. The school created the African Sisters’ Dance Group to acknowledge the strengths and capabilities all students bring to the school. Students and their families have engaged positively with the school as a result of the group’s celebration of diverse cultural backgrounds and skills. By creating leadership, mentoring and performance opportunities, the group has also helped restore students’ sense of dignity and value.

Schools that form external partnerships are better positioned to assist students and families. With Co-Health, the school facilitated the Sisters and Brothers Program, which, through music, drama and dance, promotes and celebrates multiculturalism while empowering students to champion diversity.