In some parts of Australia there are already arrangements in place for developing written, formal agreements with guidelines about how to do this. Sometimes, the state or territory government and, in some cases with remote communities, the Australian Government, is a partner in this process. There is no one way to form an agreement, and agreements will differ from place to place. But the key thing is that local school people, students, families and communities are involved in this process.
Why are formal agreements valuable?
- They recognise that everyone involved in education has rights and that they also have responsibilities.
- They provide a shared foundation for making things better.
- They can change relationships for the better, by changing the way that schools do their business and by giving parents, families and communities a bigger stake in what happens there.
- You have a document to which you can refer to check how things are going over time.
What are good agreements like?
- They include clear objectives and actions which will lead to improved outcomes for students.
- They are very clear so that everyone involved knows what is meant. That means writing them in language that everyone can understand.
- They reflect what people have said they will, and can, do.
- They include a regular process that the school and representatives of parents and community can be involved in for checking what has happened over time.
There must be a commitment on the part of all those involved to implement the agreement. This means carrying out the required actions, and making sure the objectives of the agreement are achieved. This is more likely to happen where a wide cross-section of the community has had a chance to be involved.