Strengthening school–family collaboration: an evaluation of the family referral service in four Australian schools

Martin T. Hall, Gerald Wurf

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This study evaluates the capacity of a school-based family referral service to support school personnel in connecting at-risk students with appropriate community agencies. Through a partnership between New South Wales government departments and a not-for-profit counselling organisation, the family referral service was piloted at four regional, government schools. In phase 1 of the mixed methods evaluation, 135 students completed an online version of the Student Engagement Instrument. In phase 2, 32 primary and secondary teachers participated in four focus groups. Four principals and 19 key stakeholders participated in individual, semi-structured interviews. Findings showed the service increased the schools’ capacity to manage students who were at risk of underachievement and poorer educational outcomes and reduced the workload of principals and teachers. While high Student Engagement Instrument subscale scores were obtained for extrinsic motivation and relationships with teachers, family support for learning received the lowest scores. Recommendations for the wider promotion of school–family partnerships focussing on locating flexible, family referral services within schools are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-35
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Journal of Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • collaboration
  • family programmes
  • Family–school relationship
  • partnerships in education
  • programme evaluation
  • student engagement

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