Pride and confidence in schools
Education State Target: By 2025, 20 per cent more parents will report high levels of confidence in the government school system in Victoria.
When Zahra Khademi visited Shepparton’s Wilmot Road Primary School to enrol her children, she didn’t realise it was the start of something much bigger for Ms. Khademi and Wilmot Road.
Fast forward six-and-a-half years and Ms. Khademi has the title of Family Liaison Officer, though she’s also known as a multicultural aide, interpreter and general sounding board for Afghan families across Shepparton.
More than 70 per cent of students at Wilmot Road have English as a Second Language, with the majority of those students from the Middle East.
Ms. Khademi, a Hazari refugee from Afghanistan, has become a critical link between the Afghan community and the school.
“The Afghan community… many of the families have never been in education or school,” she said.
“When families first came to Australia they were worried about going to school – firstly with the language barrier and also because when they came to school they weren’t sure what they needed to do.
“When I started working we had trouble getting students to school on time, but we no longer have a problem with that.”
The Education State agenda aims to ensure that every community has access to great schools. The target includes a commitment to increase the proportion of parents in the community reporting high levels of pride and confidence in their government schools.
Ms. Manuel explained that the school needed a way to connect with the growing Afghan community.
“We needed someone to help bridge the gap and to be able to communicate between the school and the families so they understood the processes, how we did things and how education is a partnership between the school and the family.
“She’s very well respected in the community, she works hard for the Afghan community in Shepparton, she values education and she’s able to explain to families why it’s important.”
Ms. Manuel said that since appointing Ms. Khademi, the school’s relationship with its community had dramatically changed.
“The respect of the community has grown for both Zahra and the school,” she said. “The parents trust us – there’s a great deal of trust. They know that we want the best for their children.
“Ms. Khademi’s role is critical and we have such a high level of parent satisfaction and communication with the school because of her work.”