Under the program, an In-School Settlement Practitioner works in collaboration with the school to systematically reach out to newly-arrived students and their families. This is often done in connection with registration and orientation activities.
Once contact is established, the In-School Settlement Practitioner assists the family in identifying various settlement needs, and connects with the family with settlement services in the community.
The In-School Settlement Practitioner also plays a role in promoting and helping facilitate the active involvement of newcomer families in their children’s education. This is done through:
- participating in school events;
- participating in reception and orientation processes for newcomer students;
- meeting with newcomer parents, teachers and other school staff;
- planning group events for newcomer students and families,in consultation with school staff; and
- distributing information and resources.
As trained providers of settlement assistance, In-School Settlement Practitioners also act as resources for school staff. They offer knowledge that:
- assists the school in connecting with hard-to-reach families;
- orients staff about settlement-related issues and their relationship to the classroom;
- empowers schools staff with information about unique cultural backgrounds; and
- facilitates culturally sensitive communication on all sides.
The In-School Settlement Program is structured to bring greater rigour to settlement service delivery and to ensure clients receive high-quality service.
A working group, comprised of the partnering settlement agencies and school boards, identifies overarching priorities and establishes operational guidelines and standards. This ensures that in-school settlement support services are delivered in a consistent fashion.
In-School Settlement Practitioners also undertake their work based on agreed-upon protocols with individual schools and school staff. Practitioners receive appropriate training for the unique school-based context of settlement service delivery.
Why Local Schools
Schools are pillars in our communities. They’re sources of knowledge, guidance and experience. They’re usually among the first places that newly-arrived families turn for services and assistance.
This makes schools ideal places through which newcomer families can find welcoming faces, make useful connections and receive effective settlement support. It’s a creative approach that enables us to reach and assist more families. This helps newly-arrived families establish social and community connections, leading to greater chances of success.
We also know that, as community leaders, teachers and principals are often approached by immigrant families for advice about non-curriculum matters. The placement of an In-School Settlement Practitioner provides a trained resource for immigrant families who have settlement-related questions or issues.
The In-School Settlement approach also recognizes the links between successful settlement, family engagement and student achievement.
As the program connects families with settlement services, it also helps them learn and understand Alberta’s education system, and promotes parents’ involvement in their children’s education. This helps students achieve better learning outcomes, and facilitates better classroom environments.