My name is Rachael Sowden and I am the proud Director of Family Focus Consultancy. This business venture combines my passion for authentic parental engagement in schools with my experiences as a Mum to four wonderful children. I support educational communities to realise meaningful and successful relationships between Schools, Teacher, and Parents. Creating a relationship that places the child as a learner at the centre of all outcomes.
Family Focus Consultancy can provide services that align with both the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and the Federal Governments pillars of education. My business can offer teachers NESA Accredited Highly Accomplished Professional Development at the same time as learning how to “talk parent”.
Having spent more than twenty years as a “Mum” who just happens to have a background in NSW Public School education I soon learnt how to successfully negotiate with individual schools and staff and the Department of Education (DoE) for better outcomes for thousands of students across NSW, my four children included.
Since launching Family Focus Consultancy, I have been a vehicle, a voice and a champion for well-rounded educational delivery in all schools. My contributions have included;
Appointed as a General Member of The Disability Council of NSW. This body advises the NSW Govt on legislation, policy and other matters relating to disability. I am honoured to be able to advocate for all people in the community, especially those who experience disability in any of its many guises.
NSW State Coordinator Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY). ARACY helps children achieve a better life through a national action plan called The Nest. ARACY focuses on prevention, heading off problems before they arise. Discovering and spreading the news on what research tells us are the best practical ways to overcome disadvantage early and set children on a positive future path. Bringing together researchers, policymakers in government, people delivering services, children and youth to learn from each other.
Board Member, Advocacy Law Alliance Inc (ALA). ALA provides high quality social/legal advocacy and support to people in need across NSW, with a commitment to servicing regional and remote communities. Our focus is to empower clients to navigate the legal and social systems and achieve fair outcomes in the pursuit of their goals.
Workshop Facilitator @ EduChange 2017. Family Focus Consultancy ran a workshop on the importance of parental engagement. The focus was given to the ways in which best to support schools and educators to enhance their knowledge skills and pedagogy on parental engagement in line with both National standards and the FFC NESA endorsed courses.
Session Presenter @ EduTECH 2017. Family Focus Consultancy delivered an address at this contemporary event on the topic of ‘Optimal Parent-Student-Educator relationships for Parents’. Discussing how to work towards best practice relationships and what they might look like in schools of today and tomorrow.
Presenter @ the inaugural Education Nation. Family Focus Consultancy delivered at this event which was established and dedicated to providing Australia’s K-12 education system with a platform to explore, discuss, devise and redevelop the future of education in our country. We are proud to be supporting this initiative and look forward to joining our education community in a forum focused on thinking differently about the unique challenges of education in Australia.
Presenter @ Queensland University of Technology (QUT) National Summit on Engagement. Family Focus Consultancy presented two workshops on ‘Parental Engagement in Education’ at the conference which was attended by 280 educators and leaders in educational policy.
I have also served my community as a state member of NSW Federation of P&C for ten years, seven of those years at the executive level and three years as media spokesperson. My contribution to my local educational communities has been realised through long-term membership and roles with the New England Regional and District P&C Associations. My time in these organisations allowed me to hone my skills at negotiation to ensure the best outcome for children and parents. For me schools are complex, needing to balance the needs of students allowing for each one of them and their unique needs to shine. Parents are key to this outcome occurring.
In my efficacy role, I have been able to support schools and their P&C's in various ways to work better together. Supporting principals, staff, the wider DE and parents to reach outcomes that allow them to engage in relationships that foster better outcomes for our kids. I was humbled and delighted to be recognised in 2012 for my contributions, receiving a Department of Education and Communities NSW Public School Parent of the Year Award. A further honour was received in 2013 with a P&C Federation Distinguished Service medal and citation being bestowed upon me. These two personally treasured awards are a reminder to me, as Director of Family Focus Consultancy that great school communities are a perfect complement to teachers and parents working together in service for children. A legacy I am very proud to be able to deliver to schools across Australia through Family Focus Consultancy.
Family Focus Consultancy Team
The team of presenters at Family Focus Consultancy have a wealth of personal experiences, educational experiences and qualifications that make them a terrific group to facilitate workshops and work with school communities. Teachers, parents, and professionals, most of our team wear many hats. All of them are passionate and committed to enhancing parental engagement for improved learning outcomes for students. Family Focus Consultancy believe that we have the presenter to suit your educational community needs. Indeed, we know that our Family Focus Consultancy team can help you find your “parent talk” in a manner that is refreshing, fun and informative. Our presenters are available for workshops, presentations and speaking engagements. Family Focus Consultancy can meet your needs.
Found the touch of research very useful as thinking purely from a parent’s point of view can be very difficult. Good to see from a wider perspective.
I believe the best part of the course is being able to hear other “real life” strategies and tangible plans/ideas to take back to school.
I think the plan for more information and strategies for schools to engage with parents through social media would be extremely useful.
Tenterfield Teacher Group
Rachael Sowden is a committed and well-informed advocate for parents and public education. She is a reflective and insightful communicator who has provided me with invaluable advice and counsel that has influenced my career pathway.
Her knowledge of DEC policy and practice is extensive, and this combined with her advocacy for students with disabilities has been fundamental in influencing me to value the importance of a parents' role within the education system.
Michelle Gallop - Principal - Cullen Bullen Public School
Great that Rachael had an expertise of teachers and parents and real examples!
Great to network in small groups. Thank you!
Enjoyed the day thank you. Open discussion was good.
Helpful information, Loved being able to exchange ideas with other participants, looking forward to the support materials via email.
Having a small group and being able to chat and discuss issues was great. Felt presenter had enough personal background to make the information presented relevant.
Small group size and facilitated discussion were ideal for this content area. Scenarios were interesting and relevant.
Loved the small group atmosphere. Made you feel very comfortable with sharing ideas and experiences.
A good way to share an understanding of what is happening at other schools. Some great ideas to help to the planning of moving forward with parent engagement
Newcastle Teacher Group
Great to access other people's ideas, experience and perspectives.
Being able to look at whole school approaches. Looking from the parent perspective.
Shared stories were great.
Very informative presentation A great building frame to collaborate information learnt and shared.
Thought provoking. I enjoyed hearing the experiences of different people in this area.
Reminded me of some key priorities that I needed reminding of. Lots of practical tips and ideas.
Great to have a presentation where face to face interactions and sharing was the focus. I really liked the mix the presenter gave us, and the different backgrounds of participation. This provided great discussion and depth of topics. I think this is an important selling point of the course. Looking forward to the matrix.
Moree Teacher Group