Abstract: The current remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education policy focus in Australia is focussed around the language and associated assumptions of ‘Closing the Gap’. In order to address comparatively poor statistical results, the federal government has put considerable funds and effort into improving school attendance rates and in the Northern Territory; a review of Indigenous education is underway. What seem to be missing in the language and policy dialogue, however, are the voices and priorities of the families of students who are the target of these policy interventions. This paper draws on a wide range of interviews with Aṉangu (Pitjantjatjara/ Yankunytjatjara) educators and community members where families speak on their own terms about the critical elements of a foundation for educational success. Whilst policy language positions the families of very remote Indigenous children as a ‘disadvantage’, families see themselves as the critical foundation for a child’s success in western education.