The compelling case for community collaboration
Schools do not exist in isolation - they are often the central hub of their community. Schools should leverage their position in the community to work together with other community members, for the benefit of all.
Community approaches to learning improvement make it possible for schools to form strategic partnerships with families and community organisations. This type of collaboration can help students come to school ready and able to learn.
Michael Fullan (2000) identifies that effective schools actively seek out relationships with the community. They work at developing everyone's capacity so that parents can be vital partners in their children's learning.
Kirwan State High School - Doorways to success
Doorways to success supports student achievement of qualifications, retention and attendance through real world collaborations with local industry and community groups (FLV, 0:57mins). Click through to Youtube to learn more about Kirwan State High School.
Effective community collaboration gives schools the ability to cater for diverse students including those with 'formidable needs and risk factors' (Anderson-Butcher et al., 2010).
Students bring their personal interests, cultural backgrounds and past experiences to their learning. Schools that recognise and work with the local community are able to create learning environments that motivate and engage students by making learning real and relevant.
Community members and organisations offer unique knowledge, expertise and perspectives that schools can use to make learning more authentic and connected.
Guiding questions on community collaboration
- What are the key characteristics and strengths of the community? In particular, what positive influences can community groups and members have on students and their readiness to learn?
- What can the community do to support the school in areas such as drug education, anti-bullying, civic responsibility and the development of social skills?
- What does the community, including local employers, expect from the school? How can they contribute to, and benefit from improved student learning?
- How can the school establish and nurture genuine partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and individuals?
- How can the school establish and nurture genuine partnerships with significant local migrant communities and individuals?