The compelling case for learning partnerships
Learning is not limited to the classroom. The beliefs, expectations and experience of parents is a powerful determinant in student’s achievement. Understanding the school, home and community contribution to student learning helps cultivate a holistic learning environment.
Learning partnerships raise parent's awareness of their power to improve their children's learning. Effective learning partnerships involve the commitment of schools, parents and the community to improve students' learning, at school and at home.
While involving parents in school activities (e.g. volunteering, fund raising, attending school events) is important, it is engagement through learning partnerships which has been shown to have much greater impact on student outcomes (Harris, Andrew-Power, & Goodall, 2009, pp. 12-13).
Berrinba East State School - Jumpstart
Jumpstart is a learning partnership program that builds early numeracy and literacy skills by building parent capacity to support student learning at home and school (FLV, 0:51 mins). Click through to YouTube to learn more about Jumpstart.
Engagement is most effective when parents and teachers establish mutual respect for each other, as they work in 'separate or overlapping spheres of influence on children's learning' (Epstein, 2009, pp. 8-12).
Each school must adopt an approach best suited for their unique community to ensure that learning stretches beyond the school. Otero (2011) suggests schools use a whole school community model of engagement, including:
- high expectations for all adults and students who participate in the work of the school
- the practice of building on the students, parents and community's strengths
- a priority on creating and fostering partnerships, public and private, from many parts of the community
- recognition and acceptance by schools, families and community partners of a shared responsibility for results
- willingness to embrace diversity, recognizing that it brings strengths to the community and opportunities for growth
- responding to the needs and assets of the school community by involving all stakeholders in the process of creating and recreating school programs and services.
Guiding questions on learning partnerships
- How can the school community ensure its focus for partnerships is student learning? How can the school build active parent engagement to support learning within the home?
- How can the school ensure parents believe they have a significant role in their child's education? How can schools support parents to be actively engaged in their child's learning, at home and at school?
- How do teachers seek to understand and learn about students, including their home and community? How does the school seek to understand students' culture and the contributions it makes to learning?
- How can the school leverage community, industry and business knowledge and skills?
- How does the school select and use appropriate media to support learning partnerships? How does the school select an appropriate blend of face-to-face and online collaboration to enable teachers, parents and community members to work together effectively?
- Where online spaces such as Virtual Classrooms or Learning Place studios are considered suitable, how can teachers and parents be supported to use them effectively?
- Are there opportunities to develop partnerships with parents or the community that could deliver more innovative models of education and training?