Regardless of the nature or longevity of the engagement, the primary motivation for school-community collaborations should be about improving outcomes for students.
Michele Lonsdale and Michelle Anderson Australian Council for Educational Research Highly effective schools have high levels of parent and community engagement.[i ] ‘Community’ here includes parents, business and philanthropic organisations, and various services and not-for-profit groups.
How ‘engagement’ is defined and what it looks like in practice will vary from school to school.
Schools are seen to have an important role in enhancing wellbeing so that students can realise their full potential, cope with the stresses of life and participate fully in their community.
Increasingly schools are expected to educate young people to behave responsibly in relation to drugs and alcohol, cyber safety, road safety and their sexual health. In the 1950s and ’60s there was little interaction between schools and the wider community.
The community, in turn, is seen as an important source of resources and expertise for the school.
For many rural and remote schools in Australia, the notion of schools and communities coming together has a longer history.
Teachers and principals can strengthen and in some cases develop new knowledge and skills in project management, human resources, budgeting and marketing.
Businesses can meet their corporate responsibility goals, be exposed to the innovative thinking of young people, and potentially have access to a more highly skilled future workforce in the local area.
But, as the growing body of research makes quite clear, support from those beyond the school gates is an essential part of preparing learners for the twenty-first century.
Schools are expected to prepare students for a complex and rapidly changing world.