The Impact of School-Community Involvement on Students, Teachers, and the Community

The Impact of School-Community Involvement on Students, Teachers, and the Community

Carolyn Gregoric (Flinders University, Australia) and Laurence Owens (Flinders University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7495-0.ch012
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Abstract

Business and community groups have a long history of involvement in schools. Although their role in schools is gaining prominence and recognition in national and state government education policies, few Australian studies have investigated this phenomenon from the perspectives and experiences of all the stakeholders: students, teachers, and the community. This chapter seeks to increase understanding of school-community involvement by reporting on a study conducted within two high schools in Adelaide, South Australia. Drawing on interviews with students, staff, and the community, and inductive grounded theory research techniques, this chapter examines current perspectives and experiences with a view to informing future policy development. Findings indicate that while many positive outcomes occur when schools and the community work together, the potential of school-community involvement is not always fully realised. The recommendations aim to redress this by enhancing opportunities, reviewing policies, and building capacity within schools and the community.
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Background

By helping to develop skills and capacities, the community can provide multiple opportunities for achieving and increasing learning and wellbeing outcomes within schools. Consequently, community involvement has become an integral part of many schools. Throughout this chapter the term “school-community activities” is used to refer to the many varied things that schools and the community can do together (e.g., programs and services). The diversity of activities across a school reflects a wide range of needs and preferences, and organisational capacities and constraints. At any given time, school-community activities at different stages of development co-exist; that is, some activities are under construction, some in progress and others concluding. Activities may be once-off or ongoing. The extent of involvement can be considered on a continuum from no—to extensive—involvement. Other variables include size, duration, participation and location (Gregoric, 2013).

The paradigm1 of school-community involvement is much more than individual school-community activities. School-community involvement is about the collective and integrative nature of individual school-community activities. Sanders (2003, p. 162) considered community involvement in schools as the “connections between schools and individuals, businesses, and formal and informal organisations and institutions in a community.” Similarly for the purposes of this chapter, school-community involvement is defined as the many ways in which schools and community and business organisations interact. Relationships between students, teachers, community and business organisations and others actualise school-community involvement.

School-community interactions are inherently complex and multi-dimensional involving the convergence of people, activities and organisations that manifests differently in different schools (Gregoric, 2013). Awareness of this confluence, and how it changes over time, is key to understanding the complexity of school-community interactions. The school-community interaction framework captures this complexity by highlighting the core components enabling school-community involvement (see Figure 1 below).

Figure 1.

School-community interaction framework

The school-community interaction framework (see Figure 1) highlights the dynamics between people, organisations and activities associated with school-community involvement. The focus in this chapter is on one of these core elements — the people, with a focus on students, teachers and the community. Yet in so doing acknowledgement and discussion of the other elements is unavoidable.

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