Schools do not exist in isolation – they are often the central hub of the local community. Members of your school’s local community offer unique knowledge, expertise and perspectives that your school can use to enhance student wellbeing and make learning more authentic and connected. Collaboration between your school and local community provides many opportunities for schools to develop a better understanding of their broader community and to build strong relationships with their local context. School can leverage their position in the community to work together with other community members to benefit all.
Community partners may range from child and health services, sporting clubs, education and training partners and local businesses and industry. Through these partnerships, schools can offer a more diverse range of experiences and real-life learning opportunities that are not available through your school alone.
When your school decides to collaborate with their local community, the following points may be considered:
- What are the key characteristics and strengths of your local community? (e.g. demography, location, local industries)
- What can the local community offer to support your school in areas such as civic responsibility and development of social skills?
- How can local community members show their support and commitment to your school? Is the purpose of engagement with the community clearly defined?
- How can your school leverage local community knowledge and skills? How will this knowledge help your students?
- How does your school clearly define and measure roles and outcomes of any partnership with local community?
Collaborating with your local community is a continual process, with goal setting, review and measurement of success assessed throughout the year. The federal government has released guidelines for building effective school-business relationships. Many state governments have also implemented frameworks or guidelines which further outline how schools can effectively engage with their local communities. Some resources are listed below:
Showcase Existing Collaborations
Your school website can include case studies, which allow more in-depth explanation and analysis of an existing collaboration, particularly:
- Purpose of collaboration, and expected outcomes
- History of collaboration
- Review of individual successes of participating children
Visit the NSW Department of Education for some example case studies.
Showcasing collaborations serves to formally recognise community partners and also celebrate your mutual partnership. This also serves as a powerful marketing tool to attract more local community businesses to become partners with your school.
Shared Policy Resource Hub
When building relationships with your local community, shared policies and approaches may be developed and formally documented. These documents outline how your school and community can support effective learning and positive community outcomes, along with target objectives, timelines and key performance indicators.
Existing school policies and documents relating to governance should already be accessible to the public from your school website. It is important to also make available any shared policies/documents between your school and community partners on your school website. This allows parents, in particular, to better understand the mutual benefits of their child’s school partnering with a community business or member. In doing so, parents may be more likely to encourage their children to participate in such partnerships.
Little Munchkin Digital works with schools to promote ongoing local community partnerships. Find out more.
Part One: Using School Websites to Improve Parental Involvement in Education
Part Two: Improving Communication Between School and Home
Part Three: Volunteering: How to Get Parents Involved
Part Four: Using School Websites to Encourage Learning at Home
Part Five: Encouraging Parents to be Involved in School Governance