UKEdMag: Bringing the community into school…by @JMcKay1972

What is a community?

From a learners’ perspective through discussions with my current Primary 6 class, it was revealed that information from school rarely reached the hands of parents and although most learners did share details of their learning and school-based activities, it was apparent that some did not want to involve parents in their learning and were keen to separate school from home. This mirrors my previous statement about parents having negative experiences from their own school days but also learners felt that their parents would not understand the context and complexity of their education. This resulting in the possibility of parents feeling excluded making them appear to exude traits of being unfriendly or non-accessible to the school. Effective and purposeful leadership and an implemented structured policy regarding home-school relationships will allow educators to ‘reach out’ to all parents is of paramount importance.

In reflection of my own practice, I argue that rather than matching parents to our school values is it not the moral obligation of the school to seek out any potential gains that these parents could offer to learners and the school repertoire? And although within education policy there is an assumption that initiating involvement lies with the parent, it is imperative in all cases for schools and leadership teams to be responsive to parents and share the balance of power in exhibiting the schools’ expectations.

In summary, bringing the community into the school requires a huge amount of effort. It would be easier in my opinion if a struggling school requires overhauling but when a school is successful in many areas of improvement, leadership and the ethos is creates, it can be difficult to recruit new community members, namely parents to share in this recognition. Previous poor experiences of education and negative relationships with professionals can often erect huge barriers for non-engagers, with long term effects. Strengthening an existing successful school and collaborating together to unite the community in developing and sustaining ‘real life’ learning experiences is one indication on how valuable the community can be. Partnerships allow for focus on a range of opportunities that will promote school readiness, consistency in attendance and punctuality, parental engagement and more importantly the health and well-being of children and their parents.

Realising ‘success’ as a community provides support to the challenges faced by families and empower learners to achieve academic success, no matter how big or small. Partners are also involved in decision making, planning and implementation of engagement activities. The purpose of bringing the overall community into the school can be measured through expanded learning, career and citizenship choices, health and social support, all with a vision of sharing the power and providing effective solutions for tomorrow’s future.


Jackie McKay @JMcKay1972 is a creative and highly motivated teacher at Bannockburn Primary School, Stirling. She is enthusiastic and keen to drive new initiatives to enhance learning and raise attainment.

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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