Collaborating in school networks: The realities of navigating the professional boundaries of schools

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    This article reports on the findings of a small-scale study that explores the co-ordination of external partners into schools and the realities of being involved in this work. The study used one-to-one interviews to explore the perceptions of four school teaching/support staff and 15 external partners from different sectors, attached to two schools in England. The findings reveal how the range of co-ordinating roles introduced by policies are creating a complexity that external partners are having to navigate. The focus on academic outcomes and reduced budgets, means that the schools are perceived as an invited space where external partner access is controlled. The findings highlighted how the external partners had their own co-ordinators who were working in parallel to the school-based co-ordinators to overcome these challenges. To connect with schools, the external partners highlighted the need to find the decision maker who could exist in addition to a co-ordinator. Despite capacity concerns in the literature, the involvement of the headteacher as the co-ordinator was beneficial for quality, value for money and checking of ethos. The conclusion argues that the co-ordinating roles within the external partners need to be recognised together with the challenges they are facing when attempting to access schools. Those involved in this work in schools and external partners need to be the right person which is someone with shared values and a mutual understanding of the benefit of this work.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEducational Futures Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 30 Jun 2022


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