The role of the school in the community.
Henderson, Suasan Yvonne
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff.
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This study investigates, by means of questionnaire, interviews and diary the role of a small school in a changing communty. The impetus for the study came from a gradual decline in pupil numbers and the possible perceptions of a diminishing role of the school in the community. The study aímed to investigate therefore, how a small school can remain a viable and integral part of its community by developing partnerships with parents and by providing lifelong learning oppoftunities for all community members. The study looks at how the school can take responsibility for its budget however small, by attracting funding from various agencies in order to facilitate the partnership projects and thus raising positive perceptions of the school in its locality. The ideology of lifelong leaming provision is a central theme of "The Learning Country"(National Assembly for Wales 2001) with its vision for schools to be set at the heart of the community it serves. The school identified a series of projects which actively encouraged the support of parents in their children's learning and investigated the impact of parental partnerships on learning. The responses to the questionnaires interviews and diary clearly showed that parents thought highly of the school and were pleased to be involved on a day to day basis. As a result of the various initiatives developed, the role of the school in its community was clearly defined and positive perceptions raised. As a result of developing partnerships with local businesses the school was better placed financially to undertake the projects outlined in the study and the school is now a well resourced and attractive environment which has also impacted positively on teaching and learning. During the time in which this study took place the school gained its Basic Skills Quality Mark, had a very successful Estyn Inspection and was awarded the Silver Level Eco School Award. All these are positive indicators of the success of initiatives developed and tracked throughout the study. Consequently, this study suggests that parental partnership programmes, together with positive partnerships with local industries, have a positive impact upon learning resulting in a raised awareness of the role of the school in its community.
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