Professional perceptions and practices in a community-oriented school

Parr, Elizabeth (2016) Professional perceptions and practices in a community-oriented school. In: British Education Research Association Annual Conference, 13th - 15th September 2016, Leeds: University of Leeds.

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An ongoing educational policy concern in England is the link between educational attainment and socio-economic status. Although numerous in-school approaches have been advocated over the years there is a continuing practice of schools to look beyond the school gates to explore
working with parents and communities. Despite a wealth of advocacy texts for this approach, there is little detailed research into how community-oriented schools are understood and enacted by educational professionals who are central to the development of practice in this policy arena.

This study aimed to respond to this gap. In order to investigate professional perceptions and practices of a community-oriented school in disadvantaged contexts, in depth analysis and reflection were required about how this approach is understood by professionals and what has influenced their thinking and ensuing action. Therefore the overarching research question was: what are the characteristics of professionals’ practice and perceptions of a community-oriented approach in the context of a primary school located in a socio-economically disadvantaged community?

To answer this systematically, ecological levels of analysis ranging from proximal (micro) to distal (macro) influences were considered including personal biographies, pedagogical understandings, the location of the school in the community and macro-level policy issues. In order to achieve deep reflection on the way community-oriented schooling is understood and enacted by professionals, a case study design that was ethnographic in approach was used. Within this, a suite of research methods was used including critical incident technique interviews, observations of practice, follow-up interviews and a critical discourse analysis of the school’s policy documents. Subsequently, the intersections and interrelated nature of the data was considered using narrative portraits as a synthesising tool.

The findings suggest there is complex interrelationship between proximal and distal factors informing perceptions and practices. It is not enough for schools to provide community-oriented activities as it is the professionals’ engagement and enactment of the approach that differs based on their understandings and experiences. This study suggests that enactment of community-oriented schooling cannot be generalised as this research process has required the professionals to dissect, scrutinise and have a dialogue with the ways they visualise and operate within the school’s policies and practices.

This study contributes to knowledge about how professionals perceive and practice in community-oriented schools and highlights the way that school leaders need to develop approaches that recognise diversity in enactment and enable professionals’ articulations of community-oriented approaches to be central to school-level policy decisions.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Education > Teacher Education
Depositing User: Elizabeth Parr
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2020 10:29
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2020 10:29

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