Understanding Professional Perceptions of a Community-Oriented School using Q Methodology

Parr, Elizabeth (2015) Understanding Professional Perceptions of a Community-Oriented School using Q Methodology. In: British Education Research Association Annual Conference, 15th - 17th September 2015, Queen's University Belfast.

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Abstract

As schools and policymakers increasingly recognise the importance of school-community links in dealing with a range of educational and social issues (Nettles, 1991; Putnam, 2000; Desforges and Abouchaar, 2003). A wealth of research suggests that outside school, issues such as poverty, healthcare and housing can influence engagement in education (Anyon, 2005; Mujis, 2010; Raffo et al., 2011). There have been numerous policy attempts to facilitate schools working with their communities to provide a holistic set of services and to engage parents and families.

The author of this paper is a professional doctorate student at the University of Manchester and worked as a primary school teacher when this study was carried out. It is a small-scale case study of professionals’ perceptions in a community-oriented school and builds on the mapping framework developed by Dyson et al. (2011) to explore school-community relations. The overarching question is: How do a school’s professionals interpret their community-oriented school? In answering this, a set of sub-questions are also addressed; how do professionals conceptualise:
• what their school does to engage with local community members
• how successful their school is with this engagement
• the way their school could change and improve how it works with the local community
• barriers preventing their school changing and working effectively with its community.

The study uses Q methodology followed by semi-structured interviews with a range of professionals from the case study school. Following analysis of the data, individual profiles of each professional are created and their perceptions are located on the mapping framework.

The findings highlight that most professionals see the school’s community orientation as being led by other professionals (exogenous agendas) and aiming to improve outcomes through the use of compensatory education along with additional services (working within existing societal arrangements). Although some professionals see the need for the school to re-orientate links with the community in the future, there are disparities between how they envisage this happening: some professionals would like the school to become more community-led (endogenous agendas), while others aspire to be more radical by tackling the causes of disadvantage (transforming existing societal arrangements) rather than just dealing with its consequences.

This study contributes to knowledge about how professionals interpret community-oriented schooling, using recent empirical data to illuminate issues identified by the mapping framework. It forms part of a longer-term study which will provide valuable insight into how to overcome some of the barriers to school-community engagement.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Education > Teacher Education
Depositing User: Elizabeth Parr
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2020 10:33
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2020 10:33
URI: https://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/3049

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