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ERIC Number: EJ1110351
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0013-1881
Conceptualising School-Community Relations in Disadvantaged Neighbourhoods: Mapping the Literature
Kerr, Kirstin; Dyson, Alan; Gallannaugh, Frances
Educational Research, v58 n3 p265-282 2016
Background: The field of school-community relations is well established in the scholarly literature. However, its largely descriptive and fragmented nature has served to disguise its conceptual complexity. To date, the sets of assumptions about school-community relations which underpin the literature, and the opportunities, tensions and limitations inherent in these, have tended to remain implicit. Consequently, while stronger school-community relations have typically been seen as desirable--and especially so as a mechanism for tackling neighbourhood disadvantage--the more contentious issues of what, precisely, they should be seeking to achieve, how and whose values they should promote, have far less often been discussed. This paper foregrounds these issues. Purpose: A conceptual map of the scholarly literature on school-community relations is developed, surfacing the sets of understandings embedded in the field by academic authors. The map is intended to act as a heuristic tool, helping readers to navigate and critique the field and to identify gaps in the literature which must now be addressed. Design and methods: A review was undertaken of the subset of the school-community literature concerned with the role of schools in relation to geographically located communities experiencing economic and associated forms of disadvantage. The scholarly literature published in English since 1990 was searched, using strings of search terms representing "school" + "community" + "disadvantage." A process of conceptual synthesis was used to surface the understandings embedded in the literature, with 60 texts being read and summarised in detail by a minimum of two reviewers. Two external advisory groups of academic experts (a UK-based cross-disciplinary group, and an international group of education specialists) supported the review process by identifying relevant literatures in their specialist fields and national contexts, and by challenging and elaborating the reviewers' emerging interpretations of understandings embedded in the literature. Findings and conclusions: The field is dominated by texts which take for granted the leading role of professionals (for instance, teachers, principals, public service officers and policy-makers) acting on agendas determined outside communities, and which have a tendency to cast communities in the largely passive role of responding to school-initiated interventions. A smaller subset of literature focuses on community-initiated actions and most often reports examples of parents developing programmes to support students' learning. While these offer important critiques of professional, deficit-driven conceptualisations of communities, they still tend to locate communities as supporting professional agendas rather than as having opportunities to shape these from a community standpoint. The field is also dominated by accounts of ameliorative actions taken to alleviate the acute symptoms of underlying disadvantage and there are very few accounts of actions seeking to transform local circumstances by tackling underlying inequalities. This weighting may reflect the opportunities for action most readily available to schools and communities wishing to tackle neighbourhood disadvantage. The most productive avenues for future research may therefore lie in exploring how possibilities for ameliorative action can be strengthened and can bring together professional and community perspectives.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A