Links with Community

These materials were adapted from Parents as Partners in their Children’s Learning produced by The Scottish Government, Crown Copyright 2006.

Schools do not exist in isolation. They are based in communities and are there to serve those communities. Some larger schools may serve more than one identifiable community and they therefore need to be aware of any differences in approach that are necessary for each community. Schools provide a service that is available for everyone, which makes them a key resource for children and families in that neighbourhood.

Schools are also part of a network of organizations that provide services and support to communities. Parents can encourage or build on links between the school and the local community. The starting point, as always, is what is important for this school. Schools may already involve some people from the community working in the school alongside parents.

Community venues can often be good places to make contact with parents who may lack confidence in approaching the school or getting involved there. For some parents, school can be rather daunting and it is important to meet people where they feel most comfortable.

Parent Advisory Councils are well placed to make links with other agencies. In particular, they are encouraged to develop links with pre-school and further/higher education establishments to ensure continuity of education for children and young people.

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When Things Go Well

What it looks like when things go well

  • Parents get information from the school about a range of services and activities available in the community.
  • The school and Parent Advisory Council of elementary schools have positive relationships with the pre-school groups in their community and parents with children at those groups are welcomed at school and parent activities.
  • Information about the school is available in other community venues, in particular: libraries, and community centres.
  • Bilingual community members support parents for whom English is not their first language in communicating with the school.
  • The school uses other community venues for some of its activities, for example swimming pools, sports and leisure centres, theatres and museums.
  • Local businesses contribute to children's learning by offering visits or work placements and coming to school to talk about their work.
  • Local shops and businesses support fundraising events or sponsor particular school activities.
  • The school participates in major community events, for example local celebrations.

Files

PDF file: Checklist - parents and teachers developing links between a school and the local community (12 KB)

Word file: Checklist - parents and teachers developing links between a school and the local community (31 KB)

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Examples and Activities

Example - a community working together to help the school

Parents at an elementary school decided to tidy up the playground over the summer holidays. This included tidying the woodland garden area during summer break.

They put up a poster in a local shop asking for volunteers as well as sending a note home with the children. The work happened over several weekends and there were many helpers.

  • The people who took part included a lot of parents who did not have time to help on a regular basis or through the week.
  • Some older children who were now at secondary school came along to help.
  • Other people who were not parents came because they were keen to help or because they were friends with one of the parents.
  • Some people were there on most days.
  • Others just came for a few hours on one day.
  • People did different tasks.
  • Some people handed in food, so everyone could share sandwiches and home baking each day.

One person took lots of photographs. They were all posted up inside the school and some of the best and funniest went into the window of the local shop with a big thank you sign.

The 'Making the most of your community' activity sets out to identify the resources that are available to support children's learning in the community and to share this information with parents through a community directory or a community learning showcase.

Files

PDF file: Activity - making the most of your community (51 KB)

Word file: Activity - making the most of your community (42 KB)

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Fundraising for the School

Fundraising has traditionally been an activity that many parent groups have undertaken very successfully over the years and have raised many thousands of dollars to support their children's schools.

In their discussions of the school development plan, Parent Advisory Councils may identify particular items or activities that would benefit from additional funding. There may be discussions about what the priorities are and these can then be checked out with other parents.

Once targets are set, it may be effective to form a fundraising sub-committee. Some parents will have particular talents in that area and it may be a way of involving a wider group of parents to help with specific activities.

What it looks like when things go well

  • Parents, teachers and students are involved in identifying priorities for fundraising and in generating ideas to achieve these.
  • Different fundraising approaches are used for different purposes.
  • Local businesses and shops are involved through donations or prizes or sponsorship of appropriate items or activities.
  • Events and activities appeal to a range of interests and personal budgets - there's something for everyone.
  • Fundraising events are an opportunity for parents and teachers to work together on a common task and develop positive relationships.
  • There are fundraising events organised by students linked to educational activities within the school.
  • Activities follow the three 'Fs' (Fun, Food and Families) formula. Events that provide fun activities for all family members - adults and children - and also provide food are usually the most successful and the ones that people want to come back to again and again.
  • Parents are able to contribute any particular skills or talents they have.
  • The school 'piggybacks' on any wider community fundraising events.
  • As well as a few 'big' events in the year there are some smaller-scale ongoing fundraising events.
  • Everyone's contribution of effort or money is appreciated - however small.
  • Success is celebrated and people are thanked.

Example - using local business to sponsor an activity

An elementary school has developed its website with funds from a trust set up by a local company. In return the company gets a mention on the website and some free publicity. This school has also developed a partnership with another firm that has helped the school purchase additional computer and IT equipment.

Files

PDF file: Checklist - fundraising events (18 KB)

Word file: Checklist - fundraising events (40 KB)