School-Home-Community: Inevitable Connections

by Barbara Šteh (Author) Janko Muršak (Author) Jasna Mažgon (Author) Jana Kalin (Author) Petra Gregorčič Mrvar (Author)
©2018 Monographs 196 Pages


This book theoretically analyses the characteristics of (partner) collaboration and the relationship between the school and the community, emphasising the joint efforts they undertake to further the child’s development and learning. The diversity of experiences that such cooperation offers benefits all partners. The second aspect presented in the book pertains to the findings of a quantitative and qualitative empirical research study on cooperation between primary schools and various partners in the community. Our research findings indicate a variety of intertwined forms of cooperation between the school, school counsellors, parents, individuals and institutions in the community. Examples of good practice suggest that it is possible to establish quality cooperation in many different ways.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • Series Page
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Contents
  • 1.1 Cooperation between the school and students’ homes
  • 1.1.1 What do cooperation with parents and involvement of parents mean?
  • 1.1.2 Approaches to establishing cooperation between the school and home
  • 1.1.3 The factors that impact on cooperation between the school and home
  • 1.1.4 Cooperation with different types of parents
  • 1.1.5 The benefits of cooperation between the school and home
  • 1.1.6 Obstacles to cooperation between the school and home
  • 1.1.7 Conditions for quality cooperation between the school and home
  • 1.2 Partnership between the school and the community
  • 1.3 The objectives of cooperation between the school and the community
  • 1.4 The core activities in the process of cooperation between the school and the community
  • 1.5 The advantages of cooperation between the school and the community
  • 1.6 Obstacles to cooperation between the school and the community
  • 1.7 Conditions for quality cooperation between the school and the community
  • 1.7.1 Professional preparation for partnerships and partners’ qualification
  • 1.7.2 Partner selection
  • 1.7.3 Partnership evaluation
  • 2.1 Conceptual bases for cooperation between the school counselling service and the community
  • 2.2 The levels of cooperation between the school counselling service and the community
  • 2.2.1 Cooperation among the school, the school counselling service and the community in supporting school and ensuring quality educational work
  • 2.2.2 Cooperation among the school, the school counselling service and the community in supporting and working with the students who need help
  • 2.3 The purposes and objectives of cooperation between the school counselling service and the community
  • 2.4 The institutions and individuals from the community that the school counselling service cooperates with
  • 2.5 Principles, guidelines and steps when establishing partnerships and joint cooperation programmes between the school counselling service and the community
  • 4.1 The research problem and research questions
  • 4.2 Research methodology
  • 4.2.1 The research method
  • 4.2.2 The sample and studied population
  • The schools sample
  • School size with regard to urban and non-urban environmentsThe variable urban/non-urban environment posed a dilemma: should we define it according to geography and size of the place or leave it to the respondents. We decided on the second option. The respondents were left to decide on one of the two options. We thought this was sufficiently justified, because the respondents know the characteristics of the life in their area best and so their assessments seem to be more credible than using quantitative or geographical characteristics.
  • The sample of school counsellors
  • The population included in the focus group
  • 4.2.3 Data collection instruments
  • Collecting data
  • 4.2.4 Processing data
  • 5.1 The contribution of the school to the community
  • 5.2 The contribution of individuals and institutions from the community to school life and work
  • 5.3 The frequency, wishes and goals of the school’s cooperation with individuals and institutions from the community
  • 5.3.1 Who the schools cooperate with and how frequently they do it
  • 5.3.2 Who the schools would like to cooperate with more
  • 5.4 Non-commercial cooperation between the school and the community
  • 5.4.1 Non-commercial availability of school spaces
  • 5.5 Planning cooperation among the school, other institutions and individuals from the community: how detailed it is and what the goals are
  • 5.6 What goals schools wish to achieve in the next three years in the area of cooperation with individuals and institutions from the community
  • 5.7 The obstacles to cooperation between the school and the community
  • 5.8 Conclusion
  • 6.1 Cooperation participants
  • 6.2 Cooperation frequency and duration
  • 6.3 Cooperation types
  • 6.4 Cooperation levels
  • 6.5 Cooperation advantages
  • 6.6 Necessary improvements to cooperation
  • 6.7 Head teachers’ additional observations about cooperation
  • 6.8 Conclusion
  • 7.1 Introduction
  • 7.2 Formulating the problem and key discussion issues
  • 7.3 The focus-groups discussion
  • 7.3.1 The participants’ introductory thoughts
  • 7.4 The social and cultural centre of the community
  • 7.4.1 Small communities
  • 7.4.2 Big and small schools
  • 7.4.3 Branch schools
  • 7.4.4 Intellectual centre
  • Cultural events
  • Traditional suburban environment
  • Local identity
  • Expectation awareness
  • Professional life
  • Personal contacts
  • Sense of belonging
  • 7.5 Expectations
  • 7.5.1 Parents
  • 7.5.2 Organisations
  • 7.6 Obstacles to cooperation
  • 7.6.1 Bureaucratic and political obstacles
  • 7.6.2 Mentality
  • 7.6.3 Risks
  • 7.7 Conclusion
  • 8.1 The frequency and evaluation of cooperation with different institutions from the community
  • 8.2 The role of the school counsellor in mutual cooperation
  • 8.3 The means of mutual cooperation
  • 8.4 The advantages of quality mutual cooperation
  • 8.5 Obstacles to mutual cooperation
  • 8.6 Descriptions of (positive and negative) experiences of mutual cooperation
  • 8.7 Conclusion
  • Index


1.1Cooperation between the school and students’ homes

A special place in cooperation between the school and the community is occupied by cooperation between the school and home, that is, between educators and parents. Research from the 1980s and 1990s (see e.g. Henderson and Berla, 1994; Pomerantz, Moorman and Litwack, 2007 and others) demonstrates that teachers, counsellors, head teachers, parents and students need mutual cooperation. This, too, is an unambiguous conclusion of a Slovenian study on cooperation between the school and home (Kalin, Resman, Šteh, Mrvar, Govekar-Okoliš and Mažgon, 2009).1 The study analysed the views of parents and teachers on how useful and necessary cooperation between parents and the school is, revealing that as many as 92.3 % of the parents and 98.6 % of the teachers agreed or agreed strongly with the statement that cooperation between parents and the school is necessary and useful (ibid., p. 125). The findings of the study confirm that both parents and teachers are aware of the significance of mutual cooperation and that at schools (in staff rooms, among teachers) there is generally genuine willingness as well as favourable atmosphere supporting cooperation with parents (ibid., p. 233). It is also interesting to look at the findings of a research study on the governance of the educational trajectories of children and adolescents at the European level (Ule, 2015).2 They show that parents in Slovenia, also when ←15 | 16→ compared with the European context, are involved in children’s and adolescents’ educational trajectories and school work a great deal. They demonstrate high educational aspirations, which their children seem to have largely internalised (ibid.).

Due to the issues just discussed, this chapter focuses on the laws of cooperation between the school and home, that is, between school-based educators and parents.

1.1.1What do cooperation with parents and involvement of parents mean?

Kalin et al. (2009) observe that despite the impression of general and widespread agreement on the fundamental principles and mechanisms which define the involvement of parents, different authors understand these concepts differently. There is no doubt that cooperation with parents is beneficial. Yet there is a lack of a deeper understanding of what such cooperation means and how it is likely to be ensured. Relationships between the school and home, between teachers and parents have always existed, but their intensity and the participants’ roles have undoubtedly been changing.

Parents’ involvement can be understood in a variety of ways. Some authors use the term as a synonym for parents’ cooperation and participation, parental power and school–family–community partnerships (Epstein, 1996; Wolfendale, 1989 in Soo-Yin, 2003). The involvement of parents may have different forms and levels, both inside and outside the school. It encompasses all the activities that the school ensures and supports and that assist parents with the intention of improving children’s learning and development. Pomerantz et al. (2007, p. 374) make the broad distinction between home-based and school-based involvement of parents in children’s education.

School-based involvement refers to parents’ and teachers’ or schools’ direct contacts, such as attending general school meetings, parent–teacher appointments, school events and volunteering at the school. Research in the USA (U.S. Department of Education 2006 in Pomerantz et al., 2007) indicates that about two thirds of parents, regardless of their ethnicity, become involved in general school meetings, parent–teacher appointments and school events. Involvement is even higher among parents with a higher socio-economic status ←16 | 17→ and formal education. Volunteering is less common, especially among less educated parents and parents from minority languages or cultures (ibid.).

Home-based involvement represents parents’ practices that take place outside the school, but not always or only at home. Such practices can be directly related to school, for instance assisting children with school tasks, guaranteeing children conditions to study, creating an adequate place for children to study, helping children with homework, providing advice on course selection, responding to children’s academic endeavours (helping choose the topics of school projects, test achievements), and talking with children about school issues (what happened at school, the importance of doing well, etc.). Also characteristic of parents’ home-based involvement is engaging children in intellectual activities (reading books with children, taking them to libraries, museums, galleries, etc.) that may not be directly related to school. Grolnick and Slowiaczek (1994 in Pomerantz et al., 2007) labelled this as cognitive-intellectual involvement.

However, both the forms, home-based and school-based involvement, are often directly related to each other and intertwined.

1.1.2Approaches to establishing cooperation between the school and home

Approaches to establishing cooperation and relationships between the school or teachers and home can be differentiated and classified, ranging from those that obstruct the involvement and active role of parents to those that promote it (Hornby, 2000).

In the protective model (Swap, 1993 in Hornby, 2000, p. 18), it is important to avoid conflicts between teachers and parents. This is best achieved through a total separation of teaching and parenting. Education is the school’s and teachers’ task, and parent involvement can be perceived as disturbing interference. The task of parents is to make sure children regularly bring all their school requisites to school. Swap (1993 in Hornby, 2000) considers this to be the most common model of the teacher–parent relationship.

In the expert model (Cunningham and Davis, 1985 in Hornby, 2000, p. 18), teachers consider themselves as experts in all the aspects of children’s development and education. The role of parents is to accept information and instructions regarding their children, and they are pushed into a completely submissive and dependent role. They are not supposed to question teachers’ decisions. They lose confidence in their own competence, while, at the same time, teachers with such an attitude are not admitted to the rich source of information that parents have about their children. Consequently, they often overlook significant ←17 | 18→ problems or abilities that children have. Furthermore, such teachers have no insight into the child’s family life, which can have a considerable impact on their learning. Parents are typically deeply dissatisfied with the teachers’ attitudes.

In the transmission model (Swap, 1993 in Hornby, 2000, pp. 18–19), teachers still consider themselves as the main source of expertise, but they do accept that parents can play an important role in encouraging their child’s progress. They propose particular measures to parents and expect them to implement them. Some parents may become overburdened.

In the curriculum-enrichment model (Swap, 1993 in Hornby, 2000, p. 19), the parents’ contribution is seen as enriching the curriculum and thus significantly enhancing the school’s educational goals. Recently, multicultural education has become very topical, in which parents from different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds help discover the histories, values, cultures and traditions of their groups of origin. But parents’ contribution is not at all limited to multiculturalism. It is a good opportunity for teachers and parents to learn from one another. The problem is that parents enter the area of teaching and many teachers find this threatening.

In the consumer model (Cunningham and Davis, 1985 in Hornby, 2000, pp. 19–20), parents have control over decision-making. The teachers’ role is to present all relevant information and available possibilities to parents and to help them choose the optimum course of action. There can be no fear, here, that parents could be pushed into a dependent role, but the fact that teachers lose their professional responsibility is problematic in the same way as the opposite situation, where teachers are seen as experts on all the aspects of the child’s development.

The most suitable model of teacher–parent cooperation is the partnership model. It includes the sharing of expertise and control with a view to ensuring the optimum education for children, to which both teachers and parents contribute. Naturally, it is impossible to establish such a partnership without mutual respect between teachers and parents. Teachers and parents should listen to each other’s opinions and take them into account. Furthermore, a partnership occurs when there is joint planning and sharing of responsibilities as well as a long-lasting effort and joint activities. Hornby (2000, pp. 20–21) highlights the four key elements of such a partnership:

two-way communication;

mutual support;

joint decision-making;

enhancement of learning.

The partnership model is seen as the most suitable model for developing constructive parent involvement, because teachers also take parents’ needs into account and are aware of various manners in which parents can contribute to the development and education of their children. However, this does not mean that the model is the most suitable for all situations. It is important to be flexible and to adapt the approach to parents’ characteristics, too. At a certain moment some parents may welcome a clear introduction to the scheme of home reading as a way of helping the child learn reading skills, at another moment parents may be the most qualified to choose a topic to be discussed during ‘the school for parents’.

It is important for every school to encourage and facilitate partnerships that increase the involvement of parents and their participation in the social, emotional and intellectual development of children (The State of America’s Children, 2000, p. 64). The school, parents and the community should be aware of their relationships. They should work together to create a shared vision and to understand the role of individual factors in relation to the roles of others. Such cooperation is necessary to ensure the support and assistance that every child needs for an adequate academic achievement.

Epstein (1996) writes that it all depends on whether the school is able to prepare good programmes of cooperation with parents. She believes that schools can attract even the most ‘hardened’ parents or families if they offer excellent programmes. The author even maintains that good programmes make parents teachers’ partners in the process of educating children, regardless of income, education level, place of residence, number of family members, etc.

1.1.3The factors that impact on cooperation between the school and home

Cooperation between the school and home (parents) depends on a variety of factors and their interaction. Based on a comprehensive overview of studies on cooperation between the school and home, Eccles and Harold (1996) list a number of factors.

First, they emphasise parentsor familiescharacteristics, relationships and attitudes towards the school. Parent/family characteristics include gender, age, education, cultural origin, number of children, marital status, employment status, socio-economic status, psychological support in the family, and parentsrelationships and attitudes include values, parental role, satisfaction with themselves, attitudes towards the school, their own schooling, expectations of the child’s schooling and achievements, perception of the child’s abilities and interests, attitudes towards the child’s skills, relationship with the child, educational goals, etc. A number of authors (see Ule, 2015) emphasise that parents’ education levels have an important and, above all, very subtle impact on children’s school achievements. Parents with higher education levels provide better arguments for their expectations and represent their children better at the school. Research also shows that teachers devote significantly more attention to the children whose parents come to the school more often and articulate their worries, demands, expectations, etc. more clearly. At the same time teachers interpret the less frequent visits from less educated parents as a sign of neglect. However, research suggests that, on average, less educated parents do visit their children’s teachers less often, but not as a consequence of their indifference, but of a feeling of incompetence. And yet – would teachers react differently if they were acquainted with this interpretation? For the most part not, probably. It seems to make more sense, due to a lack of time, to give more attention to those who explicitly demand it (ibid.).

Child characteristics include the child’s gender, age, cultural origin, skills, interests, past experiences and temperament. School personnel characteristics, relationships and attitudes are also important. School personnel characteristics include gender, age, cultural origin, socio-economic status, years of teaching, and school personnel relationships and attitudes include values, parental role, stereotypes, satisfaction with themselves, the goals they set their students, attitudes towards students, knowledge and skills in the area of cooperation with parents. School characteristics are the type and level of school, its size, socio-economic status, atmosphere and attitudes towards cooperation with parents. Broader environment characteristics consist of cooperation opportunities with other institutions in the community and at home, support in other institutions, security and support in the environment where the school is located and where the child lives. To these factors Epstein (1996) adds the time that is available for cooperation on the side of the school and parents; a lack of time has a negative impact on the relationship and mutual cooperation.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (March)
community cooperation institutional cooperation partnership characteristics school counselling parents non/urban environment local community collaboration communication school culture
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien. 2018. 196 S., 18 s/w Tab.

Biographical notes

Barbara Šteh (Author) Janko Muršak (Author) Jasna Mažgon (Author) Jana Kalin (Author) Petra Gregorčič Mrvar (Author)

The monograph is a result of teamwork within the research program "Pedagogical and andragogical studies – Learning and education for a good quality life in community". All contributors are professors at the Department of Educational Sciences, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. Barbara Šteh is an associate professor of Educational Psychology. Her research interest includes the quality of learning and teaching and the teachers’ professional development. Janko Muršak is a full professor of Vocational pedagogy and andragogy. His research work is focused on career development and professional identity as well as on cooperation between school and work environment. Jasna Mažgon is an associate professor of Educational Methodology and focuses mainly on the development of mixed methodological approaches. Jana Kalin is a full professor of Didactics. Her research work encompasses teachers’ professional development and their competences and the quality of higher education. Petra Gregorčič Mrvar is an assistant professor. Her research area covers school pedagogy, school counselling, and educational leadership and management in schools.


Title: School-Home-Community: Inevitable Connections
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197 pages