Tips for Leaders: 7. Community Engagement

Dec 18, 2023 | Blogs

Tips for Leaders: 7. Community Engagement

Dec 18, 2023 | Blogs

‘Not so many years ago, most teachers would live in the community that their school served and would have a direct interest in engaging with that community and building strong relationships. This is rarely the case today, so schools have to work harder to create durable school-community links.’ (John West-Burnham and Dave Harris, 2015)

As school leaders, it’s important to form meaningful connections with our local communities. Building relationships with members of the community can help create an inclusive environment for everyone, strengthens ties between educational institutions and those they serve, and promotes a more cohesive society overall. But developing these relationships involves much more than just having the right intentions; it requires that we take strategic actions to engage with the community in meaningful ways. In this blog, we’ll explore different ways of successfully connecting with our local communities.

How can a school engage with the community to mutual benefit?

  • The community can be used as a resource to enhance curriculum, teaching and learning.
  • Schools can contribute to the community through volunteering, development projects, working with local charities etc.
  • Schools can work with and support the community to improve student engagement and well-being.

How committed is the school in engaging with the external community?

  • What strategies does the school / governors have for engaging with and involving the local community?
  • Do leaders and governors recognise the potential benefits in engaging the local community, residents and businesses?
  • Is community involvement part of the school development plan and the governing body strategic plan?

How do you currently communicate and engage the local community?

  • How often do you engage with or communicate with the local community?
  • Do you promote the work of the school in the local community?
  • Do you utilise local businesses in the life of the school?

What contribution do the local community members make to the school?

  • Do members of the local community volunteer in school (other than parents)?
  • Do they provide extra-curricular activities?
  • Do local businesses contribute?

What contribution do you make to the local community?

  • Do you provide resources for the local community?
  • Are you used as an informal community centre?
  • Does the school take part in local community activities?

What challenges do you face in engaging the local community?

  • Do the governors support school leaders in engaging the local community?
  • Is the school located in an area of deprivation and high need?
  • Do residents and businesses understand school and its needs?
  • Are there any negative views of the school? Are there historic difficulties?

Do you invite community members to school events?

  • Are the local community invited to school events? If so, which type of events?
  • Which residents or businesses are invited? What is the uptake for this?

This blog was written by Bretta Townend-Jowitt, Education Consultant and Trainer. 

Have you read our other blogs in this series?

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