Promoting Collaboration Toolset
for equity and learning

Stakeholders or partnership?

Conceptually, this question falls both within the problematic of school autonomy and within stakeholders' capacity to support positive relationships through different networks and to fully participate in school improvement policies.

stakeholders In the context of the schools' organization and structuring for promoting learning, the concept of "Stakeholders", or more appropriately, "Partners" (the ones that share the responsibility for the education process) involves the teachers, the students, the parents, the policy makers, the school administration authorities (local, regional and state/national), the teacher training agencies, and academics/researchers within their role to analyse, interpret and unveil the meanings of undertaken actions.

In contemporary societies students have gained relevance as partners, from the moment they were given voice and empowered, and their participation increased and expanded to the most different areas. The role of media as opinion leaders as constructors of perceptions and public reputation is similar to stakeholders. However, the schools usually forget to use media for their own benefit to inform the wider public on their needs and achievements. Furthermore, the citizens as taxpayers, within their right to information, and interest in the outcomes of school education, should also be considered as stakeholders.

Nevertheless, in a school leadership context where school autonomy is an axiom, school leaders have to involve the above listed groups into leadership activities in different fields, depth and forms. These may require family/school cooperation (meaning students and parents, and sometimes even grandparents or other individuals undertaking guardian responsibilities), local community/school cooperation, teachers-staff-administration/school cooperation, city council and government/school cooperation and so on. Considering all these fields of cooperation, the school leaders are faced with different kinds of challenges. Some of them could be addressed by changing the school culture, some by training and some by making special arrangements.

Among all the above fields of potential cooperation, the cooperation between families, teaching staff and students is often the most critical. During the last decades changes in the families' structure and in social relationships, as well as the massive expansion of schooling in response to the demand for increased opportunities for individual fulfilment and quality of life, have increased the intervention capacity of citizens in the public arena of school education. More specifically, families have increased influence on the school life, in what concerns the school management and the services provided by schools. As a consequence, some tension was introduced either by schools questioning the families' capacity to intervene in the schooling processes, or by families questioning the quality of the education services. From this perspective, this field of cooperation can be proved problematic in certain school contexts, though as Camacho (2013) indicates, research contributions have highlighted the importance of a concerted school/ family interaction to improve the education services and to foster learning.

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© 2014 EPNoSL Project