"Schools don't collaborate" is the message of a large-scale survey of Scottish schools, writes Karen Thornton. The finding has implications for New Labour's social inclusion agenda, which envisages schools working in partnership with external agencies and organisations to help tackle social exclusion.
Researchers from Edinburgh and Birmingham universities asked all Scottish primary and secondary schools about their school-community links.
They questioned them about school lettings and after-school clubs, their collaboration with external partners over extra-
curricular activities, and the involvement of parent or community groups in decision-making. There was a 64 per cent response rate.
Just over 30 per cent provided youth groups, but fewer than one in five made any provision for adult use of schools, such as parent education or daytime adult classes. Less than 40 per cent involved parents in their decision making, and less than 20 per cent consulted pupils.
What little collaboration there was tended to centre on the formal curriculum and involve other schools (27 per cent). Only 4 per cent collaborated with further education colleges, and only 17 per cent with parents' groups.
"Hardly any of the schools collaborated with anyone else on anything," said Lyn Tett, outlining the researchers' findings at last week's British Educational Research Association conference. Not all schools even let out accommodation.
"In a number of cases, schools over-reported what was going on. They might say parents were involved in development planning - but that might be a meeting at which a plan was presented," she said.
"Understanding collaborative practice in schools: prospects for social inclusion", by Lyn Tett, Pamela Munn, Stewart Ranson, Amy Blair, Helen Kay, Ian Martin and Jane Martin