Community schools appeared in Britain and the U.S. in the 1970s. The expression was used in a 1982 Quebec government white paper to designate a hub where the community and the school work together for their mutual benefit. Though several models exist, they all feature this type of synergy between a school and its community. School communities involve multiple partnerships and focus their services on student learning and community health. They are distinguished by two tendencies: the partners support the school’s mission, and the school contributes to the community’s development. Community schools are therefore relatively unified hubs, depending on their partners’ needs and intentions: (1) shared schools welcome partners and services that are not tied to the school’s mission; (2) schools open to the community welcome partners whose activities are tied to the school’s mission; (3) schools rooted in the community respond to the needs of young people, and to the development of the community. Community schools can contribute to the revitalization of linguistic minority or declining communities. The following three factors are involved in developing successful community school models.
1. Plan the development.
Planning is the cornerstone of any development, even though strategic agility is starting to take the place of strategic planning: it is necessary to adapt proactively to any constraints and opportunities in the organization’s environments. A resource kit used for holistically planning action for educational and community change, based on a grounded theory, can help implement a school-community collaboration in five stages: explore, initiate, plan, implement and evaluate.
2. Provide inspiring school leadership.
There are numerous types of leadership, but research has shown that transformational leadership is more relevant than transactional leadership. In this regard, motion leadership, another theory grounded in facts and observed practices, has been successful in schools and uses mobilized stakeholders and actions that are more effective and easier to understand.
3. Have all partners rally around an educational philosophy.
Community schools offer a spirit that inspires schools in their ways of being, thinking and acting. In addition to having an education program, each school, along with its partners, rallies around an educational philosophy. For example, the International organization of conscious entrepreneurial community schools (OIECEC) proposes an inclusive, responsible and humanist path, which operates in synergy with the community, while the UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network endorses the principles of sustainable development, intercultural learning and democracy. Community schools are also hubs of shared values.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION RESOURCES
- How to Start a Community School (Coalition for Community Schools)
- International organization of conscious entrepreneurial community schools (OIECEC, 2017)
- UNESCO Associated Schools in Quebec (UNESCO, 2017)
- Resource Kit – The Community Learning Centre. Guidebook for Implementing a Collaborative School-Community Partnership – Holistically planned action for educational and community change (MELS, 2012)
Bédard, J. et al. (2009). Étude des représentations et des indices d’opérationnalisation de l’école communautaire au regard des approches et programmes visant la collaboration école-famille-communauté mis en œuvre au Québec. Sherbrooke: Université de Sherbrooke.
Children’s Aid Society (2011). Building Community Schools: A Guide for Action, National Center for Community Schools. New York: National Center for Community Schools. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/4473432/Building%20Community%20Schools.pdf
Commission scolaire de Montréal (2008). La vision de l’école communautaire de la Commission scolaire de Montréal. Cadre de référence. Une réflexion en évolution. Montreal: Commission scolaire de Montréal.
Deslandes, R. (2007). “L’école communautaire et la place des parents,” Diversité, No. 150, Autumn.
Epstein, J. et al. (2009). School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook for Action, Third Edition, Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec (2004). L’école communautaire selon le modèle américain. Quebec City: FCSQ.
Fullan, M. (2015). Le leadership moteur. Comprendre les rouages du changement en éducation. Quebec City: Presses de l’Université du Québec.
Gouvernement du Québec (2005). L’école communautaire. Un carrefour pour la réussite des jeunes et le développement de la communauté. Rapport du Groupe de travail sur le développement de l’école communautaire. Quebec City: Gouvernement du Québec. http://fcsq.qc.ca/fileadmin/medias/PDF/446909.pdf
MELS (2006). Schools in Partnership With Their Community. Quebec City: Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport.
MEQ (1982). Une école communautaire et responsable. Quebec City: Ministère de l’Éducation. https://www.bibliotheque.assnat.qc.ca/DepotNumerique_v2/AffichageNotice.aspx?idn=75611