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Community Focused Schools play a prominent role in tackling the impact of poverty and socio-economic disadvantage on educational attainment. High quality learning and teaching has a major impact on the outcomes of socio-economically disadvantaged learners, but the home environment and the wider community are also significant influences. By working collaboratively across school, home and the community we can support our children and young people more effectively.
Research shows that a well-developed community school approach can improve attendance, behaviour, attainment and aspirations of children and young people (Rand, 2020,Illustrating the Promise of Community Schools). This approach can also impact positively on the lives of family and community members helping to develop communities that are thriving, empowered and connected.
The ‘Community Focused Schools’ guidance provides the vision and rationale for developing community focused schools in Wales and draws together announcements made by the Minister for Education and Welsh Language in his Oral Statement on 22 March 2022 and key note speech at the Bevan Foundation on 16 June 2022.
We want all schools in Wales to be Community Focused Schools – building strong partnerships with families, engaging with the wider community and collaborating effectively with other services.
Our model for Community Focused Schools
There are 3 key elements to a Community Focused School.
- Family engagement. Creating meaningful opportunities for families and carers to be involved in school life and decision making and to be engaged in children’s learning.
- Community engagement. Encouraging schools to draw upon and utilise links with community groups and organisations and also offer support and opportunities to community members.
- Multi-agency engagement. Developing partnerships with wider services and interventions to remove any barriers to learning. A Community Focused School makes links with these services and supports the child and family to access the right support at the right time.
This model reflects a whole-system approach. Working from early years to post-16 is crucial to the success of our children and young people. What is best for our children and young people remains at the heart of this model.
The 3 key elements of family, community and multi-agency engagement are interconnected. Each element does not work in isolation but has an influence and impact on the others, combining to become a self-perpetuating model.
There are 4 key enablers which support the progression between family, community and multi agency enagement:
- collective vision
- collaborative leadership
- trusting relationships
- connected learning
Community Focused Schools value and reflect the diversity of children, young people, families and communities in Wales. They form trusting relationships with families and community members and work collaboratively with them to develop provision that reflects their context. A Community Focused School environment is fully inclusive, where all people feel welcomed, respected, supported and valued.
Adopting all aspects of the community focused school model will ensure the greatest impact on children and young people’s attainment, behaviour, attendance and aspirations and ensure equity and high standards for all.