School-Community Learning Partnerships for Sustainability

The School-Community Learning Partnerships for Sustainability (SCLPfS) Project explored the ways in which schools and communities can work together to achieve sustainability outcomes.

This was a 3 year project from 2009 – 2011.

The project was funded by the Australian Research Council and conducted in partnership with RMIT University, Sustainability Victoria, Foundation for Young Australians, CERES, South East Councils Climate Change Alliance (SECCCA), Independent Schools Victoria and Yarra Ranges Shire Council.

Download the Conversations on School Community Learning Partnerships for Sustainability guidebook (PDF 21.3MB).

About the project

Project history

The School-Community Learning Partnerships for Sustainability (SCLPfS) Project evolved out of work conducted by Dr. Jose Roberto (Robbie) Guevara of RMIT University in conjunction with the South East Councils Climate Change Alliance (formerly the Western Port Greenhouse Alliance), Education Foundation and Sustainability Victoria. This earlier project resulted in the production of the Resource Smart Schools report detailing five stories of schools involved in successful SCLPfS.

The findings were used to write a successful Australian Research Council (ARC) funding application to extend the project to 18 case study sites, analyse the findings and produce a manual for other Schools and Communities to use in developing effective SCLPfS. The ARC funded project was conducted in partnership with RMIT University, Sustainability Victoria, Foundation for Young Australians, CERES, South East Councils Climate Change Alliance (SECCCA), Independent Schools Victoria and Yarra Ranges Council.

Research objectives

The ARC funded project operated from 2009-2011. The research objectives of the project were:

  • to analyse patterns of approaches and outcomes of the range of existing School-Community Learning Partnerships for Sustainability;
  • to identify the factors that are facilitating and limiting the enhancement of educational as well as social and natural capital outcomes of different approaches to School-Community Learning Partnerships;
  • to identify principles for the establishment and management of effective learning partnerships;
  • to identify the capabilities required of the different stakeholders in building effective School-Community Learning Partnerships for Sustainability and the associated learning processes that can assist in developing these capabilities; and
  • to identify the factors that influence the adoption of the lessons learned about effective School-Community Learning Partnerships for Sustainability.

Research phases

The project involved five phases of research:

Phase A. Learning within Schools

Collections of stories of the most significant social and environmental changes that have resulted from community partnerships will be gathered from the school perspective, such as from students and school staff. When identifiers are appropriately removed, the stories will be made available as online journal entries.

Phase B. Learning within Communities

Stories of the most significant social and environmental changes will be collected from community perspective, e.g. from parents, NGOs, local government officers, social and environmental agencies, youth groups, religious groups, etc. When identifiers are appropriately removed, the stories will be made available as online journal entries.

Phase C. Learning through School-Community Engagement and Interaction

Learning occurs when new knowledge is generated based on the process and outcomes of ongoing dialogue and discussions between the school and community. Through the facilitated sharing of best practices, lessons learning and reflective experiences, schools and community members will discover new ideas, alternative practices, innovative approaches and / or improved strategies. These learnings will be presented as case studies of value in their own right as well as for later meta-analysis.

Experiences from this type of interactive learning will be shared within and between cases through online journals and discussions utilizing wiki-based platforms, with such entries also being utilized as contextual material for data interpretation. The Most Significant Change (MSC) stories and case studies will also be analysed by the Researchers using NVivo software in a parallel process designed to identify the emerging themes, related to the project objectives, to be used as starting points in Phase D.

Phase D. Learning through Networking

Representatives of School-Community partnership projects will form a 'learning network' to share the results of their case studies in workshops. Facilitated by the Researchers, and using a common conceptual framework, these workshops will seek relationships between the cases and emerging themes to develop a model or framework of principles for effective School -Community Learning Partnerships for Sustainability.

Phase E. Learning through Capacity-Building

The researchers will develop a capacity building guide or facilitators' manual based upon the results of the research to date. This will be used to disseminate the findings to other communities and to build the individual, institutional and community capacities required to develop and maintain effective community partnerships for sustainability. The results of these processes will be monitored through the MSC and case study process. In addition, the Researchers will maintain a close relationship with the communities from Phase A-D to monitor changes in the operation and effectiveness of the existing partnerships and the outcomes from them.

Case study sites

25 case study sites participated in the project across Victoria and Queensland. The case study sites involved early child care facilities, primary, secondary and combined schools and covered all three school sectors of government, independent and Catholic schools.

Victoria

  • Altona North and Altona Meadows Children’s Centres
  • Balnarring Primary School
  • Doveton North Primary School
  • Emerald Primary School
  • Hawkesdale P12 College
  • Mill Park Secondary College
  • Montrose Primary School
  • Port Fairy Consolidated School
  • St Francis of the Fields Primary School
  • St Jude’s Primary School
  • St Monica’s College
  • Strathfieldsaye Primary School
  • The Patch Primary School
  • Tooradin Primary School
  • Western Port Secondary College
  • Woodleigh School

Queensland

  • Belgian Gardens State School
  • Gordonvale State School
  • Hermit Park State School
  • Mountain Creek State School
  • Nambour State High School

Resources

Wheeler L, Guevara JR, & Smith JA, 2011, School-Community Learning Partnerships for Sustainability (PDF), 6th World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC), Brisbane 22 July 2011.

See information on other related literature.

Contact

For further information on any aspect of this project please contact:

This project was managed by the Northern Partnerships Unit, School of Education.

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nations on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

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