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School-community Partnerships

Nora Patricia HERNÁNDEZ LÓPEZ, Jeremy Tzi Dong NG, Si Man LAM, Monaliza Maximo CHIAN


From their inception, schools have been organised for preparing the younger generations for meaningful participation in society, not only by educating the youth but by fostering social interactions and continuous learning. To this end, teachers, school leaders, and various stakeholders in the broader society must work in concert to nurture children and youth’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. In this sense, school-community partnerships refer to “the connections between schools and community individuals, organisations, and businesses that are forged to promote students' social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development” (Sanders, 2001, p.20).

Meaningful partnerships between schools and different stakeholders are aimed to improve students’ performance and attend to additional needs of not only students, but also their families, communities, and even neighbourhoods (Wheeler et al. 2018). Synergy resulting from the collaboration between schools, families, and different institutions holds great potential in enhancing students’ welfare and performance, directly benefiting attendance, homework completion, cooperation, achievement, graduation rates, and educational aspirations (Blank et al., 2003). As a result of the multifaceted nature of school-community partnerships, there is a wide variety of collaborations involving parents (Harris & Goodall, 2008), families (Willemse et al., 2018), mentors (Mtika & Payne, 2014), government institutions (Wheeler et al., 2018), universities (Hamilton et al., 2021), and the private sector (Mohamed Anuar & Chankseliani, 2023), among others, for enhancing students’ performance beyond the limits of traditional classroom settings as exemplified by the available resources included here.

Success in these partnerships requires not only the active participation of dedicated parents and school leaders, but the implementation of school reform strategies that emphasise community development (Green, 2017). To this end, leader involvement is key for effective resource allocation, i.e., time, funding, staff, and cultivating a healthy environment for collaboration (Valli et al., 2016). Similarly, funding alone should not be taken as a one-sided solution to such partnerships. In fact, the success in promoting social transformation and student well-being, especially in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, results from cohesive efforts where leaders, teachers, curriculum, and policy align with the sociocultural context (Cano-Hila & Sánchez-Martí, 2022). Finally, besides economic, human, and material support, successful partnerships also require an action plan and evaluation framework that serve to continue productive partnerships (Epstein & Sheldon, 2019).

To illuminate opportunities, considerations, and challenges that arise from school-community partnerships, some relevant resources below provide a diverse range of insights, perspectives, and information from research and practice.


Blank, M. J., Melaville, A., & Shah, B. P. (2003). Making the difference: Research and practice in community schools. Coalition for Community Schools.

Cano-Hila, A. B., & Sánchez-Martí, A. (2022). Saved by the school community strategy: School-community alliances for promoting school success in disadvantaged neighborhoods during times of austerity. Urban Education, 0(0).

Epstein, J. L., & Sheldon, S. B. (2019). The importance of evaluating programs of school, family and community partnerships. Aula abierta, 48(1), 31–42.

Green, T. L. (2017). From positivism to critical theory: School-community relations toward community equity literacy. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 30(4), 370–387.

Hamilton, M., O’ Dwyer, A., Leavy, A., Hourigan, M., Carroll, C., & Corry, E. (2021). A case study exploring primary teachers’ experiences of a STEM education school-university partnership. Teachers and Teaching, 27(1–4), 17–31.

Harris, A., & Goodall, J. (2008). Do parents know they matter? Engaging all parents in learning. Educational Research, 50(3), 277–289.

Mohamed Anuar, A., & Chankseliani, M. (2023). The role of non-state providers in informal science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education: A Malaysian perspective. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 43(1), 189–202.

Mtika, P., & Payne, F. (2014). Student-adult mentoring relationships: Experiences from a Scottish school-based programme. Educational Research, 56(4), 436–452.

Sanders, M. G. (2001). The role of “community” in comprehensive school, family, and community partnership programs. The Elementary School Journal, 102(1), 19–34.

Valli, L., Stefanski, A., & Jacobson, R. (2016). Typologizing School–Community Partnerships: A Framework for Analysis and Action. Urban Education, 51(7), 719–747.

Wheeler, L., Guevara, J. R., & Smith, J.-A. (2018). School-community learning partnerships for sustainability: Recommended best practice and reality. International Review of Education, 64, 313–337.

Willemse, T. M., Thompson, I., Vanderlinde, R., & Mutton, T. (2018). Family-school partnerships: A challenge for teacher education. Journal of Education for Teaching, 44(3), 252–257.

Schools as Sustainable Organisations

Highly-Cited Academic Articles

Epstein, J. L. (2018). School, family, and community partnerships in teachers’ professional work. Journal of Education for Teaching, 44(3), 397–406.

Goldberg, J. M., Sklad, M., Elfrink, T. R., Schreurs, K. M. G., Bohlmeijer, E. T., & Clarke, A. M. (2019). Effectiveness of interventions adopting a whole school approach to enhancing social and emotional development: A meta-analysis. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 34(4), 755–782.

Green, T. L. (2018). School as community, community as school: Examining principal leadership for urban school reform and community development. Education and Urban Society, 50(2), 111–135.

Hornby, G., & Blackwell, I. (2018). Barriers to parental involvement in education: An update. Educational Review, 70(1), 109–119.

Ishimaru, A. M. (2019). From family engagement to equitable collaboration. Educational Policy, 33(2), 350–385.


Publications in/about the Region

Deng, L., Zhou, N., Nie, R., Jin, P., Yang, M., & Fang, X. (2018). Parent-teacher partnership and high school students’ development in mainland China: The mediating role of teacher-student relationship. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 38(1), 15–31.

Lau, E. Y. H., & Ng, M. L. (2019). Are they ready for home-school partnership? Perspectives of kindergarten principals, teachers and parents. Children and Youth Services Review, 99, 10–17.

Mohamed Anuar, A., & Chankseliani, M. (2023). The role of non-state providers in informal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education: A Malaysian perspective. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 43(1), 189–202.

Paek, K. M. (2020). Opportunities and challenges in collaborative reform practice: School–community partnerships through art in Korean schools. International Journal of Art & Design Education, 39(3), 509–522.

Shah, P. P. (2016). Partnerships and appropriation: Translating discourses of access and empowerment in girls’ education in India. International Journal of Educational Development, 49, 11–21.


School Examples and Resources

Education Bureau. (n.d.). Community-based projects.

Heung, S. (2022, November 2). Nursing students to help 10,000 elderly Hongkongers in ex-health chief’s project. South China Morning Post.


HKU Scholarship and Resources

He, P., & Lin, A. M. Y. (2013). Tensions in school–university partnership and EFL pre-service teacher identity formation: A case in mainland China. The Language Learning Journal, 41(2), 205–218.


Ling, H. W. H. (2018). Volunteering and participation in community service among secondary school students in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Journal of Social Work, 52(01n02), 87–98.

Start from the Beginning - Chinese Supporting Scheme for Non-Chinese Speaking Students in Kindergarten.

Tse, S. K., Pang, E. Y.-W., Chow, K.-W., Ki, W.-W., & Lam, W. I. (2021). What empowers ethnic minority parents to change towards supporting their children’s learning of Chinese in a Hong Kong home-school-community project? Open Journal of Social Sciences, 9(5), 149167.


Internet Resources


National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments. (2023). Family-school-community partnerships.

YouTube Videos

TEDx Talks. (2017, September 13). The power of meaningful school partnerships | Casey Bethel | TEDxDouglasville.

TEDx Talks. (2022, September 9). Finding hope through school-community partnership | Heather Simonich | TEDxFargo.

Blog Posts

Elizabeth M. Ross. (2023, March 21). The case for strong family and community engagement in schools. Usable Knowledge - Harvard Graduate School of Education.

New Leaders. (2022, August 23). School-community engagement: 5 steps to creating impactful partnerships.


Extended Readings

Cleveland, B., Backhouse, S., Chandler, P., McShane, I., Clinton, J. M., & Newton, C. (Eds.). (2023). Schools as community hubs: Building ‘more than a school’ for community benefit. Springer Singapore.

Epstein, J. L. (1995). School/family/community partnerships. Phi Delta Kappan, 76(9), 701.

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