15 SES 10, The Notion of Partnership: Case Study III
Parallel Paper Session
Research partnerships between schools and universities have been well documented in the literature. Miller (2001) described such collaborations as ‘a precarious organisation’ and others have highlighted the potentially problematic nature of combining two quite different cultures (Cochrane-Smith and Lytle, 2004). However, the literature also documents collaborations and partnerships that have managed to overcome these obstacles to at least some extent and found ways for both parties to learn from one another and create new learning together. McLaughlin and Black-Hawkins (2004) suggested a number of key conditions (time as a resource for research; relationships, roles and their development; and ownership and accountability) for useful school-university partnerships, whilst Baumfield and Butterworth (2007) suggest that ‘the project as a space- and time-limited context inclusive of partner institutions may have the scope to reconcile the tension between an impetus for exclusive bonding and the flexibility of bridging across structures in social networks’. It would seem that the possibilities for real collaborations and partnerships are more likely when a new space is created together, drawing on ideas from Bhabha (1994) and Soja (1996) of ‘third space’. Nevertheless, the data on which these conclusions are made are almost exclusively long-term and reasonably well funded partnerships between schools and universities. In the current economic climate funding for such partnerships is undoubtedly difficult to find but what does remain is much smaller scale and fragmented opportunities, often involving multiple parties.
This paper will reflect on a collaborative enquiry network funded by Links into Languages, a national programme in England intended to ‘build on and extend the existing learning community of language teachers, educators and all those working in the world of languages across primary, secondary and further education institutions’ (http://www.linksintolanguages.ac.uk/). As government funding came to an end for Links into Languages, they decided to commission a four month project between December 2010 and March 2011 with the aim of building regional capacity in the North East of England for a sustainable model of professional learning. The network included 8 schools and an adult education centre (all in the region), three private educational consultants working in the role of network facilitators, and a private educational consultant and university researcher in the roles of project leads. Whilst it is common practice for private consultants to work with schools, the precise natures of these partnerships are less well documented, as are their collaborations with universities. This paper will explore the multiple relationships and collaborations that take place in this new ‘third space’, drawing upon a practice-based organisational learning theory called ‘knotworking’ (Fenwick, 2007) and notions of ‘agency’ as theorised by Biesta & Tedder (2007). It will seek to ask how these varying participants use the space and resources that are created and manage the boundaries that exist between their own worlds, those of others and the collective space they form together.
Baumfield, V. & Butterworth, M. (2007) Creating and translating knowledge about teaching and learning in collaborative school-university research partnerships: an analysis of what is exchanged across the partnerships, by whom and how, Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 13 (4): 411-427. Bhabha, H. K. (1994). The location of culture. New York: Routledge. Biesta, G.J.J. & Tedder, M. (2007). Agency and learning in the lifecourse: Towards an ecological perspective, Studies in the Education of Adults, 39: 132-149. Cochran-Smith, M. & Lytle, S. L. (2004) Practitioner inquiry, knowledge and university culture, in: J. J. Loughran, M. L. Hamilton, V. K. LaBoskey & T. L. Russell (Eds) International handbook of self-study of teaching and teacher education practices. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 601-649. Fenwick, T. (2007) Organisational learning in the “knots”: discursive capacities emerging in a school-university collaboration, Journal of Educational Administration, 45 (2): 138-153. McLaughlin, C. & Black-Hawkins, K. (2004) A schools-university research partnership: understandings, models and complexities, Journal of In-service Education, 30 (2): 265-284. Miles, M. and Huberman, M. (1994) Qualitative Data Analysis. London: Sage. Miller, L. (2001) School-university partnership as a venue for professional development, in: A. Lieberman & L. Miller (Eds) Teachers caught in the action. New York: Teachers College Press, 102-117. Soja, E. (1996). Thirdspace. Malden: Blackwell.
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