ECER 2014 in Porto (Portugal) was a well-organised conference and a rewarding experience for the members of our research network. The network programme consisted of some 50 presentations in paper sessions and well-attended symposiums. Evaluations showed that the overall quality of the sessions was high.
The presentations and research papers covered the major topics of our research network:
- urban education & children, youth and schools at risk;
- preventing dropout and improving results for children and youth;
- interprofessional collaboration and partnerships in education;
- effective educational and youth policy.
Moreover, the sessions included subthemes such as:
- multi-service schools and partnerships with health and human services;
- (improving) engagement with schooling and school well-being;
- student and teacher support services in urban schools;
- preventing bullying and violence prevention in schools and alternative programmes;
- improving educational pathways and (school to work) transitions for children and youth at risk.
Compared with the 2012 and 2013 Network 5 programme, more presentations were focussing on the support structures for teaching and learning in schools for at risk children and youth, and on alternative programmes to combat exclusion. Fewer presentations are dealing with policy strategies of cities and countries, the focus is more on school strategies and programmes.
For our network the theme of ECER in Porto (The past, present and future of educational research in Europe) was an important one. In line with earlier observations we can conclude that, in Europe, the notion that collaboration among educators and other practitioners, clients, community leaders and policy-makers is crucial to transforming the educational, (mental) health and social service systems that serve children and families is increasingly recognised among the stakeholders. This belief creates a momentum in which further experimentation with inter-agency collaboration, school-based or school-linked comprehensive services, behaviour and learning support teams, and alternative programmes for youngsters with severe behaviour problems is stimulated and supported.
Research is beginning to accumulate on programme characteristics, viability and effectiveness, and implementation, managerial and administrative issues. Fortunately, planning frameworks for coordinating, harmonising, and synchronising the internal, school-owned supports and services and community-owned services are increasingly available. This work entails institutional change involving schools, health and human services agencies, and their boundary relations. The assumption is that school improvement and renewal processes are destined to fall short of their intended aims until such time as the family and community contexts for children’s learning and healthy development are addressed simultaneously.
Against this background we have decided in Istanbul and Porto to (continue to) work on a book focusing on community schools, multi-service, extended service, full-service schools, and community learning centers. All represent a special organizational configuration for schools. For some leaders, these new configurations, in fact, provide new institutional designs for schools and other child and family serving professions and organizations. Working title is: Developing Extended and Multi-service Schools:International Exemplars for Practice, Policy, and Research. Hal Lawson & Dolf van Veen will be the editors and members of the network contribute to the book. In Budapest we will host a special session on the outcomes of the book.
Furthermore, we will continue our working relationships with research networks 14 and 15. After Budapest we would like to intensify our collaboration with network 4 and 26 through planning joint sessions at the annual conference.
Finally, we would like to focus in the network a bit more on research around alternative programmes for at risk youngsters in primary and secondary education and on expanding support services for teaching and learning within regular school systems in order to develop more inclusive school systems. This could also be a special topic for the Budapest conference.