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NLCs & community engagement. Alan Dyson & Charlotte Dean School of Education, University of Manchester [email protected] Background. NLCs have initially focused on internal communities Potential & need to consider external communities

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nlcs community engagement

NLCs & community engagement

Alan Dyson & Charlotte Dean

School of Education, University of Manchester

[email protected]

  • NLCs have initially focused on internal communities
  • Potential & need to consider external communities
  • Notions of ‘community’ & schools’ roles in relation to community are problematic
  • Study of two contrasting NLCs to surface conceptualisations & possibilities
nlc 1
  • Metropolitan – city district – high deprivation
  • 17 schools, nursery to secondary
  • Primary focus on ICT
  • Embedded in an EAZ and a regeneration area – and wider LEA
  • Much community-oriented work
  • Less consultation of involvement
nlc 2
  • Commuter town – moderate deprivation – self-contained
  • 15 schools initially – all schools in the town – moving to federation
  • Limited initiatives and sources of funding but SRB important
  • Borough council has no education function but involved in NLC
  • Town-school issues seen as intertwined
  • ‘Genuine’ community involvement
the dimensions 1
The dimensions 1

Autonomy and collaboration

  • Schools collaborate without compromising their autonomy.
  • Schools work together within some more-or-less formal structure which impacts on their individual autonomy

Action and learning

  • There is joint action but little deeper engagement which allows schools and/or their partners to learn from each other
  • There are opportunities for schools to learn from their partners, whether these be in other schools or other agencies or in communities

Focus of action

  • School concerns dominate the issues that are addressed. Community issues figure mainly as they impact on schools.
  • Wider community concerns figure prominently in the issues that are addressed


  • Decisions are made by schools
  • Decisions are made jointly with community agencies, organisations and members.
the dimensions 2
The dimensions 2

Scope of action

  • Issues are limited in focus. If more than one issue is addressed they are likely to be dealt with sequentially or as a loose bundle of concerns.
  • There is a strategic focus. Issues are dealt with as part of a coherent agenda.

Definition of needs

  • The needs of communities are defined by schools.
  • Schools engage with definitions of community needs other than their own

Relationships with communities

  • When schools develop relationships with community members, they do so primarily with those whose concerns relate most closely to their own, particularly parents/carers.
  • Schools develop relationships with a wide range of community members, organisations and stakeholders
four ideal types of community oriented nlcs

Loose collaboration

School focus

Community focus

Formal organisation

Four ideal types of community-oriented NLCs
some reflections
Some reflections
  • Traditional school community links have disappeared – via LEAs & catchment areas
  • ‘Corner shop’ schooling seems inadequate
  • Alternatives remain ill-defined
  • Questions are urgent as last vestiges of LEA control disappear