Preparing 21st century learners: the case for school-community collaborations

22 March 2012

Highly effective schools have high levels of parent and community engagement. "Community" here includes parents, business and philanthropic organisations, and various services and not-for-profit groups. How "engagement" is defined and what it looks like in practice will vary from school to school. But, as the growing body of research makes quite clear, support from those beyond the school gates is an essential part of preparing learners for the twenty-first century. 

Schools are expected to prepare students for a complex and rapidly changing world. In addition to teaching subject content, schools are expected to develop young people who are information and media literate; critical thinkers and problem solvers; communicators and team players. They are expected to teach environmental awareness and civic responsibility and various other transferable and lifelong skills. Schools are seen to have an important role in enhancing wellbeing so that students can realise their full potential, cope with the stresses of life and participate fully in their community. Increasingly schools are expected to educate young people to behave responsibly in relation to drugs and alcohol, cyber safety, road safety and their sexual health. Schools cannot be expected to do this alone.

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Michelle Anderson, 2012, Preparing 21st century learners: the case for school-community collaborations, Australian Council for Educational Research, viewed 31 March 2015, <>.

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