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Current concepts of community schooling in Australia: An analysis

Bambach, John David (1979) Current concepts of community schooling in Australia: An analysis. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The 1970's in Australia have provided a social and economic climate conducive to educational experimentation, and one result has been the emergence of a variety of "community schools”. There has, however, been little systematic research into the nature of this movement and the extent of the common ground between the various experiments associated with it.

The present study attempts to make good the deficiency in conceptualising what is going on, and to develop a method of appraisal by which schools purporting to exemplify a community school ethos may be studied. To the extent that the study is built on a substantial semi-formal survey of Australian community schools conducted in 1975-78 by correspondence, visits and interviews, it is empirically based. The author also had access to data collected by the Burwood State College in a Schools Commission project, some of which he himself contributed. But this data has been used to suggest conceptual distinctions rather than to prove factual claims by statistical analysis. The latter task awaits follow-up investigation.

Chapter 1 defines the scope and limits of the study, and provides stipulations for some of the key terms employed, such as "school" and "community". Chapter 2 then reports in detail the major features observed during the data collection phase. Some, like approaches to administration and teaching style, were highly fluid and hard to generalise about. Others, like the question of what agencies initiated and were sponsoring the school, or which community the school was serving, facilitated theoretical analysis.

Chapter 3 turns to more formal analysis of the community school concept, and seven characteristics emerge. They are: promotion within the school of an awareness of the worth of each of its members and of their inter-dependence; fostering of a close educational partnership with the home; employment of decision-making procedures which encourage the active participation of students, teachers, school administrators, parents and other interested people in the making of decisions concerning the roles. life and operation of the school; offering of the resources under its control for regular and extensive use by other local citizens for educational, recreational and cultural purposes, as part of its role as a major community centre; substantive use by the school, in its educational programme, of resources beyond its perimeter in order to help students to structure their experiences in the wider community; focussing in the curriculum on the life of the local neighbourhood area (and of related areas); and provision of community service projects, as part of its programme, and, in co-operation with appropriate community agencies, provision of a wide range of other services to local citizens.

Chapter 4 develops a four-fold typology of schools, by identifying examples in which a number of the characteristics tend to cluster together. The types of schools are: the State-sponsored ’community centre’ school; the teacher-initiated 'mini community' school; the parent or parent-teacher initiated ’mini community' school; and the local community or particular community group 'special needs' school. The chapter also develops a method of appraisal which is then applied to four representative schools - Huntingdale Technical School (Victoria), School Without Walls (Australian Capital Territory), The Blue Mountains Community School (New South Wales), and Yanchep Community School (Western Australia).

It is considered that the results of developing and applying this method are illuminating, advance our understanding of current concepts of community schooling in Australia, and point the way to several kinds of further research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Hill, Brian
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