Building educational partnerships: An illustration of the disparities between policy and practice of the Home, School and Community Liaison Programme through an exploration of the challenges that HSCL Coordinators experience in its implementation
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Poverty inhibits pupils from reaching their full educational potential. A body of literature exists which suggests that pupils experiencing financial deprivation or who have parents with lower levels of education are more likely to leave school early. Education policy designed to alleviate the effects of marginalisation targets early school leaving and attempts to improve attendance levels. This research however, suggests that integrated policies such as the Home, School and Community Liaison Programme are more effective than in-school compensatory interventions. The HSCL draws together the home, local community partners and State agencies in order to tackle inequality at its core. This thesis examines the ways in which HSCL coordinators implement various components of the scheme and how they view the roles of the home, parents and the community within HSCL. The findings are used to examine the disparities between policy and practice. The final section of the study seeks to evaluate the coordinators’ perceptions of the overall success of the HSCL. Semi-structured interviews with HSCL coordinators were conducted to provide an often missing voice in this discourse. The subsequent findings are thematically analysed. Underpinned by a constructionist theoretical paradigm this research allows the realities of teaching to be illustrated whilst enabling an opportunity to apply a pragmatic approach towards the development of knowledge. The research concludes that the role of families’ involvement in children’s education is important. HSCL coordinators stress that encouraging parental involvement is difficult and the level of persuasion required, proves to be frustrating. They also rely heavily upon the local community partners for support, as many HSCL coordinators have little access to funding. Less productive relationships with State agencies are reported due to a perceived lack of joined up thinking. Finally, this research suggests that due to the absence of clear policy direction in terms of educational achievement, many coordinators have difficulty in benchmarking the success of both the scheme and the pupils.