Partnership Schools Ireland was one of three organisations which earned 2018 Partnership Organisation Awards from the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) at Johns Hopkins University.
At each policy level, the award-winning programmes have strong leadership, sustainable structures, and goal-linked practices that enable all families to feel welcome at their children’s schools. Each program conducts activities that engage families in ways that contribute to student achievement and other indicators of success in school.
Organisations in NNPS strengthen eight essential elements for leadership on partnerships: leadership, teamwork, written plans, implementation, funding, support from colleagues, evaluation, and networking.
Row 1 (L to R): Deirdre Sullivan (Project Coordinator, Partnership Schools Ireland; NNPS Key Contact), Anna Mai Rooney (Deputy Director, Centre for School Leadership), Liam McPherson (Project Coordinator, Partnership Schools Ireland; NNPS Key Contact), Aine Lynch (Chief Executive Officer, National Parents Council Primary) Brendan McCabe (Advisory Board Member, Irish Primary Principal Network)
Row 2 (L to R): Pairic Clerkin (Chief Executive Officer, Irish Principal Primary Network), Liz O’ Sullivan (Services Manager, National Parents Council Primary)
Leadership of Partnership Schools Ireland
Partnership Schools Ireland (PSI) is a collaboration of the national organization for primary school parents, school leaders, the Department of Education and Skills, and others. This ensures that all partners understand the importance of research-based approaches to effective programs of family and community engagement for student success. The initiative was co-funded for the first three years to support the appointment of a coordinator, training for schools, and other program costs. Presentations to publicize PSI and schools’ Action Teams for Partnerships (ATPs) were given by different members of the National Leadership Partnership team throughout the year. They described the project to the Irish Primary Principal’s Network National Conference, The National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education Conference, and the National Parent’s Primary Annual Conference.
By organizing PSI as a leadership partnership, the National Parents Council Primary was able to emphasize the importance of ATPs in primary schools across Ireland. Through positive partnership relationships, more opportunities for promoting partnership at local and national levels were initiated and advanced. The support and scaling up of PSI were not anticipated at the outset, but reinforce an understanding of the shared responsibilities of home, school, and community for student success in school.
School Partnership Programmes - Children's Participation
At Partnership Schools Ireland (PSI) one thing was very clear: We needed the voices of students on schools’ Action Teams for Partnerships (ATPs)—even at the primary school level. Public policy in Ireland recognizes that students have the biggest stake in their education. Therefore, they must have a say in what is planned and implemented to increase their success in school.
An advisory group and PSI-ATP Coordinator worked together to adapt NNPS team training materials to include children on the ATP from the outset. The Coordinator recruited schools to the PSI network and prepared workshop leaders to conduct the ATP training, including students. This helped schools to plan family and community engagement activities that are feasible and acceptable to students for improving behavior on the playground or for improving interpersonal relationships among students at break time. The children often suggest simple and effective solutions to problems in schools that adults have not considered.
The NPC National Conference in 2018 focused on hearing the voice of the child. At the conference, children and teachers from a PSI Partnership School presented their experiences as an active ATP. They highlighted the important lens through which students see educational services that affect them. ATPs have learned to review agenda items in a student-friendly manner to encourage students’ participation and inclusion in the ATP training and ATP meetings.
This activity is featured in Promising Partnership Practices