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Conceptualising engagement in a Co-operative school setting:“doing with” rather than “doing to”

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Deborah RallsORCiD


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This paper stems from a research project exploring alternative approaches to engagement that challenge the widely accepted notion that professionals “do to” students, parents and communities (Dyson and Kerr, 2012). , The context of this research in a Co-operative school provides a specific lens through which to view engagement - via the Co-operative values and principles. This paper focuses on the development of an exploratory framework for conceptualising engagement in a Co-operative school and the potential for collective ownership of the education process (Facer, et al, 2011). Can becoming a Co-operative school support the development of a more relational, democratic approach to school engagement policy and practice; “doing with” rather than “doing to”? This research explores how far a Co-operative school philosophy can support a shift in the type of relationship that schools have with stakeholders, a shift towards what Warren et al (2009) term a “relational” approach. A relational approach is built upon social capital theory of how people connect with one another and the concept of a relational bridging as well as a bonding social capital (Putnam, 2000) and provides the researcher with a way of distinguishing and categorising attempts to establish democratic relationships in a Co-operative school. This paper seeks to bring to light the impact of Co-operative values and principles on how a school approaches, connects and develops engagement with different stakeholders; which types of knowledge are valued and whose interests are being served (Davidge et al, 2012) and how relational identities are established and grounded in experiences of power and control (Holland et al, 1998).

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ralls D

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: The International Cooperative Alliance Committee on Cooperative Research (ICA CCR) international research conference

Year of Conference: 2015

Acceptance date: 02/04/2014