Schools as Community-based Organisations

Anne Wilkin, Kay Kinder, Richard White, Emily Lamont, Paul Howard

01 June 2007

Research report available to download from CfBT website

This research, commissioned by CFBT, explores the experiences of three primary and three secondary schools in their journey towards becoming community based organisations (CBO) - offering services and provision to the school and wider communities. This longitudinal study considers issues raised during this process, focussing on the key stages and elements of development: initial preparation, including vision and consultation issues; operating as a CBO, including planning, funding, implementation and management issues, as well as the implications of, and for, partnership working and integrated delivery/service provision. The research then considers the impact of schools operating as CBOs, including the issues associated with defining and measuring impact, as well as explorations of impacts on the schools and their pupils; on families and the wider communities and on service providers.

Key Findings

  • Although the terminology was not widely used, by the end of the research, many interviewees, (especially those in the secondary school contexts), clearly considered that their school was well developed as a CBO, operating as the heart of, and for, their local community. There was a common acceptance that schools have greater remits and responsibilities than those traditionally associated with a school.
  • There are no definitive models or blueprints of a CBO. Pursuing this approach to service delivery is successful when underpinned and driven by a negotiated, consultation-led exploration of the needs and wants of service users in their local contexts.
  • The research identified the importance of a ‘driver’ to motivate and inspire all involved to make things happen. As such, this distributed leadership could reduce the demands on school managers and help to promote and sustain CBO activities in the longer term.
  • Networking and partnership working were identified as essential to the success and continuation of this approach to provision. Mutually beneficial relationships were established and developed between schools and providers that were seen as key to successful delivery.
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