The Development of Professionals' Perceptions and Practices in a Community-Oriented Primary School

  • Elizabeth Parr

Student thesis: Doctor of Education


To deal with the challenge of deprivation and its impact on learning, there is a long history of schools attempting to respond by working beyond the school gates. Despite a wealth of how-to-do-it guides and advocacy texts for this approach, there is little detailed research into how community-oriented schools are understood and enacted by various core educational professionals, particularly those working in primary schools. Given the centrality of educational professionals' practice in this policy arena, this study aimed to respond to such a gap. This study focused on an in-depth analysis and reflection on the ways in which community-oriented schooling was understood by professionals and what has influenced their thinking, as well as their ensuing action in one particular primary school. The overarching research question was: what are professionals' perceptions and practices of a community-oriented approach in the context of a primary school located in a socio-economically disadvantaged community? This required a research design that allowed a sample of eight school staff to be analysed using a case study design. Within this, a suite of research methods was applied, including interviews, observations and analysis of key school documentation to explore multi-level factors that impact on professionals. Finally, a synthesising tool was developed to examine the interrelationships between the factors. The findings state that the way individual professionals respond to the proximal and distal factors is not linear or straightforward to understand. Instead the data suggested a dynamic complexity where a spectrum of factors intersected for individuals in distinct ways. Such findings point to the use of an ecological approach to help explain the various perceptions and practices of community-oriented schooling. This study suggests that policy development and enactment of community-oriented schooling cannot be generalised in any unilateral way but instead needs to be understood within localised settings.
Date of Award31 Dec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorCarlo Raffo (Supervisor) & David Dyson (Supervisor)


  • community-oriented
  • primary school
  • professional perceptions
  • professional practices

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