Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation

Schools First: Final Report

Publication Date



The purpose of this report is to provide both a context and an evidence base for the Schools First Awards, particularly the key criteria that have been developed for the Awards. The basis of the report is a literature review. There are three parts to the review: an overview of the concept of social capital and its relationship to school–community partnerships and school improvement; an outline of several effective school–community partnerships; and a review of a number of national and international award schemes. Building social capital is about building personal and community assets. The concept of ‘asset building’ is at the heart of effective school–community partnerships. Such partnerships enable students, teachers, parents and community groups to draw on a wide range of skills and expertise. By pooling physical, intellectual and other resources, school communities have access to a potentially richer source of support than would otherwise be available if each partner were acting alone. The literature review indicates that strong partnerships between schools, parents, businesses and local community organisations can make a significant difference to outcomes for young people. While one of the difficulties associated with research in the field of school improvement is that of establishing a causal relationship between a particular intervention and improved student outcomes, the research shows a range of positive outcomes associated with school–community partnerships, including increased skills, greater engagement with learning, more positive attitudes, and improved transitions into the workforce, further education or training.