Schools Taking the Lead in Engaging Parents in Partnership: Supporting Lower-Achieving Students in Singapore Schools

Project Number
OER 30/12 LK

Project Duration
March 2013 - October 2016


School-stakeholder partnerships in Singapore are now mandatory and tangibly demonstrate better teaching and learning. Schools working with stakeholders began in 1998 when MOE launched a policy to engage the 'village' in supporting student learning. It was a key initiative in the 'Thinking Schools, Learning Nation' vision of ''''a total learning environment'''', shifting the traditional view of education as the responsibility of formal educational institutions to one advocating collaboration with the wider community. Since then, schools' attempts at 'doing partnership' have exploded into a diverse landscape of joint school-community efforts. Accountability and evaluation measures weigh in to ensure this: recognition for successful 'partnership practices' was given in the PARTNERS Award, introduced in 2002, but recently dismantled. Also, the Enhanced Performance Management System (EPMS) and the School Excellence Model (SEM), include clear indicators of 'partnership practices' in the assessment of teachers and schools. Such practices take different forms, depending both on the ages of students and current stages of partnership development in individual schools. This project will add to current knowledge on school partnerships in Singapore, generating a unique, ground-level insight into what partnership policies, practices and cultures look like in 2 local secondary schools, and how these interweave to contribute to positive outcomes for lower-achieving students. The project focuses on the perspectives of 4 groups of key stakeholders - parents, teachers, school leaders and students - and the networks of relationships among them. This will help to frame the picture of lower-achieving students' learning needs, and practices for engaging parents to work in partnership with schools to meet these needs. While the partnerships framework has opened up new channels for parents to voice concerns about schooling issues, the literature suggests that parental involvement is unevenly distributed across socio-economic and ethnic groups. Parents who come forward to confidently speak up, volunteer, or proactively take action on behalf of their children, tend to be better-educated, and empowered, to seize opportunities to support their child's academic learning. Such findings raise important questions about how schools at the primary, secondary and junior college level, as well as special education schools, can reach out to, and connect with, the parents in their community who are less-involved, less willing and/or less able to be engaged in supporting their children. Ultimately, the focus in this research will be on how school leaders and teachers in 2 government, co-ed, single-session schools with a relatively high proportion of lower-achieving students can lead in partnering parents to more strongly engage in, and support, the learning experiences and raise the schooling outcomes of these lower-achievers.

Funding Source

Related Links
SingTeach Issue 56 (2016): Working with Parents to Support Students
NIE Research Briefs No. 16-014: Schools Engaging Parents in Partnership: Supporting Lower-Achieving Students in Schools

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