The term ‘community education’ has been used in a number of ways and consequently it is challenging to provide one distinct definition. Additionally the literature clearly indicates that academics regard the terms ‘community’ and ‘education’ as misleading and ambiguous. There are three main uses of the term ‘community education’.
1. Community Education – The Village College
It is generally accepted that Henry Morris pioneered this form of community education in Cambridgeshire in 1922 when he was appointed as the County Education Secretary (now Chief Education Officer). He was frustrated with the education system in Cambridge and wrote his ‘Memorandum’ on The Village College (Rée 1985 pp.143-57) and created village colleges throughout the county that combined primary, secondary, further and adult education with recreational and social facilities (Clark 1996). Morris’ aim was to educate pupils in such a manner that schooling was integrated with their lives and he stated, “We should abolish the barriers which separate education from all those activities which make up adult living" (Rée 1985 p.20). Community schools can provide an alternative to the traditional school, which is restrictive for some pupils. Morris’ actions were considered revolutionary, it was not until the 1960s that education policies were challenged countrywide and education advisors such as Newson (1963) and Plowden (1967) produced reports giving their approval to “more progressive educational ideas, which sought to break down the traditional barriers between school and community” (Nisbet, Hendry, Stewart and Watts 1980 p.13). This lead to the expansion of community education into deprived regions across England where educational opportunities were limited, enabling schools to remove some of the barriers to learning. Community education created a link between the school and the community, often using the same site for schooling, adult education, youth services and recreation and leisure facilities (Midwinter, 1973).
Community education is not limited to England, probably the most powerful community education movement can be found in the USA and many schools now have interaction with adults in the surrounding community at academic, recreational and managerial levels (Midwinter 1973) (see Dewey). Additionally, community education can be found in Europe, for instance the German Bauhaus and Danish Folk High Schools developed by Grundtvig (Midwinter 1973).
2. Community Education – The management and funding of schools
Schools are funded in different ways according to the manner in which the school is organised. Although the day-to-day running of an LEA school is handed over to the governors and head teacher, the LEA has a legal responsibility to ensure that the standard of education delivered is satisfactory. The governing body is comprised of the head teacher, school staff, parent representatives, members of the local authority, members of the community and local industry or commerce representatives. The LEA employs the school staff and is responsible for admissions. This type of school is also known as a ‘community school’ under the bracket of a state school (DirectGov 2005).
3. Community Schools in Scotland
Recently there has been a new initiative by the Scottish Government to create over 150 schools that have integrated services that aim to raise the attainment of pupils and promote social inclusion. These schools have been called ‘community schools’. The Scottish Office (1999 pp.8-9) suggested that these schools must focus on the needs of all the pupils, engage the whole family and the wider community; have an integrated provision of school education, social work and health education; have integrated management; committed leadership; and multidisciplinary training and staff development.
Clark, D. (1996) Schools as Learning Communities: Transforming Education, London: Cassell.
DirectGov (2005) Education and Learning: Types of School (http://www.direct.gov.uk/EducationAndLearning/Schools/ChoosingASchool/ChoosingASchoolArticles/fs/en?CONTENT_ID=4016312&chk=mIV5hA) (visited 4-July-05)
Midwinter, E. (1973) Patterns of Community Education, London: Wardlock Educational.
Newson Report (1963) Half our Future. London; HMSO. In Nisbet, J., Hendry, L., Stewart, C., Watts, J. (1980) Towards Community Education: An evaluation of community schools, Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press.
Nisbet, J., Hendry, L., Stewart, C., Watts, J. (1980) Towards Community Education: An evaluation of community schools, Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press.
Plowden Report (1969) Children and their Primary Schools, London: HMSO in Nisbet, J., Hendry, L., Stewart, C., Watts, J. (1980) Towards Community Education: An evaluation of community schools, Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press.
Rée, H. (1985) Educator Extraordinary: The life and achievements of Henry Morris 1889-1961, London: Longman.
Scottish Office (1999) New Community Schools. The prospectus. Edinburgh: The Scottish Office. In: New Community Schools in Scotland (http://www.infed.org/schooling/s-newcs.htm) (visited 3-July-05)
Community Schools – Fact Sheet for Media
This fact sheet has been produced by The Coalition for Community Schools which is a US alliance of 180 national, state and local organisations. It gives details about what community schools are and their benefits.
http://www.iel.org/press/ccsfactsheet.html (Visited 3-July-05)
Community schools: What is a community school? How has it developed?
This is an extremely informative article that breaks down in detail the elements of a community school and provides a list of selected texts about community schools along with some case studies.
http://www.infed.org/schooling/b-comsch.htm (Visited 23-June-05)
Rochester Community Schools: Alternative Centre for Education (ACE)
This site explains how community education is put into practice and the ways in which it is organised and funded within a Michigan school. It stresses the importance of the community and realises the need for pupils to spend time undertaking work experience in their community.
http://www.rochester.k12.mi.us/index.asp?item=313&name=Overview&school=29 (Visited 3-July-05)
UNESCO: Transforming Community Schools into Open Learning Communities
This page, written by UNESCO, attempts to rationalise the reasons behind community education and understand the experiences of such schooling in order to decide whether the movement has been successful and if it meets the needs of communities today. The site also suggests some problems associated with community education.
http://www.newhorizons.org/trans/international/unesco_openlrn.htm (Visited 3-July-05)
Samberg, Laura; Sheeran, Melyssa (2000). Community School Models. ERIC Report ED466996
The models illustrate the vision of a community school, along with what happens at a community school, and demonstrate the key principles of a community school,