The role of schools in place-based initiatives

Place-based approaches bring together the resources that communities need to thrive. Grounded in collaboration, they work towards strengthening communities and making sure the service system is responsive to local needs.

The Our Place approach starts by creating a holistic, family-centred view of the existing service system and looks at what is already working well for families and communities – a ‘strengths-based approach’.

We then identify what makes it hard for a family to access support and works to overcome these barriers. Our Place supports families with complex needs to access resources and services and helps them build on their strengths and address their challenges to grow in a positive way.

Community-driven, place-based approaches are the most promising solution to the challenge of a fragmented, ineffective and inefficient service system that does not meet the needs or deliver changes in outcomes for children, families or the community (Fox et al. 2015; Moore, T et al. 2014).

What is the role of schools?

Schools at Our Place sites play the same role as that of other schools by supporting children in their learning journey with the aim of achieving their education potential. 

However, with partnerships in place, schools, children and their families have access to range of onsite resources and services that provide additional support to ensure children are ready and able to learn effectively. 

With supports in place, schools are better able to help children experiencing social and economic disadvantage develop an attitude to learning that is positive, proactive and ongoing throughout life.  With parents and guardians more engaged and involved at the school including through learning opportunities of their own, the school becomes a community learning centre rather than a place that separates children from the world of adults and the wider community. (Edgar 2001)

When schools in disadvantaged communities act as community hubs they have the potential to create powerful change. When implemented with strong engagement of local community leaders and service providers, schools can offer services and support at the place where children and families come every day; they use a highly accessible, non-stigmatising universal platform to build relationships, identify needs and aspirations, and reduce barriers to accessing support; and they build on the aspirations all families have for their children to learn and succeed (Moore, KA et al. 2017; NCFCS 2011; Sanjeevan, McDonald & Moore 2012; Walsh et al. 2014).

“Schools are particularly prominent and widely used public institutions with enormous potential as a focus of local collective life. Where schools are open and encourage engagement; where they work with parents, students, voluntary organisations, community groups and other local bodies, they will help foster strong social networks” Rogers and Robinson (2004)