Innovative school placements and collaborative arrangements between universities and schools are integral to the Teaching Councils Criteria and Guidelines for Programme Providers of Initial Teacher Education (2011).
The School of Education in NUI Galway has been working with a growing number of partner schools since 2011. We conceptualise our school-university partnership work as a process of learning and participation in a community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Central to our collaboration is our shared mission to enhance the experiences and learning outcomes of our student (and future) teachers. Guidelines for school-university collaboration and student teacher supervision have been developed and are regularly reviewed by university and school representatives as part of our ongoing communication during school-university partnership days and school-based meetings between cooperating teachers and university tutors.
In this presentation we will explore how cooperating teachers, principals, university tutors and student teachers have experienced the change from a complimentary to a collaborative partnership approach. Our data and findings form part of the wider School-University Partnership Research Project (SUPR). Data has been collected between 2011 and 2015 with data sources including minutes/notes from school-university partnership days and university tutor planning and reflection meetings, semi-structured narrative interviews with student teachers, cooperating teachers, principals and university tutors as well as ongoing reflections kept by the director of school placement.
We present our analysis with regard to the following questions:
How are cooperating teachers and university lecturers/tutors experiencing the change towards closer school-university (cooperating teacher university tutor) collaboration?
What do cooperating teachers, principals, university tutors and student teachers consider to be the benefits of our developing collaborative school university partnership for student teachers, for practicing teachers/schools, for university tutors/the university?
What do cooperating teachers, principals, university tutors and student teachers consider to be the main challenges of developing and maintaining collaborative school-university partnerships?
We will discuss how ongoing feedback from all actors, the findings from this analysis and a range of contextual factors are shaping our partnership work. Finally, we consider aims and next steps for our school-university partnership development.