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Partnerships and Collaboration with Other Schools

Policy

The purpose of this policy is to support schools to build mutually beneficial partnerships with other government and non-government schools.

Summary

  • Schools are encouraged to develop partnerships to create opportunities for students that would not otherwise be possible.
  • Schools may explore opportunities to provide access to subjects and/or school facilities in areas of curriculum need.
  • Schools may choose to build Communities of Practice in government and non-government school clusters.
  • Schools may encourage visitation and/or exchange of school staff.

Details

Background

School should pursue partnerships to realise benefits not otherwise available for schools and students, including:

  • improved curriculum provision for students
  • pooled resources and supports
  • knowledge sharing to address shared challenges and need
  • broader community benefits, such as through increased involvement in shared education, cultural and sporting activities

Schools should consider involving children and young people in partnership arrangements so as to help build stronger school communities.

Establishing a partnership

When establishing a partnership, schools are encouraged to:

  • engage with and seek support from the school community, including discussions with neighbouring schools to determine existing partnership activity occurring
  • discuss the partnership with school leadership
  • plan and formalise the partnerships by establishing a governance structure and work plan, documented in a Terms of Reference or Memorandum of Understanding
  • include partnerships as part of the school strategic and annual implementation plan
  • evaluate the partnership on a regular basis

Establishing a cross-sectoral partnership

Additionally, there are a number of practical steps principals or school leaders may wish to consider when establishing a cross-sectoral partnership with another group of schools.

Schools may choose to:

  • informally meet with nearby government and non-government schools with similar needs to discuss shared challenges and opportunities
  • prepare a partnership proposal and review it with the school council, students and their families
  • develop a shared strategy with the partner school, including agreement on objectives of the partnership
  • establish appropriate governance arrangements to manage the partnership
  • embed ongoing communication at a leadership level

Cross sector collaboration toolkit

The Cross-Sector Collaboration Toolkit is a practical resource that has been designed for principals to encourage greater collaboration across all three schools sectors. The toolkit provides case study examples of successful partnerships, as well as practical guidance to school leaders on processes for establishing effective governance arrangements. 

Philanthropic Partnerships

The motivation and potential of philanthropic sectors to partner with government schools is increasing. Factors contributing to this include the enhancement and expansion of philanthropic and corporate responsibility and the increasing recognition of the importance of education in meeting social and economic goals. Refer to Philanthropic Partnerships.

Important considerations

Partnerships exist to create opportunities for students that would not otherwise be possible. There are restrictions to the kinds of partnerships government schools can enter into. As such, government schools must not:

  • engage in partnerships for the purpose of creating a profit
  • engage in partnership activity with an organisation requiring the Department of Education and Training (the Department) to directly endorse or promote its product and/or services
  • engage in a partnership with political parties, tobacco companies, gaming venues, companies involved in the sale/promotion of alcohol, companies involved in the sale/promotion of firearms and organisations involved in offensive or inappropriate activity
  • disclose to an external organisation any school records containing private information about staff, parents and students, including names or addresses, without the explicit consent of those individuals

Instead, it is encouraged that schools:

  • enter into partnerships that are able to demonstrate a contribution to improve learning, development and wellbeing outcomes for children and young people
  • establish partnership relationships with organisations whose values, products, purposes and objectives are consistent with the schools as well as Department and Government’s policies, values, priorities and objectives
  • apply the information privacy principles in the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) to all partnerships

Definitions

Cross sectoral collaboration
Primary or secondary schools partnering with schools from another sector (government, independent or Catholic) to deliver shared initiatives, teaching curriculum, or facilities for students from each school.

Partnership
A relationship between a school and an organisation where all partners engage in the relationship to seek a common outcome of maximising learning and development outcomes for children and young people. A partnerships is not a contract arrangement to purchase services or activities; a sponsorship; or the hiring of school space for the exclusive benefit of an external organisation.

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
A formal document that outlines an agreement between two or more parties by setting out a framework of cooperation. It is not legally binding.

Terms of Reference (ToR)
A document that sets out the working arrangements for a partnership governance arrangement and can list vital information about a governance meeting’s purpose, chair and membership, meeting schedule, level of administrative support, and dispute resolution processes.

Relevant legislation

Department policy supporting schools to build mutually beneficial partnerships with other government and non-government schools

Reviewed 22 February 2021

Policy last updated

15 June 2020

Scope

  • Schools
  • School councils

Contact

Jack Watt Strategy and Integration Division

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