Mapping the Conceptual Landscapes of School-university Partnerships in New Zealand
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The aim of this research is to identify relationships between ideas that are currently influencing ‘partnership’ in the New Zealand education system. The focus is on how institutions express ideas related to school-university partnership. The research explains how ideas about ‘partnership’ in education are currently framed, and tentatively suggests how partnership might be better approached. The research responds to a shift toward more collaborative models of professional practice in the education system. It assumes that the conceptual frameworks institutions use to express ideas of partnership are a foundation for the creation, discussion, and practice of partnership. By investigating schema used by the Ministry of Education, schools, and universities this research makes explicit some assumptions related to ‘partnership’ in education. It investigates implicit schema through an analysis of how institutions present ideas about ‘partnership’ on public webpages. Using discourse analysis approaches to uncover different perspectives and deeper conceptual understandings, this study focuses on ways different institutions construct meanings and express concepts related to ‘partnership’. Using a critical realist theorising methodology it also examines causal mechanisms, attributes, and conditions related to the entity of ‘partnership’. The findings suggest that currently four key purposes for partnership exist in the New Zealand education system. They suggest that learning to ‘cope’ with unpredictable change is a generative mechanism for partnership. Intertwined underlying schema that may influence current understandings of partnership and collaborative practices are identified. The findings also suggest that the schema of systemic improvement is inherently flawed. The research outlines how a schema promoting ‘thinking systemically’ may be a means to overcome a current gap between the ‘promise’ of partnership and partnership in practice.