Working together towards family-school partnership: what works?

Rosanne Spruijt (First author), Annelies Kassenberg, Martijn Willemse

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic

53 Downloads (Pure)


A.General description on research questions, objectives, and theoretical framework.
Research suggests that teachers and parents might be better equipped to tackle school bullying when they collaborate (Axford et al., 2015; Gaffney et al., 2021; Huang et al., 2019). Despite the various efforts to secure family-school partnerships, parents’ involvement in schools’ antibullying interventions remains limited (Gaffney et al., 2021).
Motivated to improve their family-school anti-bullying collaboration, three Dutch primary school communities took part in a participatory action research (Brydon‐Miller & Maguire, 2009) project. From 2019-2021, educational professionals and parents worked together supported by researchers, to pinpoint areas for improvement, and develop targeted solutions for their schools. The applied approach was similar to ‘action teams for partnership’ (Epstein, 2018), which has been argued to increase parent engagement to attain schools’ development goals.
In this study, we evaluated the project with participating parents, educational professionals, and researchers, to discover how they reflect on the process and its outcomes. Our aim was to find out whether (and how) the participatory action research approach helped school communities to work towards family-school partnership to tackle bullying.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participating parents (n=3/5), educational professionals (n=7/10) and researchers (n=3/3), through video calls which were recorded and transcribed. Content analysis was conducted to gain insight in participants’ experiences in the collaborative process of conducting research and designing solutions, and the perceived outcomes for themselves and their school.
C.Expected outcome/results
In this contribution, we critically reflect on our participatory action research approach, aiming to offer some guidance to community members and researchers looking to conduct similar studies. Overall, participants valued the collaborative process, and mentioned beneficial outcomes for themselves and/or their schools. Evaluations of the developed solutions, however, were mixed. Participants’ experiences were mainly related to alignment of interests and goals, group and community building, and exchange and coordination, as well as school- and contextual factors. While securing long lasting change remains challenging, participatory action research seems to be a fruitful approach to work towards family-school partnership.

Axford, N., Farrington, D. P., Clarkson, S., Bjornstad, G. J., Wrigley, Z., & Hutchings, J. (2015). Involving parents in school-based programmes to prevent and reduce bullying: What effect does it have? Journal of Children’s Services, 10(3), 242–251.
Brydon‐Miller, M., & Maguire, P. (2009). Participatory action research: Contributions to the development of practitioner inquiry in education. Educational Action Research, 17(1), 79–93.
Epstein, J. L. (2018). School, family, and community partnerships: Preparing educators and improving schools. Routledge.
Gaffney, H., Ttofi, M. M., & Farrington, D. P. (2021). What works in anti-bullying programs? Analysis of effective intervention components. Journal of School Psychology, 85, 37–56.
Huang, Y., Espelage, D. L., Polanin, J. R., & Hong, J. S. (2019). A Meta-analytic Review of School-Based Anti-bullying Programs with a Parent Component. International Journal of Bullying Prevention, 1(1).

Translated title of the contributionOp weg naar partnerschap tussen thuis en school: wat werkt?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventEuropean Research Network about Parents in Education - Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Duration: 29 Aug 202231 Aug 2022


ConferenceEuropean Research Network about Parents in Education
Abbreviated titleERNAPE


  • bullying
  • parental involvement
  • education


Dive into the research topics of 'Working together towards family-school partnership: what works?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this