Parents as partners
Parents as partners

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Parents as partners

1.2 Practitioner – parent partnerships

1.2.1 The nature of partnership

Partnership: An association of two or more people as partners; a joint business.

(The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles)

Partnership can be found in many areas of life. Solicitors, accountants, doctors and dental surgeons often set up partnerships. People ‘in partnership’ own shops and department stores, such as the ‘John Lewis Partnership’.

In education, the idea of a partnership between parents and practitioners has been around for many years. In the late 1970s the Warnock Report reviewed provision for children with special educational needs in England and Wales. The report contained an influential chapter entitled ‘Parents as partners’ (CEEHCYP, 1978). Indeed, it is now in the area of special educational needs and inclusive education that partnership with parents can often be found in its most developed form. Parents of a child with complex needs usually become very knowledgeable about their child's requirements. Wolfendale (1987), writing of the rationale for involving parents in assessment, refers to parents' equivalent expertise’. There is much to suggest that practitioners become more informed professionals if they form close partnerships with parents. In fact, when children have complex needs, professionals find that they must consult with parents' specific requirements in order to understand and make provision for those needs.

The concepts associated with practitioner – parent partnership, include ‘parental participation, parental involvement parental support, parental collaboration and parental engagement. There is, however, much overlap between these terms. ‘Partnership’ has become the preferred term to describe the relationship that an early years setting aims to have with parents and the wider community. This is reflected in the day-to-day language used by practitioners, and in the various curriculum guidance documents produced by all four UK countries.

In early years care and education contexts, the notion of partnership is associated with ‘shared understanding, mutual respect and discussion’ (ACCAC, 2000, p. 9) rather than a set of roles and responsibilities for partners.

The establishment of partnership between practitioners with differing specialisms is also a key tenet in the Every Child Matters agenda (DFES 2006)


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371