The purpose of this study was to explore and describe parents' and caregivers' retrospective
experiences of a higher education-rural school partnership providing educational psychology
services. The study aimed to inform knowledge on community engagement with schools and
forms part of the broad FLY (Flourishing Learning Youth) community engagement initiative that
has been ongoing since 2006.
The current study utilised interpretivism as metatheory and qualitative research as
methodological paradigm. An instrumental case study design was utilised, with a specific higher
education-rural school partnership conveniently sampled. Subsequently twelve parents or
caregivers to a child/ren who participated in the relevant community engagement initiative at
any time since 2006, were purposefully selected. Two field visits were taken for data collection
purposes; the first included Participatory Reflection and Action (PRA) discussions between
participants, whilst the second visit entailed member checking. I relied on written recording of
the participants' dialogue on PRA posters, audio recordings of their poster presentations,
observations throughout the process, photographs taken and a reflective journal as data
collection and documentation strategies.
From thematic data analysis two main themes emerged. Firstly, participants identified the
partnership as a platform of educational opportunity, which allowed for children's development
on a cognitive and socio-emotional level. Secondly, participants emphasised their hope for the
continuation and growth of the partnership in the future. Participants expect the partnership to broaden in multiple ways, such as involving parents and caregivers, providing them with a safe
space to voice their opinions, and incorporating a parental guidance element.
Based on the findings of the study I can conclude that according to parents and caregivers,
community engagement with schools provides an opportunity for the mobilisation of children
assets to result in their positive development. Furthermore, when additionally activating the
assets of the parents, community engagement can be strengthened.