Accomplishing important work together

by Helen Timperley and Viviane Robinson


In this article from set: Research Information for Teachers, Dr Helen Timperley and Associate Professor Viviane Robinson examine what is meant by the term ‘partnership’ when applied in an education context.

One of the problems with the term, they suggest, is that partnership means different things to different people. For some, it is about power sharing; for others, it means involving particular people in achieving particular outcomes.

In this article, the authors explore the multi-dimensional nature of what partnerships mean in schools. They suggest that the strength of partnerships lies in the ability of the partners to integrate relationships and tasks in ways that enable the partners to work together and learn from one another.

Partnership examples are drawn from the Strengthening Education in Mangere and Otara (SEMO) initiative; partnerships between early childhood education (ECE) centres and schools; and partnerships between the Ministry of Education, local schools, and a forum of chairpersons from boards of trustees.

Reflective questions

These reflective questions might guide you in your reading of this article:

  • This article highlights that a partnership exists when each party shares some responsibility for the task to be completed. How do you develop partnerships with parents in your school?
  • What do you see as the costs and benefits of power sharing?
  • Reflect on a recent example of partnership in your school.
  • Who selected the group and how?
  • Who made the final decisions?
  • How was this determined?
  • What happened?
  • The term partnership indicates an equal relationship. The founding partnership that we have in New Zealand was established by the Treaty of Waitangi. How would you describe the partnership you have with your community in terms of being a Treaty partner?


Timperley, H., & Robinson, V. (2002). Partnerships: Accomplishing important work together. set: Research Information for Teachers, 3, 41–43.

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