5.2. Stakeholders' networks
When many different stakeholders are involved in developing and implementing a strategy to address early school leaving, it may be necessary to create formalised structures to support their work. All stakeholders need to have a common understanding of the challenges they are seeking to address and share a common goal and approach. Support structures and coordinating mechanisms should also be in place to ensure dialogue and a reciprocal flow of information between the school and a wider set of stakeholders, as well as with the relevant public authorities. Effective stakeholder networks must involve an appropriate set of stakeholders, who understand the local circumstances and context and who are able to intervene locally in the problems which are putting learners at risk of early school leaving. A wide range of stakeholders and professionals who could contribute to the network should be identified; they should be invited and involved from the start of the process.
The following factors are essential for developing effective stakeholder networks:
- Clarity among all stakeholders regarding their needs, interests and expectations. Schools also have to define their needs, challenges and strengths.
- Formal or informalagreements between stakeholders and schools specifying roles and responsibilities of each partner.
- A common strategy/action plan, based on clear and shared targets. The strategy/plan should be focused on the needs of the learner, and be based on a truly multi-agency approach, whilst respecting the differing perspectives and missions of each stakeholder.
- Effective communication
- Monitoringand evaluation mechanisms, allowing for continuous feedback, adaptation and change of involvement as appropriate. Guidance/indicators should be developed to facilitate self-evaluation where appropriate.
- An ability to develop relationshipsover time, acknowledging the importance of mutual respect and the expertise that each partner can bring.
- Active consultation with those learners and families intended to benefit from a multi-agency approach about how they might be supported more effectively.