Literature review: analysis of current research, theory and practice in partnership working to identify constituent components of effective ITT partnerships


What the resource is:
This literature review was commissioned by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA). It presents a summary and analysis of existing research into ITT partnership published between 2004 and 2009.

In order to explore the issue of partnership working more broadly, research on other partnerships within the education sector, and research from other countries, is also considered.

The review is structured in four sections:


  • Models of partnership working between ITT providers and schools, and their impact on partner institutions, practitioners and learners
  • Models of partnership working in the education sector and their impact on partner institutions, practitioners and learners
  • United Kingdom and International Models of partnership working
  • Effective ITT Partnerships: the core components


The first three sections comprise summaries of key research literature in each area, and the final section provides a detailed analysis of key themes drawn from the literature.


The aims of the resource:
The resource aims to analyse current research, theory and practice in partnership working in order to establish which forms of partnership working are currently seen as effective practice (p.4).


Key findings or focus:
The authors searched a range of bibliographic sources using key words in order to finally identify 66 items of literature that were relevant to the focus of the review. These items were then summarised, and a number of core components of successful partnerships were identified:


  • Vision
  • Organisational structures
  • Communication
  • Ways of working
  • Networking
  • Flexibility
  • Relationships
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Commitment
  • Resource


The authors suggest that these components are discrete, but inter-related. A helpful summary diagram is provided, indicating the key features of successful practice in each of the core components (p.6 in the embedded report below). The findings show that there are many different kinds of partnership in ITT provision and that ‘no one size fits all'.  However, the core of successful partnership was seen to be:

"the desire to build an atmosphere of collegiality in which professional learning enhanced the career trajectory of all practitioners and contributed, not only toward the professional development of ITT trainees but also, toward the development of plurilingual professionals" (p.5).

Within this context it was possible for practitioners to develop critical dialogue and to make links between theory and practice.
Brief research summaries are drawn from work on both primary and secondary school partnership, and also on the impact of ITE partnership on the professional development of mentors. Examples are also drawn from studies on partnership working in the context of extended schools, Sure Start children's centres, Creative Partnerships and other partnership models beyond ITE.


The quality, authority and credibility of the resource in relation to ITE:
The methods used to identify the literature analysed in the review are outlined in detail. These were systematically applied and internally verified by the team of authors. The authors are experienced in the field of ITE and partnership development and have clearly drawn on this knowledge to generate appropriate search terms. The identification of the 66 studies chosen for fuller analysis is thus credible, and the conclusions drawn from the analysis has authority in this respect.

The authors acknowledge that time constraints on the research process may have restricted the scope of the literature search, so that some ITE providers may not have been able to respond to requests for further evidence. There may also have been other research scheduled for publication, but not yet in the public domain, due to the time lag between an article being accepted by a journal and being published.


The implications for ITE tutors/mentors - when and how it could have best impact:
This review would be of interest to all ITE tutors and mentors involved in the development of school partnerships. New ITE tutors would find the section on the current policy context, and the range of partnership models, helpful in understanding the landscape of partnership working within the UK and internationally.

This is a rich resource in terms of providing research evidence on a range of aspects of partnership, for example those examining the differing contributions made by ITE tutors and mentors to ITE students' professional development, as well as examining structural features of partnership organisation. It would be a useful addition to course materials in Masters level work in the area of mentoring. The section outlining the processes used to identify the final research studies involved in the review might also be of more general interest to tutors and Masters students.

It is also important to recognise that the findings do not privilege any one model of partnership over others, but rather indicate that locally determined practices are equally likely to be effective, if they demonstrate the key components identified within the review.


The relevance to ITE students - how and why it has importance:
This is a lengthy literature review, and may not seem immediately relevant to ITE students, although it might re-assure students on different routes into teaching, that it is the quality of the partnership and not the specific model of operation that is significant.

The section examining broader educational partnerships it may provide insight into the ways in which schools increasingly engage with other organisations, and extend ITE students' appreciation of the ways in which schools engage in partnership working.


Reviewed by:

Viv Wilson


T35416 Literature Review - Final - February 2010