Teacher, support partner and parent talking

Establish collaborative partnerships - Collaborative Partnerships in Action

teaching practice

For student year

Preschool – Year 12

Helps students to

  • feel connected
  • develop positive relationships

Helps teachers to

  • identify key stakeholders
  • identify student needs


Students with diverse learning needs require collaborative partnerships with input from a range of stakeholders to meet their learning and success across the school years.

This practice is the first in a series of three designed to support teachers establish, value and sustain student-centred collaborative partnerships throughout the students’ school journey.

This practice identifies factors that are important to consider when establishing student-centred collaborative partnerships.

Watch this video to learn more about how to establish collaborative partnerships.

Duration: 03:11

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers related to this practice

4.1 - support student participation

4.3 - manage challenging behaviour

7.3 - engage with the parents/carers

For further information, see Australian Professional Standards for Teachers AITSL page(link is external)

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Preparing to teach

What is a collaborative partnership?

A collaborative partnership focuses on forming partnerships with key stakeholders who work together (in partnership) to define and achieve common and mutually agreed upon goals.

How do collaborative partnerships benefit students?

Collaborative partnerships promote a student-centred approach to supporting the needs and strengths of diverse learners. They promote an inclusive school culture and community focused on building positive student outcomes and creating a sense of connection within the school environment. These partnerships increase student’s opportunity for positive interactions, a strengths-based focus and maximises their success, participation, engagement and learning in school contexts.

Collaborative partnerships need to be planned for and developed. There are three key aspects to collaborative partnerships (CP)

  1. Establishing the collaborative partnerships – who will be involved and what form will this take?
  2. Ensuring equity and valuing the collective voice in collaborative partnerships – what mechanisms have been put in place to ensure all voices are heard and everyone has the opportunity to share their views?
  3. Sustaining the collaborative partnerships – how will you manage and, maintain the partnership?

What should teachers consider when establishing a CP?

  1. The structure and organisation of the partnerships e.g., who should be involved and how?
  2. The communication strategies used to establish collaborative partnerships.
  3.  How the establishment of collaborative partnerships will support and nurture partner’s equitable views.

Deciding who to include as essential partners

Consider who should be involved and how will they be involved. Parents, educators, students and the multidisciplinary team are important when establishing collaborative partnerships.

The collaborative process will involve discussions around goal setting, decision making, discussions and problem. Consider who the essential members of the team should be including parents and the student. It is important to remember, the collaborative team and the partnership that evolves is built over the medium and long term, and ensures everyone feels heard, respected, and is involved in the process in a way they are comfortable with.

How do you include partners?

Working together can take many forms: it is not always a matter of sitting at the same table at the same time. Be flexible when involving different partners to ensure they can be effectively and equitably involved in the collaboration.

Consult with all partners and ensure they are comfortable with the method and type of consultation.

  • Allow them to engage in the process over a period of time (e.g. conduct a first meeting with a portion of the partners and distribute the minutes of this meeting at a later meeting with the rest of the partners). You may also use various media (e.g. at a distance, in person, by filling out documents that will be read and shared at the meeting).

Involve each partner at various levels and in different ways or modes.

  • The most effective way to find out how to involve each member is to discuss this with them. Ask them how they would like to be involved and in what capacity – adviser, support. Be aware that some people may just want to be informed. Make sure you also find out about the constraints that affect them, - there may be restrictions around availability due to work or outside commitments, other clients or budgetary constraints.

Be flexible in your approach: a telephone discussion, an e-mail exchange, software that allows for a follow-up of situations, a message in a mailbox, physical or virtual presence at meetings are all possible solutions.

  • Once the method and frequency of meetings has been clarified this needs to be communicated. Openness around how you will communicate and how often is important. You may find that you need to develop a communication plan or timeline so people know when to expect updates or when you will be scheduling meetings. 

Make sure your communication plan is:

  • equitable
  • meets the needs of all partners,
  • has clearly established lines of communication
  • is flexible.

In the classroom

Step 1 - Download the Establishing collaborative partnerships information form

Download the Establishing collaborative partnerships information form (Practice 1) - available in the resources section of this practice.

When establishing a collaborative partnership identify what it is that you need to collaborate with others about. For example: 

  • Planning student centred adjustments
  • Identifying learning goals
  • Developing a behaviour support plan
  • Supporting transitions
  • Ensuring everyone is on the same page
  • Identifying student needs and strengths, navigating issues that have arisen.

Step 2 - Draft initial goals and identify key stakeholders

Draft your initial goals for the collaboration and key stakeholders you think maybe involved (Section 1 of the form)  

Action: Identify the goals to be achieved by your collaboration

  • Identify who might be important to consult with e.g., student, parents, other teaching staff, ancillary staff, staff from the leadership team, external stakeholders


Step 3 - Contact stakeholders to discuss goals and roles

Phone or email stakeholders to discuss the goals and their role in the collaboration (Important points from these conversations can be noted in Section 2 of the form)

Action: Identify who should be involved in the collaboration

  • Liaise with relevant partners about their involvement to determine what role they may play and how this might be achieved
  • Based on identified partner feedback, develop a plan of:
    • How the partnership might work and 
    • plan some initial goals for the partnership that can be reviewed and assessed by the team when they meet
    • Consider the best forms of communication and modes to liaise partners


Step 4 - Contact details and collaboration preferences

Collect best contact details and collaboration preferences (Section 3 of the form)

Action: Contact stakeholders to discuss their role in the collaboration and the goals 

  • Collect collaborators best contact details
  • Collect information about collaboration preferences 
    • Consider:
      • What role each person will play
      • Who will be the key contact and coordinator of partnerships
      • What is the best way to communicate with them and across the group
      • How regular will communication be and what form will that take


Step 5 - Finalise your draft plan

Finalise your draft plan for establishing collaborative partnerships in section 4 of the form.

Action: Draft a plan for the partnership including:

  • Drafting initial goals 
  • Identifying modes of communication with partners
    • Identify:
      • What role each person will play
      • Who the key contact and coordinator of the partnership will be
      • How you will communicate with members 
      • Frequency and mode of communication 

 Practice 3 Sustaining collaborative partnerships will explore some of the facilitators and barriers further.

How do you know if it is working?

Collaborative partnerships need to be reviewed and evaluated to ensure they are continuing to meet the needs of all stakeholders.

  • Seek feedback to make sure communication is clear
  • Review meeting times and frequency – does this need to change
  • Ask for suggestions to make things easier for everyone.

Be aware of some of the facilitators and barriers to collaborative partnerships and how these influence the success of the partnerships.

  • Consider how to minimise barriers so productive and positive collaborative partnerships can be sustained, maintained and properly evaluated.
  • Review the elements of the Collaborative partnerships that are working well? (e.g., communication, participation, structure and organisation and relevance).

Practice toolkit

Practice implementation planner template

We know it's not always easy to keep track of what's working and what isn't. So, we've created this template for you to record and reflect on what you're doing to create more inclusive classrooms. The implementation planner contains:

  • guidance around goal setting
  • a reflection section (what worked, didn’t work, what to change, and next steps)
  • prompting questions.

Implementation planner with examples

Set your professional learning goal for:

Establish collaborative partnerships - Collaborative Partnerships in Action
You can set and save your goal for inclusive practices using inclusionED. Saved goals will appear in your profile. Here you can access, refine and review your goal easily.

Benefits of goal setting

Setting, working towards, and reflecting on goals helps you grow professionally and improve your practice. You can access AITSL learning resources for teachers to learn more about:
How to set goals
The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership recommends using the SMART matrix to frame your goal setting.

SMART goals refers to goals that are:
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-phased
Read more about Improving teaching practices.


Establishing collaborative partnerships information form

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