Sustaining Relationships in Teacher Education Partnerships: the Possibilities, Practices and Challenges of a School-University Partnership, Preparing Teachers for the Future

Document Type

Journal Article


Common Ground Publishing

Place of Publication



Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Education / Fogarty Learning Centre




Sharp, S., & Turner, W. (2008). Sustaining Relationships in Teacher Education Partnerships: The Possibilities, Practices and Challenges of a School-University Partnership, Preparing Teachers for the Future.International Journal of Learning, 15(5).

Available here


A four-year Bachelor of Education (Kindergarten through Primary) Program was established in 2002 at the Edith Cowan University, Joondalup Campus, Perth, Western Australia. In establishing the program the brief was to build mutually productive relationships with partner schools. Since 2002, the development of these university-school partnerships has provided authentic opportunities for prospective teachers to learn in the continually changing and evolving context of practice, whilst also contributing to school priorities and children’s learning.

The central premise of partnerships at ECU Joondalup, is the belief that teaching is a collegial process and teachers, teacher educators and pre-service teachers learn in the context of ‘interdependent relationships’. This has involved all stakeholders finding meaningful ways to develop collegiality and professional interaction from a position of trust, respect and sense of contribution to the whole (Marlow and Nass-fuka, 2000). Working together as ‘learning partners’ in the authentic context of schools, to better understand and enhance teaching and learning is central to developing these interdependent relationships.

Sustaining the principles, processes and relationships on which partnerships have been developed is however, a consistent challenge. This paper outlines the key successes and future challenges of the ECU, Joondalup partnerships program, in relation to the role of professional practice, the development of professional relationships with schools, the provision of service to schools through intensive teaching units and the central role of professional practice in the course, with explicit links between practice and theory. A key element in the development of relationships is the interdependency of all stakeholders in the school-university partnership program.