Back to previous page icon BACK TO BLOG HOME

Understanding the Pillars of Community Schools

This article is part of the Community School Model Guide. Learn all about Parental involvement in education, Community involvement in schools, and School-Community relationship.


Community schools are bound by the four pillars they are built on. However, as each community has different needs, priorities, and assets, community schools cannot look exactly alike. 

What is of outmost importance for the community schools? Advanced learning and healthy development of children. 

A Brief History of Community Schools 

Community schools were born out of a necessity – the need to have an effective improvement strategy of attendance, of how students reacted to learning, on their academic success as well as on their development as citizens. They appeared as early as the early 20s as an answer to solve the socio-economic shifts that took place in the late 19th century. 

Community schools are available for students from all social backgrounds and are not focused necessarily on those that are more disadvantaged or those that face the racism problem. However, they tend to be formed in these neighbourhoods as these people need community schools the most. 

Many families believe a community school can help them as a daily be more united, have the same goals, work towards the well being of their children, and understand their children’s needs. 

Community schools result from America’s need to see schools as community hubs. They aim to help children thrive, learn and become successful members of society. There are more than 5,000 such schools in America, and most of them have appeared in the last ten years. 

While there may be a slight difference between the community schools and the programs they offer, they are all based on four main pillars:

 – Integrated student supports

 – Expanded learning time and opportunities

 – Family and community engagement

 – Collaborative leadership and practice


Common Features of Community Schools 

Community schools appeared to help students feel like belonging and see school as a community. In a community school, students do more than just learn. All their needs are taken care of, they receive support whenever things get tough, and they know to be open and share their problems. 

Community schools today continue to have strong partners in government, social service agencies, institutions of high education and families from their community. These strong partnerships help them develop and continue their role of guidance and learning for the students. 

The Four Pillars of Community Schools 

The community schools are unique through the four pillars they are based on. Each of the pillars contributes to adding a plus to quality education, a fulfilled life, a supported student, and a community of high-class teaching and academic excellence. 

Integrated Student Support 

The integrated student support pillar focuses on providing the health and social service students, and their families are sometimes in need of. To provide successful support, the community schools partner with specialists in the field. This supports the WHOLE child approach where both the academic and the well being of children are important when trying to have a high-quality learning environment. 

Community schools try to cover the basic needs of a child’s development by offering this support. They want to help students develop, thus supporting their academic, social, emotional, physical, psychological and moral needs. Through this, they also create a climate of safety where students can feel all their needs are taken care of and where students can come in for help. There are many instabilities that a child can face, and these are those that have a great effect on their ability to do well in school. Being able to reach out to them and discover what prevents them from having a smooth learning journey is where community schools and their social partners do. 

It also integrates the need to recover from the trauma of bullying and other punitive actions that students might have been put to. 

Expanded and Enriched Learning Time and Opportunities 

These learning times and opportunities refer mainly to everything extra-curriculum related. Thus – after school, weekend activities, summer camps, and activities to support a real community of people dealing with real-life problems. All of these mean a lot to students who want to be a part of this world, want to feel useful, want to learn more, and especially for those who do not have someone who can e there with them and help them do all these extra activities. 

These types of activities are essential in the growing development of children. They are a significant part of what shapes children and helps them become future human beings. 

As far as this pillar is concerned, learning is the top priority here, learning from activities, interactions, etc. 

Active Family and Community Engagement 

A community school is all about partnerships, and creating a genuine partnership with the students’ families from the school and other community members is vital. This partnership desires to involve parents, and other stakeholders have a say in children’s education. 

It helps build strong ties between the family, community and school. 

Parents can also participate in learning classes that can help them understand their children’s courses and give them a helping hand when needed. 

This strong engagement between families and school creates a trustworthy and safe environment. 

Families and teachers that work together, can create an environment where students are more engaged and have higher grades, take on challenges, come to school, participate in activities. Involvement matters.

Collaborative Leadership and Practices 

Community schools need a community organisation that can organise and coordinate the strategy of community schools in the region and foster teacher collaboration and experience sharing. Having a community of teachers who all share experiences will help them in their learning journey. 



Supporting community schools is creating high-class learning opportunities for children in a world where they need to exist. 

Pillars of Community Schools FAQ 

What are the main characteristics or pillars of community schools? 

The main characteristics of community schools are:

 – Integrated student support

 – Learning opportunities and time

 – Family and community engagement 

 – Collaborative leadership and practices


What makes a community school? 

A community school is like a neighbourhood hub. It is opened six out of seven days, usually year-round from dawn to dusk. It is THE place where students can find both support and learning, where they feel they are understood and they can make real friends. 

While community schools intend to be a support for the ones that lack the basics like food, shelter, clothes as well as education, sometimes a lot of resources are needed for this and not all community schools can offer this kind of support for an unlimited period. It comes with its own staff but rather than this it is helped by partnerships with various institutions. 

What is the communities in schools model? 

Community schools don’t have a model they need to follow, as each is created according to the needs of the community they serve. However, they do have the goal to provide guidance, learning, and support for children and their families. The way they work is through and with the help of their partners such as social services, specialists in different domains, governments and families.