Dangerous liaisons: home-business-school networks

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Coco, A, Goos, M & Kostogritz, A 2006, 'Dangerous liaisons: home-business-school networks', in PL Jeffrey (ed.), Australian Association for Research in Education Conference, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, 27 November - 1 December, Australian Association for Research in Education, Melbourne, Vic.


Using data from an Australian study of home, school and community partnerships, we suggest that commercial tutoring agencies are a community resource which increasingly parents are choosing to supplement their children's numeracy education. Drawing on contemporary activity theory we argue that because home, school and commercial enterprises are overlapping spheres of influence in some children’s learning they can be conceived of as a network of activity systems that interact with each other in some significant ways. However, only when this mutual influence is recognised can we consider the network in terms of partnerships between home, school and community. We challenge the prevailing education ethos in Australia which marginalizes and ignores the growing proliferation of for-profit tutoring businesses. In a context where cultural diversity, changing demographics and democratic choice prevail, the value of for-profit agencies may lie in areas not well met by schools. Tutoring businesses are usually well-equipped, most using the latest information and communications technologies, and offer one-to-one, or small group attention to students thus improving confidence, a large factor in numeracy success. Parents typically report that they employ commercial services because their children have particular needs which they feel are not met adequately in classroom settings.