University-school connections (partnerships) have had an historical place in Australia, England and the United States of America since Dewey in 1904; however, there is increasing acknowledgement of the value of connections that vary from the traditional versions of professional experiences (practicum and internship). In this paper, I draw on two sources of data, a literature review and focus group interviews both of which were collected for a larger research project titled University-School Connections (USCs): Complex Connections. Plentiful evidence, over time, of the research effort spent on USCs is available, with the bulk of studies indicating the high value of USCs to stakeholders, (individually and collectively: pre-service teacher education students, teachers, schools, and by extension school students, academics, higher education institutions and systems operating within the profession and beyond). Alongside of this evidence of 'value' sits, at times, an urgent call for adaptations to the style and an increase in the frequency of university-school connections. The focus is on four areas in this paper. Firstly, the terminology used by researchers to describe USCs is explored and it is argued that the use of the word partnership isn't the most appropriate choice. Partnerships, according to research, happen via collaboration, are mutually beneficial, with partners having some autonomy, thus resulting in the creation of a common culture. These ingredients however do not necessarily constitute a recipe for a successful or enduring partnership. Wenger claims that collaboration and the forming of a common culture can involve challenges such as 'conflict and cordiality, competitiveness and co-operation'. Sachs tackles the difficult problem of defining partnerships based on either collaboration or co-operation. I argue that the use of the term partnership for co-operative/ collaborative and /or third culture arrangements between schools and universities is a misnomer and in some way contributes to the cause of disharmony, dissatisfaction and lack of endurance of some partnerships. Secondly, there is a brief historical perspective of the journey of USCs and thirdly an outline of more recent developments in USCs touching on both a national and international perspective where there has been a systematic push for universities, students, graduates, government and community to make meaningful connections is presented. Indeed many Australian university strategic plans encourage the development of collaborative partnerships and internationally a push for increased connections between schools and their communities is evident in the research literature. Lastly, to give student voice to USCs data from focus group interviews of pre-service teachers involved in a university-school connection, the LiNKS Program is drawn on. This paper is a contribution to the theme of student voice at the ECE conference.
5th Education in a Changing Environment Conference (ECE 2009). Online Proceedings of the University of Salford 5th Education in a Changing Environment Conference: Critical Voices, Critical Times (Salford, UK 14-16, September, 2009) p. 24-36