Social inclusion, multi-agency projects in education in the United Kingdom increasingly seek to work with participation from children, families and communities and through partnerships with other agencies. In this paper, the complexities of such developments are examined. The paper looks at the wider context of preventative and social inclusion projects and highlights the ways in which schools tend to be the dominant locus of communication, delivery and control in the early stages of project implementation. Schools are seen to be valuable conduits into the community, to have the potential to begin capacity-building with isolated individuals and to forge informal networks. This presents significant challenges to project and school managers, working towards genuinely empowering multi-agency preventative work and support. A 'special relationship' embracing schools, projects and community appears the most productive way forward for such projects.