This article reports on the findings of a small-scale study that explores the co-ordination of external partners into schools and the realities of being involved in this work. The study used one-to-one interviews to explore the perceptions of four school teaching/support staff and 15 external partners from different sectors attached to four schools in England. The findings reveal how the range of co-ordinating roles introduced by government policies are creating a complexity that external partners have to navigate. The focus on academic outcomes and reduced budgets means that the school is perceived as an invited space where external partner access is controlled. The findings highlight how the external partners had their own co-ordinators who were working in parallel to the school-based co-ordinators to overcome these challenges. To connect with schools the external partners highlighted the need to find a decision-maker who might exist in addition to a co-ordinator. Despite capacity concerns in the literature, it was felt the involvement of a headteacher as the co-ordinator was beneficial for quality, value for money and checking of ethos. The conclusion argues that the co-ordinating roles within external partners need to be recognised together with the challenges they are facing when attempting to access schools. Those involved in this work in schools and external partners need to be the right person with shared values and a mutual understanding of the benefit of this work.