"A school’s work with parents makes a difference to how it responds to pupils’ needs and supports their learning and progress. We propose to consider the quality of a school’s work with parents in the judgement on leadership and management."
Inspection 2012 - Proposals for inspection arrangements for maintained schools and academies from January 2012 – For consultation, Ofsted, March 2011
The recent Schools White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, and the proposed Ofsted inspection framework for 2012 strongly indicate a desire for schools to work more closely with parents, families and the community to build a positive learning environment for all pupils. Working together with parents can help you to achieve the best outcomes for all children at your school.
In a time of massive change in the school system and huge pressure on budgets, it is essential for schools to fill rolls. It is therefore vital to provide the school that local parents want. The Parent Participation Handbook is a practical and relevant resource for headteachers, leadership teams and other professionals involved in encouraging parents to participate more fully in school life and ensure that your school reflects the parental demand.
The Parent Participation Handbook will support schools to develop a genuine partnership with parents, carers and families so that school staff can work with them to achieve the best outcomes for children and young people and for local communities.
The Parent Participation Handbook is a comprehensive resource that will:
Outline the benefits of engaging parents in school activities
Give parents a voice in school decision making
Develop tools of communication between schools and families
Explain how to start an active parent council
Provide methods of assessment to ensure successful participation.
Summary of contents
The aim of this handbook is to provide advice on successfully involving parents in all aspects of their children’s education. By nurturing a positive relationship with families, schools can achieve the best outcomes for both their pupils and the local community.
The Parent Participation Handbook will enable you to:
ensure your school is offering what parents, pupils and community want
benefit from the wide range of skills and experience offered by the parental body
increase pupil attainment by involving parents in learning
Chapter 1: Making the case
This chapter sets out the reasons why parental involvement is of central importance to children and to schools, drawing on research findings and referring to legislation and government policy in this area. Its sections include:
Barriers to parental involvement
Legislation and Government policy
The School Inspection Framework
Chapter 2: From parental involvement to genuine collaboration
All schools work with parents at some level but do they see parents as genuine partners? This chapter discusses the shift from providing parents with information to giving parents a voice in school decision making. Examples of different structures to encourage participation are given. This chapter includes:
Examples of parent involvement
Moving towards collaboration: some definitions
Parent Class Meetings
Parent Action Groups
Parent Teacher Associations
Chapter 3: Communication and consultation
Home/school communication is a two-way process and in order to reach as many parents as possible a variety of communication methods need to be used. The importance of effective consultation is covered and the following areas are addressed:
What is right for our school?
How and whom should we consult?
Methods of communication
Reaching out to all parents
Carrying out a consultation
Making the decision
Setting up a steering group or working party
Linking with other bodies.
Chapter 4: Getting started
This chapter focuses on the nuts and bolts of starting a parent council, parent forum or other such body and looks at the value of class meetings. It will address:
Agreeing how to work together
Membership and representation
The different roles
Responsibilities of the Governing Body and senior leadership
The first meeting
Developing class parent meetings.
Chapter 5: Moving forward
After setting up a new body to give parents a voice, the challenge is to maintain the momentum. Suggestions as to how the work can be developed and then embedded in the life of the school are offered. This chapter will consider:
Different types of meeting
Formalising the Parent Council or Parent Forum
Drawing up a constitution
Keeping the momentum going
Chapter 6: Sustaining success
In order to build on success it is important to reflect on progress and evaluate the work. This chapter looks at different ways of assessing impact and as well as reflecting on the factors which contribute to success and the key barriers for different groups. It will cover:
Reflection and evaluation
Chapter 7: Supporting the work
Different activities are included in this chapter to help senior leaders, teaching staff, governors and parents build their confidence in taking this work forward.
Chapter 8: Case studies
Case studies from a number of secondary schools, primary schools and local authorities show how the parent participation agenda is being taken forward in different settings.
Chapter 9: Examples from overseas
There are a number of other countries in Europe and further afield which offer interesting and valuable perspectives on working in partnership with parents and a range of examples are included. These include:
Websites and resources
A CD-Rom is also included with this resource which includes materials which can be downloaded, amended and used. The following documents can be found on the CD-Rom:
Community skills audit
Audit of parental involvement
Parent participation survey
Parent council role cards
Parent forum feedback form
Sample parent council constitution
Community learning questionnaire
Roles and responsibilities of school staff
Powerpoint presentation: developing parent participation within school.