The Parent Participation Handbook: A practical guide to maximizing parental involvement in your school


The Parent Participation Handbook: A practical guide to maximizing parental invo
Primary, Secondary
Jul 2011


"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 breakdown

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:

  • Research
  • 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 Councils
    • Parent Forums
    • Parent Class Meetings
    • Parent Representatives
    • Parent Action Groups
    • Focus 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:

  • Clarifying aims
  • 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
  • Action planning.

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
  • Key enablers
  • Overcoming barriers

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:

  • Denmark
  • The Netherlands
  • Australia
  • USA

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.


A4 ring binder, 200 pages
Accompanying CD-ROM

1 x enhanced PDF eBook with -
1 x PowerPoint Presentaion
10 x Microsoft Word templates / adaptable exemplars
10 x PDF templates / adaptable exemplars 


Books and training products: Titles in stock will be fulfilled within 15 working days. If you have pre-ordered a forthcoming title, you will receive it as soon as it is available.

eBooks and digital products: After making your order, you will shortly receive another email containing easy instructions on how to download your eBook(s) and digital products. To access, log in to your account and follow the instructions below:

  1. Go to your Dashboard in the top right hand corner
  2. Click 'Customise Dasboard'
  3. Drag the 'My eBooks' module down to your dashboard.
  4. Click 'Done'

You can now view and access all purchased ebooks from this block. If you can not see your order please email

See more from...