Guidance for governing boards setting out the importance of parental engagement has been published by the National Governance Association (NGA) and Parentkind, combining the two organisations’ extensive expertise.
‘Knowing your school’ is one of NGA’s eight elements of effective governance, and engaging with parents is an excellent way for governors/trustees to get to know their school; its strengths, weaknesses and community. Having open, two-way conversations with parents about their child’s school is therefore imperative to achieving this.
Three short sections of the free guidance cover:
- Why engaging with and involving parents is key to good governance
- Becoming a parent-friendly school
- Enabling parents to inform strategic leadership and decisions
Explaining how engaging parents can help boards deliver good governance, the guidance cites holding executive leaders to account; shaping the school’s culture, vision and strategy; and being accountable to the community as areas which are supported. Additionally, it can prevent building tensions between parents and the board, and facilitate good decision making.
In some instances those governing should engage directly with parents to gather, report and act upon their views, however boards also need to ensure a parent-friendly culture in their school and that teachers and other school staff have the correct skills and tools to engage with parents, according to the guidance.
Practical methods that boards can use to generate a productive dialogue with a broad cross-section of parents are included in the guidance, which also reminds those governing of their statutory duties on communicating with parents. The guidance concludes with a set of questions which those governing can use to ask themselves and executive leaders about parental engagement in their school/trust, and shares success stories from schools that have effectively employed some of the methods.
Introducing stakeholder engagement as the fourth core function of governing boards to ensure the voices of stakeholders are heard and taken in to account in the decision making process is a long-standing policy of NGA. The school governance in 2018 survey found that only 17% of respondents opposed the addition of this responsibility to their board’s core functions.
Emma Knights, chief executive of National Governance Association said: “Boards often tell us that they find engaging with parents difficult, yet listening and working well with all school stakeholders is a key part of the board’s role to deliver effective governance. Principal among these is the parent community. The participation of parents is an important aspect of school governance which provides boards with key insights into their school(s), ensures they demonstrate transparency and improves decision making, as they are not then relying solely upon information from senior leaders about performance. It also helps to create a culture of working in partnership with parents to deliver the best educational outcomes for every pupil. I hope that governors and trustees will find this guidance useful, and that it will put parental engagement firmly on the agenda of their discussions.”
John Jolly, chief executive of Parentkind said: “It's a great pleasure to see the release of this guidance for those in school governance to successfully engage with parents and carers. It marks another successful collaboration between Parentkind and our friends at the National Governance Association, and our shared vision of all school governing boards engaging meaningfully with its stakeholders, which of course includes parents. We are sure that the guidance will be valued by present and future school governors and trustees, equipping them with knowledge of the best parental engagement practice, as well as an understanding of why it’s an essential ingredient in creating and maintaining a thriving school community.”
Read the guidance here.
To share best practice we would like to hear from governing boards, and particularly those governing multi-academy trusts, about their examples of successful approaches to parental engagement.