Knowing your school - Engaging Parents


New guidance out now

Parents are key stakeholders and their involvement in schools has a major influence on their children's achievement. This briefing note, written in partnership with PTA UK, aims to help governors and trustees understand why parents are so important and how the school can effectively engage them.


In order to govern effectively, boards need to know their schools: this is one of NGA’s eight elements of effective governance. Engaging with parents is an excellent way for governors and trustees to get to know their school; its strengths, weaknesses and its community. A governing board will want to solicit the views of parents to inform its strategic planning and give parents the opportunity to help shape their child’s education, as well as being reflective about school performance and its own effectiveness. A governing board should not have all its information provided by school leaders: Ofsted recommends three sources of evidence and NGA supports this approach.

Governing boards should do everything they can to ensure parents’ views are gathered and acted upon appropriately and that the results are reported. This does not mean the governing board always gathers the information itself but it may mean that for some purposes it will be governors and trustees who directly engage with parents.

Emma Williams, Executive Director of PTA UK said: "Parents absolutely want a say in how their child is educated and on other school policies that affect their family. It’s clearly important that there are opportunities for school governors and trustees to listen to parents and I am delighted that PTA UK and the National Governors’ Association have been able to share, in this guidance note, some tried and tested tools to help you do this well."

It can be tricky to establish and maintain a relationship with parents and we very much want to learn from schools that are doing this well. So if you have a story to tell, please do get in touch. The National Governors’ Association aims to improve the quality of school governance by supporting, advising and training governors, trustees and clerks. If your school is not a member, please consider joining:

What's inside?

  • Why are parents important?
  • It's about ethos: engaging and involving parents
  • What do you want to know from parents?
  • Measuring performance
  • Ways to survey and inform parents
  • Acting on results
Download the briefing note: Knowing your School: Engaging Parents (pdf)


In March 2016 the Government published its vision for education in England with the white paper: Educational Excellence Everywhere. This has generated considerable debate, especially around the role and future of parent governors. While the white paper spelled out the Government’s expectation that academies engage meaningfully with parents, it also proposed the removal of the requirement for reserved places for elected parents on the boards of academy trusts. NGA and many other organisations are against this proposed removal and are urging the government to abandon the idea.

For those who use social media, we’re using the hashtag: #keepparentsgoverning with the support of PTA-UK and Parent Councils UK. To find out more, visit: