Release date: 26/11/2021

Guidance to equip governing boards to engage with parents has been published today [26 November] by the National Governance Association (NGA) and Parentkind.

The guidance is designed to support both boards and executive leaders as they explore strategic approaches to engaging with parents across the whole organisation. It builds on Parentkind’s Blueprint for parent friendly schools, a framework based on extensive research into how schools can embed parental participation through five key drivers, including ‘Leadership, Ethos and Resources’.

Data from NGA’s latest annual governance survey confirms that many boards are engaging with parents, despite disruption due to the pandemic. In the 2021 survey 76% of respondents said their board monitors the results of parent or carer surveys and 72% of respondents stating that their school(s) provided support for parents in engaging with their child’s learning at home. The pandemic primarily affected face to face engagement. Just 14% of respondents said their boards met with parent forums/councils while 33% said they had been prevented in doing so by COVID-19, similarly 22% of respondents said they attended parents evening, while 61% said they would have if not for the pandemic.  

The guidance aims to support conversations between boards and leaders by providing example engagement methods to use and plans boards can implement to support and influence the school’s parental engagement strategy. It also looks at the barriers to engagement as well as how boards can monitor the impact of their approach.

Forming part of NGA’s work to support governing boards undertake meaningful stakeholder engagement, which NGA recognises as the fourth core function of governance, the guide emphasises that engaging with parents “can offer governing boards rich and diverse insight into school life, ethos and culture” and demonstrates how parental participation supports pupil outcomes.

Read the guidance

Emma Knights, Chief Executive, National Governance Association said, “During the COVID pandemic schools demonstrated how they are such an important part of family life and the local community; many governing boards are reporting how the school’s credibility has grown amongst parents. National Governance Association research shows that while many boards are proactive in obtaining the experiences and views of parents, this is not yet universal. Engaging stakeholders should be a corner stone of good governance; boards need to understand the range of perceptions of stakeholders when making decisions. This guidance produced with Parentkind, the experts in the field, should support trusts and schools to improve this practice building on the goodwill and interest of parents as communities open up again.”

John Jolly, CEO, Parentkind said, "Collaborating with the National Governance Association on this project has been rewarding and fruitful. The joint guidance resulting from this partnership provides governing boards with advice for effective governance when it comes to engaging with their diverse parent communities. Just as crucially, they will understand the power of parental participation in both helping to create a welcoming school culture and climate whilst giving every pupil the opportunity to reach their potential. Parents and carers want to participate in school life and play an active role in their children’s education, make meaningful contributions and have their voices heard. All of this can be achieved by adopting Parentkind's Blueprint for Parent-Friendly Schools, which will help governing boards to overcome any remaining barriers to engagement and ensure that every parent is on board."

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