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Research and Projects

How can schools best support parents' engagement in their children's learning?

Theme: Evidence for Policy and Practice
Status: Live


Parent engagement refers to parents’ participation in supporting their child’s learning (academic attainment and related learning outcomes), whether at home, in school or via home-school connections and wider community collaborations. School-led activities to engage parents can focus on parenting, communicating, volunteering, family learning, decision-making and collaboration with the community. It is widely recognised that parent engagement in children’s learning is important but schools often struggle to know how best to engage parents, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. 


1) To synthesise the best available international evidence on parental engagement in children’s learning, focusing on:

(a) effective parenting practices that are associated with positive learning outcomes at different stages of children’s development

(b) what schools and early years settings can do to promote and support these activities, particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds

2) To describe what schools in England are currently doing to support parental engagement and show how far this practice matches the current evidence.

The focus will be on practices that specifically support improvements in children’s academic attainment and related learning outcomes, supplemented by other outcomes known to impact on learning (e.g. behaviour). The review will cover early years to secondary school (3-16 years).

Project Activity

Part (1) of the study will involve searching relevant databases using key terms to identify relevant systematic reviews and, for aim 1 (b), more recent randomised controlled trials or quasi-experimental design studies (since the focus is on robust causal evidence of impact). These will be critically appraised and data pertaining to key questions will be extracted (e.g. nature of parent engagement, effect on outcomes, insights into aspects of implementation). The review data will be synthesised narratively; if the included studies are suitable, a quantitative analysis will also be conducted.

Part (2) will entail a survey of a quota sample of ≥100 schools in England regarding what they are doing to engage parents in children’s learning, including how they target their efforts. This will be supplemented by c.20 semi-structured interviews with head teachers and school leads identified via the survey, together with international experts on the subject. The analysis will explore how far existing practice matches what the evidence suggests is effective.

Anticipated Outputs

Collectively, the findings will be used to:

  • identify areas where there is potential for shifting practice towards more evidence-based approaches;

  • generate teacher-facing guidance produced and disseminated by the funder (the Education Endowment Foundation); and

  • inform possible resources that could developed to support schools.


For more information about this project please contact Nick Axford.


Others Involved

Dr Darren Moore, The University of Exeter.


Funded by the Education Endowment Foundation.