Category: parent involvement

Focus on parent involvement and engagement

The past 50 years have seen an increase in the attention given by successive governments to the school-parent relationship. This timeline, drawn from an analysis of over 40 reports, reviews and command papers by the UK government, reveals a gradual shift in emphasis over the period since the publication of The Plowden Report (1967).

The emphasis has gradually shifted, through successive governments and an evolving base of academic research. During that period, the emphasis on parents in government policy interventions has also increased substantially, more than doubling in intensity over the period. During the early 2000s, this reflected the government structural emphasis on “children, schools and families”, but the parental focus, as measured by mentions in policy documents, has remained intense throughout the past 20 years.

A common theme in the research published over the period is the oft-cited gap between “rhetoric” and “practice” when it comes to the school-parent relationship, whether in the form of engagement or involvement. We characterise this as the Parent-Engagement Gap. It has been agreed by academics, practitioners, school leaders and government that this has long been an area in need of improvement: the motivation is there but the conditions required to make this a priority have remained elusive.

The timeline reveals a fascinating evolution of the issue of the school-parent relationship over half a century, characterised by three trends:

  • the push for greater parent involvement in school governance
  • equipping parents with information about their children’s education
  • encouragement and guidance for parents to hold schools accountable.

Timeline of policy interventions on parent involvement and engagement

The Plowden Report (1967)

All schools should have a programme for contact with children's homes. Full report at Education in England.

The 1970s

Prime ministers: Heath, Wilson, Callaghan

A Framework for Expansion (1972)

Nursery provision for all families that want it (3 and 4 year olds).

The Bullock Report (1975)

The addition of home liaison teachers to school staff.

The Taylor Report (1977)

Parents elected to each school’s governing body to make up a quarter of governors and formalise acceptance to school via parent letter.

The Warnock Report (1978)

Parents must be advised, encouraged and supported so that they can in turn effectively help their children.

The 1980s

Prime minister: Thatcher

Green Paper: Parental Influence at School

The Government now intends - while fully respecting the responsibilities of local education authorities - to extend its policies for raising standards in schools by enabling parents to improve the work of the schools.

White Paper: Better Schools

The parents' voice on the governing body will be reinforced by the annual meeting of all parents.

The Elton Report (1989)

Parents have a duty to send their children to school and to encourage them to behave well when they get there.

The 1990s

Prime minsters: Major, Blair

The Rumbold Report (1990)

Early educators may enable parents to take an active part in their children's learning.

White Paper: Choice and Diversity

Under the Parent's Charter, all schools will be required to report to parents at least annually.

Dearing Review (1994)

All involved in education recognise the great benefit to a child's progress that comes from the active support and involvement of parents.

Dearing Review (1996)

The Government should consider the case for governing bodies of schools and colleges reporting on progress against institutional targets as part of the annual report to parents and the wider community.

White Paper: Learning to Compete

In March 1997 the Government will publish primary school performance tables to help parents see how successful local schools are and to push up levels of attainment by exerting pressure on schools to do better

White Paper: Excellence in Schools

Family learning, home-school contracts, regulation of parental information, increase in parent governors.

The 2000s

Prime Ministers: Blair, Brown

White Paper: Schools – Achieving Success

Publish school results for 14-year-olds to reinforce the strategy; and improve information to parents further by publishing information about the value each school adds to its pupils’ results. Legislating to require parents to take greater responsibility for their children’s behaviour and give schools powers to deal with parents who are violent…
Original text

Green Paper: Every Child Matters

The Government puts supporting parents and carers at the heart of its approach to improving children’s lives.

The Steer Report (2005)

All schools should ensure appropriate and adequate delivery of pupil and parent support to meet the objectives of Every Child Matters and to reflect the centrality of behaviour to school standards and improvement processes; recommend the establishment in all schools by September 2007 of a Pupil Parent Support Worker (PPSW)…
Original text

The Children’s Plan

Parents remain the most direct influence on young people’s outcomes, shaping their aspirations and values. We need to work with parents to help ensure that young people benefit from this influence, so that the problems that some parents face are not passed on to young people.

White Paper: New Opportunities – Fair Chances for the Future

We intend to take further steps to raise teaching standards everywhere, to ensure schools get all the support they need from other services, and to ensure parents are centre-stage in their children’s schooling

White Paper: Your Child, Your Schools, Our Future

The Parent Guarantee: every parent will have opportunities, information and support to exercise choice with and on behalf of their child; a Home School Agreement outlining their rights and responsibilities for their child’s schooling; the opportunity, information and support they need to be involved and engaged in their child’s learning…
Original text

The 2010s

Prime Ministers: Cameron, May

White Paper: The Importance of Teaching

Ensure that there is proper assessment of pupils at each vital transitional stage of their education, to provide information to parents about how well their child has done and about the effectiveness of schools. It is vital that schools should be accountable to parents for how well pupils do, and…
Original text

The Tickell Review (2011)

Where parents and carers are actively encouraged to participate confidently in their children’s learning and healthy development, the outcomes for children will be at their best. Recommend that a greater emphasis is given in the EYFS to the role of parents and carers as partners in their children’s learning. To…
Original text

SMCPC: State of the Nation (2013)

Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. A national effort is needed involving parents, communities, employers and schools as well as local and national governments. Helping parents to parent remains the Cinderella of early years services. Successive governments have focused public policy effort on improvements in institutional forms of early years…
Original text

White Paper: Educational Excellence Everywhere

Every parent in this country has a stake in the quality of our education system and our schools; every parent wants the best for their child. Yet parents have not always been at the heart of the system and they have not always had the information they need to challenge…
Original text