Parental Engagement Overview

What is Parent Engagement?

Parent engagement in schools means parents and school staff working together to support and improve the learning, development and well-being of children and adolescents.

Some North American web sites use involvement and engagement interchangeably. In Australia, “parental involvement” is typically understood as being present at school through activities such as  P&F groups, tuckshop and classroom volunteer programs. In contrast “parental engagement” refers to parents taking an interest in and being involved in their child’s learning.

Defining parental engagement, ARACY (ACT)

Background paper developed by ARACY for the ACT government. Research literature summary. Click here.

Parent engagement (Federal Government)

Website with general resources and information on parent engagement and how parents can support their children to do their best at school. Click here.

Students First: engaging parents in education (Federal Government)

There are a multitude of resources and research papers available through this site. Click here.

Family – School & Community Partnerships Bureau website

This is the bureau formed from a partnership between state school parent groups (Australian Council of State School Organisations, ACCSO) and non-state school parent groups (Australian Parents Council, APC) in Australia. Click here.

Queensland Independent Schools Parents Network (QISPN)

QISPN Executive Officer Sue Kloeden hosted a webinar on parent engagement for a group of Queensland independent schools. Click here.

Parent engagement, Adolescent and School Health (USA)

Several fact sheets, resources for parents and teachers, strategies. Practical overview. Click here.

Who guides us in Parental Engagement?


Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, (ARACY) Parent Engagement Network

This is the peak body funded by the Australian government, supporting parent engagement. Click here.

NSW, Parents Council provides an online course for teachers: Parents and schools working together

A webinar series designed to help parents and schools work together more effectively. Click here.

Australian Parents Council provides a Certificate 3 in parent engagement. Click here.

Cathy Quinn, Certificate 4. Click here.


Harvard Family Research Program

Led by Dr Karen Mapps, this is a leading research group into parent involvement in schools (note that in the USA involvement and engagement are often interchangeable. Click here.

National Network of Partnership Schools.

Based at John Hopkins University and led by Dr Joyce Epstein, this is a network of schools striving to improve student learning through parent teacher partnerships. This website provides NNPS members with updated information, research results, and ideas for action from the NNPS staff and members across the country. The site also informs prospective members about NNPS approaches, benefits, and services. Click here.

How parents can help their children succeed at school. People for Education (Toronto)

An article outlining four key steps for parents to help their children at school: Having high expectations, talking about school, developing positive attitudes and work habits, and reading together. Click here.

Parental engagement: a training toolkit full of useful resources for supporting parents with complex needs

A resource that has been developed for staff responsible for professional development within schools. It provides them with interactive training materials to support and encourage parents to engage effectively with their child’s learning within their school community. Click here.

Parental Engagement Research


Parent engagement: the current research, Circle education: How can schools engage with parents in ways that will benefit student learning? Dr Jenny Povey and Dr Linda Willis

A short blog article that identifies ways for schools to improve parental engagement. Click here.

Changing the conversation between teachers and parents, Professor Bill Lucas 3 Sep 2015

A UK article outlining simple pointers for how parents and teachers can focus on the 7 C’s: Confidence, Curiosity, Conviviality, Communication, Creativity, Commitment and Craftsmanship. Click here.

Research for Teachers #1 parent engagement; Debbie Pushor

An article outlining research findings on parental engagement and three steps: 1) Adopt a definition of parental engagement 2) Pay attention to the knowledge parents and families hold and 3) Use the knowledge from parents and families to engage with parents. Click here.

Parental involvement to parental engagement: a continuum; Janet Goodall and Caroline Montgomery Education review 2014

This article traces a continuum between parental involvement with schools, and parental engagement with children’s learning. It seeks to shed light on an area of confusion; previous research has shown that different stakeholder groups understand “parental engagement” in different ways. The greatest benefit is derived from the furthest end of the proposed continuum, that is, parental engagement with children’s learning. The continuum gives examples of each stage of the movement along the continuum and is illustrated not only in prose but as a diagram. Click here.

Parent engagement, Adolescent and School Health (USA)

Several fact sheets, resources for parents and teachers, strategies. Practical overview. Click here.

Three Lessons in Developing a Systemic Approach to Family Engagement Allison Rowland © 2016

In San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), a district of more than 131,000 students and the second-largest in California, Alison facilitated the development of a systemic approach to family engagement over the course of the 2015–2016 school year. In collaboration with Superintendent Cindy Marten; the Parent Outreach and Engagement Department; and family leaders, educators, and community partners, they developed a systemic framework with four dimensions. They integrated the framework with the work of instruction rather than as a separate initiative. Click here.


Education Capital: Our evidence base defining parental engagement

An ACT Government report that outlines a consistent definition for parents and teachers to have a shared language on parental engagement, why it is important and its positive effects on children’s long-term outcomes. Click here.

Education Capital: Progressing parental engagement

Nine key points outlining the important role parents play in children’s learning, the difference in parent involvement and engagement, and strategies that work at home and school. Click here.

Education Capital: Measuring parental engagement

A report from ARACY (Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth) that provides an evidence based understanding of parental engagement – what it is, why it matters, and how best to foster it. There is also a survey instrument for schools to use to measure parental engagement. Click here for pdf. Click here.

Strengthening family and community engagement in student learning resource, (Federal) PowerPoint. 

A resource designed to assist school communities to reflect on and strengthen family and community engagement in student learning. It incorporates a new School Assessment Tool (Reflection Matrix) to support school planning processes. The tool helps schools to reflect on and decide where they are placed on a continuum of engagement and where work can be celebrated and further developed. Click here.

A summary of sources of difference in academic achievement in students of the same age

A one page overview of the factors that can determine differences in academic achievement in children and what impact these may have. Click here.

Australian Parents Council has been involved in many research projects; they are available from this site, including:

  • What is parent engagement? Why is it important? Click here.
  • Parent engagement in learning and schooling, lessons from research Click here.
  • What do parents say when it comes to teachers, schools and family school partnerships? Click here.
  • Social and economic effects of parent engagement. Click here.

These are all Australian based research papers.

Parental engagement in learning and schooling: lessons from research; Family School and Community partnerships Bureau 2012

A synopsis report of the published literature on parental engagement in both the home and school environments. The evidence identifies those approaches which have the greatest influence and impact on student outcomes. The report concludes that positive parental engagement in student learning leads to improved academic achievement, wellbeing and productivity. Click here.

Engaging parents in schools and building parent school partnerships: the role of school and parent organisation leadership; Jenny Povey et al April 2016

Report discussing the research which that a positive school climate and Principal leadership are pivotal to building parent-school partnerships and supporting parent engagement in child learning more generally. Findings from surveys distributed to Principals and Presidents of parent organisations in 1,233 Queensland State (i.e. government or public) Schools are evaluated. Click here.

Engaging parents in raising achievement Do parents know they matter? Professor Alma Harris, Dr Janet Goodall University of Warwick 2007

A UK research report on parental involvement and parental engagement outlining the impacts, the value of, barriers and implications. Click here.