Parental engagement

Parental involvement is consistently associated with pupils’ success at school, but the evidence about how to increase involvement to improve attainment is mixed and much less conclusive.

This page presents evidence on parental involvement from the Teaching and Learning Toolkit alongside the results from EEF projects assessing the impact of different parental engagement approaches.

Evidence Summary

The association between parental involvement and a child’s academic success is well established, but evidence on how to actually improve attainment through parental involvement is limited - and existing evidence suggests that it is a considerable challenge.

However, parental involvement in learning may have wider benefits beyond boosting attainment outcomes, and it continues to be a priority for many schools. Teachers and parents involved in recent EEF parental engagement projects have been consistently positive about attempts to improve parental engagement.

A number of EEF projects have focused on improving parental engagement and provide some useful findings for schools.

  • Three completed EEF studies - Mind the Gap, Parenting Academy and Spokes - aimed to engage parents in workshops or training to encourage improved parental engagement. In each case the study found that participation rates were low and that it was difficult to attract and retain the parents who were eligible to attend.
  • In the case of Parent Academy, however, the standard provision was compared with a version which offered parents financial incentives to attend. The incentives improved attendance rates, suggesting they may be an effective way to engage and retain parents in interventions of this type.
  • The studies above, in line with the majority of recent evaluations of parental engagement programmes, did not find evidence of a direct impact on pupil attainment. In contrast, another EEF project, Texting Parents - which aimed to engage parents using text messages about dates of upcoming tests, whether homework was submitted on time, and what their children were learning at school - found a small but significant impact on maths attainment and on decreasing absenteeism. Although the impact is small, the delivery costs are very low (a maximum of around £6 per pupil average over three years). The high cost effectiveness of this approach (particularly compared with the workshop and training provision discussed above) and the easy availability of the technology to schools, makes this a promising approach. 


Our YouTube channel features discussions on the evidence presented in each of the Toolkit strands.