Tips to boost engagement with parents and other stakeholders

Find strategies to help improve communication and strengthen engagement with parents, carers and other stakeholders.

Last reviewed on 29 April 2024See updates
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Contents
  1. Why stakeholder engagement matters
  2. Assess current stakeholder engagement
  3. Improve governor engagement with the school community
  4. Monitor your leaders' strategy
  5. MATs: establish the role of trustees and local governing bodies (LGBs)

Terminology

We've referred to the 'headteacher' and the 'school' within the body of this article, but the information is just as applicable to a trust. If you're a trustee, you will likely have conversations about stakeholder engagement with the executive leader of your trust. That could be the CEO or executive headteacher.

We've also got some specific advice for multi-academy trusts (MATs), where appropriate. 

Why stakeholder engagement matters

Your board and your school's leaders will make the best decisions about your school when you're taking the views and needs of key stakeholders into account. 

In maintained schools, there's an expectation that the governing body will build relationships with stakeholders and that you will have systems in place to communicate regularly with them. In terms of decision making, your board should consider the views of the school's key stakeholders, particularly parents and carers. This is set out in sections 2.3 and 2.7 of the maintained schools governance guide.

In academy trusts, trust boards should oversee strategic relationships with parents, schools, communities – and, where applicable, dioceses and religious authorities – to help make sure that decision-making is supported by meaningful engagement. This also helps to create a sense of trust and shared ownership. This is outlined in section 1 of the academy trust governance guide and on page 11 of the DfE's trust quality descriptions document.

Parental engagement is especially important

Effective engagement with parents can have a big impact on children’s learning.

It's your board's responsibility to make sure your school/trust has an effective strategy for engaging meaningfully with parents and carers, to:

  • Inform strategic decision making
  • Support parents to understand the structure of the school/trust and how it operates
  • Help parents support their children's education

Assess current stakeholder engagement

Your chair should lead on monitoring your school's engagement with stakeholders, though they can delegate this. 

Check what strategies are already in place

Ask the right questions

Set stakeholder engagement as an objective

Improve governor engagement with the school community

Take steps to improve the board's own communication with parents, carers and other stakeholders. See examples below.

Send out a governors' report to parents and carers

Raise the board's profile

Check your website is informative and being kept up to date

Consider creating a communications committee

Monitor your leaders' strategy

Below are some practical ideas your school leaders might want to consider implementing.

Remember, your role here is to oversee the strategy, not get involved in operational detail – but it's important to have an understanding of good practice so you can monitor effectively.

Having a home-school communication policy

Sending out surveys

Establishing a parent council

Setting up an informal parent forum

Running events

Other ways to improve parental engagement

MATs: establish the role of trustees and local governing bodies (LGBs)

If you're in a MAT, you should know who has responsibility for monitoring engagement with stakeholders. This could be done at school level if your trust has LGBs/local committees, as they'll have a better understanding of the needs of the stakeholders in their local community. Information on who's responsible will be in your scheme of delegation.

Sources

Jeremy Bird has extensive experience of primary headship. He has also worked with local authorities and published guidance for new and aspiring headteachers and senior leaders.

 

Article Updates

24 April 2024

We updated this article to reflect the maintained schools governance guide and the academy trust governance guide, published on 7 March 2024, and the withdrawal of the governance competency framework.

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