Last Updated: Friday, February 26, 2021

Breaking down barriers to parental involvement and engagement - St Mark’s Primary School – East Renfrewshire

What is this?

​​​​​​This practice exemplar describes some of the ways in which St Mark’s Primary School engages and involves parents and families in the life of the school​.

Who is this for?

​This exemplar will be useful for primary schools looking to improve parental involvement and engagement.​

​How to use this exemplar to improve practice?

​This exemplar along with the reflective questions can be used to help you consider your own approach to involving and engaging parents and families in their child's education. You are invited to read the exemplar and sway presentation then consider, individually or as a team, the following reflective questions:

​​Reflective questions:

  • What opportunities do you provide for parents and families to engage in the life of the school?
  • What approaches do you take to promote genuine partnerships with parents and families?
  • How do you seek the views of parents and families on how they would like to be involved in their child's learning?
  • Are there specific barriers preventing parents and families from engaging with the school?
  • How effectively do you support parents and families to participate in, contribute to and understand their child's learning?

Related link

Sway presentation: Parental Involvement and Engagement in St Mark's​​ Primary

Explore this exemplar​

What was done?​

The school started by issuing a questionnaire with parents to gauge their views on parental involvement and engagement and the ways in which they would like to be involved in the school. Data from the questionnaires was collated and shared with parents and it helped inform an action plan which focused on increasing parental involvement and engagement in their child’s learning.

Parents and staff identified that creating a family room would be advantageous for a variety of reasons:

  • a ​dedicated space where parents could take ownership and work in partnership with staff to develop a sense of belonging and take forward some of the planned actions
  • an informal space to hold parental workshops, events and meetings​ for parents, children and families and also reviews for children.

Parents informed the school that they needed more notice for events so a calendar of forthcoming parental engagement events was created and disseminated in a variety of formats to give parents early notification of these.

The school provided opportunities for parents and families to volunteer in the school in a variety of different ways and times throughout the day. Views were sought throughout the process and amendments made where necessary.

The senior leadership team:

  • ensured that parents knew them by their first names
  • had a relentless focus in engaging with parents – e.g. in the playground, at every event and throughout the school day
  • canvassed parents to get them to follow the school’s Twitter account​


Findings from the school’s ongoing self-evaluation procedures highlighted parental involvement and engagement as an area for further development.

Engaging and involving parents has been a key feature of the school’s ethos but historically it has been difficult to engage parents in their child's learning and life of the school outwith the school context. ​Thinking creatively about new ways to involve and engage parents and families was necessary to overcome these challenges.

Additionally, East Renfrewshire Council have their own Parenting Strategy and as part of that all Early Learning and Childcare Centres and primary schools take part in an audit called Family Centred Approaches. Establishments work through the 3 levels along with staff, pupils and parents to achieve these levels to help make their establishments more family centred.

What was the impact?

The school is able to evidence:

  • Increased parental involvement and engagement in their children’s learning and at school events
  • Improved parental support to help their child’s learning at home
  • Improved parental partnerships
  • More meaningful engagement in the classroom environment as a result of parental involvement
  • Greater number of parent volunteers
  • Increased parental confidence to engage with the school
  • Parents and practitioners using the family room for a variety of reasons including a homework club (run by parents), parenting workshops (run by staff), family focus sessions (run by social work and staff from cluster secondary school)
  • ​Reduction in barriers to parental involvement and engagement​