What is this?

​Find resources that have been designed to support parents, schools and communities to access current Scottish, UK and international research and evidence around what works to support effective family engagement strategies.

The focus is on engaging with vulnerable families and those living in our most deprived communities with a view to raising attainment and achievement of all and closing the inequity gap in educational outcomes.

Who is this for?

​This will be most relevant for practitioners delivering family learning and parental engagement outcomes such as those working in schools, CLD, the Third Sector, early years etc.

How to use this exemplar to improve practice?

Using these reflective questions will support you to consider your own approach to engaging and supporting children and their families to become involved in their children’s learning:

  • How effectively do we use current available data about levels of poverty in our community to help us involve parents in decision making?
  • How effectively do you encourage parents to support their child’s learning in literacy and numeracy? In what ways could this be developed further?
  • Are parents involved school improvement planning?
  • How well are parents involved in reviewing school policies and procedures?
  • Are parents involved in the recruitment of senior staff?
  • Are appropriate family learning programmes arranged in collaboration with parental needs?
  • What evidence do we have that family learning is improving the life chances of the families involved?
  • Are outcomes for children improving as a result of their participation in family learning? How do we know?
  • Are outcomes for children improving as a result of parental involvement in decision-making?

Explore this resource

Did you know....?

Family engagement in school has a bigger influence on a pupil's achievement than socio-economic background, parents education level, family structure and ethnicity...

Understanding Barriers

There are many reasons why parents might not be engaged in their child’s education and it is important that schools and parents work together to identify what the barriers are and how they can be overcome.


PDF file: Understanding Barriers (138 KB)

What are the outcomes of effective family engagement?

Family engagement in children’s learning is only one factor of many that influences their educational attainment; however, it is particularly significant, and evidence suggests that among the non-school factors of school achievement like socio-economic background, parents’ educational attainment, family structure, ethnicity and parental engagement, it is the latter which is the most strongly connected to achievement and attainment.

The following infographic provides an evidence based summary of the outcomes which can arise from engaging effectively with families.


PDF file: Engaging with families poster (3.3 MB)

Supporting vulnerable families

Children growing up in poorer families tend to emerge from school with substantially lower levels of educational attainment. This is a major contributing factor to patterns of social mobility and poverty.


PDF file: Supporting vulnerable families (233 KB)

Supporting the home learning environment

Parents play a critical role in promoting academic success through parent-school involvement, stimulation of cognitive growth at home, and promotion of values consistent with academic achievement, and this is another area where the gap between the most and least advantaged may be obvious.


PDF file: Supporting the home learning environment (186 KB)

Social, Emotional and Behavioural Support

The important role of social-emotional learning in school success is an expanding body of educational and psychological research. Parental engagement and family-focused competency building are the primary means by which to support children’s social, emotional, and behavioural well-being.


PDF file: Social, Emotional and Behavioural Support (52 KB)

Engaging with fathers

The more recent surge in interest in father involvement in children’s outcomes clearly extends to fathers’ engagement in children’s learning . However, there continues to be a relative scarcity of father-specific evaluations, reviews, and services, as most of the programmes and literature specifies ‘parents’.


PDF file: Engaging with fathers (228 KB)

Looked After Children and Their Carers

The well-being of children in care can present particular difficulties, as a significant number of children come from deprived and disadvantaged backgrounds compounded by neglect, maltreatment and domestic violence.


PDF file: Looked After Children and their carers (182 KB)

Funding - Know your project

Many of these projects can benefit from external funding, as well as support from the wider local community.
This guidance will help schools and partners find out what funding is available, helping to ensure a project has the very best chance of success.


PDF file: Funding - Know your project (181 KB)

PDF file: Identify funding opportunities (373 KB)

PDF file: Applying for funding (112 KB)

Collaboration with the community

Does your school coordinate resources and services for families and pupils with the wider community, including third sector organisations?


PDF file: Collaboration with the community (272 KB)

Decision making

Parent organisations, councils and committees are an excellent means of involving parents in the decision-making of the school. It is useful to ensure that a wide variety of parents from different backgrounds are included to ensure these views are representative.


PDF file: Decision making (179 KB)

Learning at home

Does your school give information and advice on the curriculum and how parents can help their children?


PDF file: Supporting learning at home - case studies (363 KB)