Parent Engagement in Schools

Clear, consistent evidence over the past five decades has shown that when parents are engaged in their children’s school education, the better academic, social, and emotional outcomes their children are likely to have. However, little is known about which engagement strategies and practices are the most effective, why some parents are disengaged with school, and the role that Principals can play in engaging parents in student learning through their leadership styles.

To investigate these issues, The University of Queensland (UQ), P&Cs Qld, and the Queensland Department of Education and Training (DET) are collecting data on parent-school-community engagement in Queensland State Schools through the Parent Engagement in Schools (PES) project using a multi-phase approach.

Parent-School-Community Engagement

Parent-school-community engagement refers to schools, parents, and the community working together to maximise student learning and wellbeing. Effective engagement creates authentic relationships considered valuable and valued by each partner.


The project’s key aims are to:

  • Investigate the levels of parent-school-community engagement across Queensland State Schools and the culture around engagement in schools.
  • Investigate the roles that the Principal and school leadership and a positive school climate play in encouraging parent-school-community engagement.
  • Identify effective parent-school-community engagement strategies and practices in disadvantaged schools relevant to their unique situations and contexts.
  • Identify effective strategies and practices to improve and strengthen parent-school-community engagement in Queensland State Schools.
  • Facilitate the successful transfer of effective engagement strategies and practices between Principals/schools.


For all general enquiries, please contact Project Manager, ISSR: Dr Jenny Povey (

Phase I PES Project 2014

In August 2014, all Principals and P&C Association Presidents in Queensland State Schools were invited to participate in the research and complete online surveys. The findings from this research provided insights into the role that those in leadership positions, such as Principals, play in parent-school-community engagement.  

Phase II Horizon 2016-2017

Phase II Horizon 2016-2017 investigated Principal leadership for parent-school-community engagement in disadvantaged schools. The research was conducted in four disadvantaged schools that appeared to be engaging parents effectively, which were identified from the survey data in Phase I PES 2014. Teachers and parents at these schools were invited to complete surveys and participate in focus groups, and members of the school leadership team were interviewed.  Findings from this phase of the research provided learnings and insights into the variety and range of strategies and practices that assisted these Principals to implement and/or strengthen engagement with parents and their school communities.

Phase III Horizon 2017-2019

Phase III Horizon 2017-2019 extends the previous phases to investigate eight additional schools – six of which were identified from the original data-driven research (Phase I PES 2014) and two were recommended by P&Cs Qld. These additional schools include advantaged and disadvantaged schools. Data collection will involve interviews with each school’s Principal and P&C President. The research team will subsequently approach a selection of these schools to conduct focussed research on key parent-school-community engagement strategies that are identified. The findings will lead to the development of: 1) a Professional Development Online Module and 2) a Parent Engagement Toolkit (PET) for use by school leaders, teachers, preservice teachers, P&Cs, and parents. The PET will include videos, photographs, tip sheets, case studies, infographics, vignettes, and publications illustrative of effective parent-school-community engagement strategies and practices obtained throughout Phases II and III of the project. Eight schools that have not participated in the research to date will pilot the PET to identify the usefulness of the information and resources so the toolkit can be refined and made available for broader school use.


Preliminary results presented at the P&C Conference 12 September 2014:

Summary findings sent the Queensland State Schools and DET:

Working papers published in the LCC Working Paper Series: 2016-07:

Peer reviewed journal articles:

PHASE II HORIZON 2016 - 2017

Preliminary findings presented at the Parent Engagement Conference - Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARCAY) Melbourne 6-8 June 2017:

Posters presented at the DET Research Showcase 2017: Make an Impact! 14 November 2017:

Summary findings sent to DET:

Case studies document:

Dr Linda Willis, Chief Investigator,
School of Education,
The University Of Queensland



Dr Jenny Povey, Chief Investigator,
Institute for Social Science Research,
The University of Queensland



Dr Julie Hodges, Chief Investigator,
School of Psychology,
The University Of Queensland



Professor Annemaree Carroll, Chief Investigator,
School of Education,
The University Of Queensland



Dr Emma Antrobus, Chief Investigator,
School of Social Science,
The University of Queensland



Professor Mark Western, Chief Investigator,
Institute for Social Science Research,
The University of Queensland



Dr Sarah Bennett, Chief Investigator,

School of Social Science,
The University of Queensland



Not pictured:

Mr Kevan Goodworth, Partner Investigator,
P&Cs Qld