Swotly - Parental Involvement versus Parental Engagement

    Parental Involvement versus Parental Engagement

    Parental involvement versus parental engagement – what’s the difference?

    Involvement/engagement – surely, they’re the same aren’t they? Although the terms ‘parental involvement’ and ‘parental engagement’ are often used interchangeably, they are different.

    Harris et al (2009) point out that, “Parents can be involved in school activities without being engaged in their children’s learning”. They continue, “Parental engagement occurs where parents are actively involved in supporting learning in the home”.

    Parental involvement can be thought of as being activities that are mainly driven by schools and mostly occur in school. Examples of involvement might include:

    • parents coming into school to provide information about a student

    • attending parents’ evenings, meetings, or adult education classes in school

    • schools providing information to support learning in the home

    Parental involvement can be the starting point for engagement. Involvement brings parents into the school environment – both physically and virtually. But, as Harris et al (2009) state, “it is engagement with learning that is the ultimate goal.”.

    Shifting from involvement to engagement

    As mentioned in our introduction to this guide, Swotly supports parents with children in secondary school onwards.

    Educators, parents, and children who’ve transitioned from primary to secondary schools will know that opportunities for “involvement” decrease as children enter and progress through secondary school.

    Therefore, shifting from a culture of involvement to engagement is even more important at this stage in education.


    Parental involvement and parental engagement are different. Parental involvement can lead to successful parental engagement.

    Find out more about parental engagement next week.


    Harris, A., Andrew-Power, K. and Goodall, J. (2009) Do Parents Know They Matter? Raising Achievement through Parental Engagement. London: Continuum

    Tags: Parental Engagement

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