What do you want to achieve?
The Parent Council is what you and the Parent Forum want to make of it. Parents can decide
what is most important for you to work on at
The main functions of your Parent Council are to:
- Support the school in its work with pupils and parents
- Represent the views of parents
- Promote contact and communication between the school, parents, pupils, the community, nursery and other providers
- Report to the Parent Forum.
Agreeing your priorities
Once you have your basic arrangements worked out - see the leaflet in this pack called 'Getting Started' - the next step is to agree as a group what you want to achieve and the different ways you want to work.
- If you haven't already done so, you may want to carry out a survey of parents' views to discover what their priorities are.
- Does the school development/improvement plan identify any issues that need further discussion with parents or ideas for activities, fundraising and joint working with the school?
- You may want to think about what you can do to support activities already planned and the work of the headteacher and staff.
- Some parent groups have found it useful to develop their own plan for a year ahead linking in with what will be happening in the school.
You don't have to do everything all at once! Be realistic in what you think you can achieve and prioritise the issues that you work on. Take it one step at a time and don't overstretch yourselves.
Once you have agreed your priorities you will want to think about how you are going to achieve them. You may divide into subgroups or try to gain the support of other parents and involve them in specific activities.
Ideas to support parents
In discussions with the headteacher at the Parent Council meetings you can identify ways of working together to help parents to make the most out of learning opportunities in the home and community.
- You could work with the school to develop information that explains new developments in the curriculum and how children are being taught and how parents can be involved.
- You could discuss the homework policy with staff and think about ways in which it can be made more relevant to parents. Maybe workshops could be run for parents to explain what they can do to help.
Ideas to support the school
- The Parent Council can support the school in the events that it holds for parents, e.g. parent meetings, concerts, seasonal events. You can make sure that parents are encouraged to come along to these events and that they meet the needs of parents - e.g. that they are held at venues and at times suitable for parents.
- There may be some parents who find it difficult to join in with activities in school for a variety of reasons. The leaflet 'Helping more parents get involved' has some ideas on involving all parents.
- One very practical way to support the school and which can involve a larger number of parents is through fundraising activities. These can be as much about involvement and providing an opportunity for parents and staff to work together as they are about raising funds. They are also good fun!
If you have a separate PTA you can work together to support each others activities.
Giving parents a voice
Communication with parents is a key area of the Parent Council's work so that you are able to speak to the school and the authority about parents' views on issues that affect the school. You may want to ask parents which methods work best for them, e.g. email, written notes, drop-in mornings, texts to their mobile phone, focus group discussion. See the 'Helping more parents get involved' leaflet in this pack for more information.
You may want to think about how you can contact parents of children who are about to join the school.
You will also have a say in the appointment of a new headteacher or deputy at the school. When this is the case the local authority will involve you in all stages of the process and can provide training to support you.
How can the Toolkit help?
Ideas to support parents - Section 3 of the Toolkit has ideas on helping parents support children's learning at home, with activities (pages 32 and 35) to help in reviewing your school's homework policy and supporting learning at home.
Ideas to support the school - Section 4 of the Toolkit sets out ideas about improving home-school partnerships.
The activities on pages 18-20 and in Section 4 will help you to run a survey of parents. Remember, many parents may feel more comfortable about being asked as part of a conversation rather than filling in a questionnaire.
Giving parents a voice - pages 72-73 of Section 6 of the Toolkit give examples of running events to help parents have their say.