Getting your Parent Council up and running

Parent Councils play an important role in bringing home and school together; enabling schools to gather parents’ views and parents to share their ideas and get more involved in school life. There are a number of ways a Parent Council can run, so before formalising your group, take time to explore the best way forward for your whole school community. Follow our seven steps to get your Parent Council up and running:

Step 1. Set up a working party or steering group

Parent Councils are most successful when they represent all members of the school community, right from the start. Ask a range of parents, a governor and a senior member of staff to join the steering group.

If your group has limited or no past experience of setting up or running a Parent Council, our workshop Developing a Parent Council at Your School covers all the essentials for senior leaders for getting started.

Step 2. Consult widely

There are a number of ways a Parent Council can run depending on the size of your school and how formal you want it to be. Consult with parents, governors and staff to identify what kind of parent body will work best for your school and parent body.

Here are Five ways to organise a parent council.

Some parents are less engaged with school life and may be harder to reach, so once you’ve planned your consultation, use a range of communication methods to reach all sections of your community.

More guidance on communication and consultation

Step 3. Plan your first meeting

When the consultation is complete, arrange a meeting of the working party or steering group to discuss the outcomes and set a date for your first meeting. Start thinking about the specific roles you’ll need to appoint and the skills required for each.

More about roles and skills

Step 4. Announce your first meeting and begin to recruit members

You’ll want to utilise all your communication channels to invite parents, senior staff, teachers, staff and governors to your first meeting. And ask staff if there are any parents they’d recommend you approach directly. Use school apps, emails, noticeboards, flyers and social media accounts to let parents know where and when you’re meeting, and how to register their interest in joining the Parent Council.

How to recruit volunteers

Step 5. Your first meeting

Use your first meeting to provide more information about why the Parent Council is being set up, who can join, how it will run, positions of responsibility that you’re recruiting for, when and where the group will meet, and to set the date for the next meeting. The first meeting is an opportunity for parents to share the matters they want to discuss with the school, and this will help inform your agendas for future Parent Council meetings. Suggested agenda for the first meeting. We recommend you agree terms of reference early on, to formalise the work of your group and clear ground rules to follow.

Parentkind terms of reference for Parent Councils. 

Step 6. Report and review outcomes

After the first meeting, the steering group or working party come together again to review and report on the outcomes. Outcomes should be reported to the governing body, school leadership team, and shared with staff and all parents.

Step 7. The way forward

You’re now ready to agree the way forward. Once a Parent Council has been established your challenge is to keep it running positively and successfully, so think about how you’ll keep your Parent Council fresh, effective and interesting for new members. We've got plenty of ideas to help you keep up the momentum.

This is a good time to book further training to help the group progress.

Reviewed: October 2018

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