Effective Partnerships
with Parents (EPPa)

provides a structure to
help schools to meet
the new challenges of:

Every Child Matters
Extended Schools
School Self-evaluation
Five Year Strategy
EPPa has been
A Strategy and Toolkit
supported by:
for developing effective
partnerships between
schools, parents/carers
and communities
The EPPa strategy and toolkit evolved as the result of an action research project over five
years that involved a variety of schools, including primary and secondary; large and small;
inner city and rural. The aim of the project was to help define what effective and productive
partnerships between schools, families and communities would look like in practice. The
EPPa strategy was first evaluated independently by the Centre for Social and Educational
Research using schools in the South West of England and a further evaluation was under-
taken using additional schools in the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham.
EPPa has been supported by DfES, the Learning and Skills Council, Devon, Plymouth and
Torbay Local Education Authorities, Poplar Partnership, School-Home Support and the
Campaign for Learning.
What is EPPa?
‘The Government
EPPa offers schools a structured approach within which to create effective and sustainable recognises the crucial
partnerships with families and communities that support learning in its widest sense. It isbased upon the belief that an informed and supportive parent1 body will do a great deal to role of parents, carers
raise standards in schools and help children to achieve their potential. EPPa is first and and families in improving
foremost a school development tool and comes with an optional EPPa Award element.
outcomes for children
The supporting toolkit is user-friendly for use by schools, parents, children’s centres and and young people and
the need to provide
Many schools already believe that they do all they can to inform and involve parents but support for parents,
the Every Child Matters and Extended Schools agendas require schools to face new carers and their families
challenges with regard to parents and the community. The EPPa strategy offers a flexible in order for them to do so.’
tool for schools with which to tackle these new areas in a structured way, to meet locally Every Child Matters Change forChildren, DfES 2005 1The use of the word
‘parent’ is intended to
refer to all parents and
any significant adults in
the lives of children and
includes for example,
carers and grandparents.

A new appproach
EPPa offers a different approach in that it is the parents and community that drive projects
forward by providing the leadership and coordination, working closely with school staff
and governors. The advantages of this parent-led approach are:
• Support and involvement of parents is greater• Parents tend to live locally and make natural links with communities• Parents have wide ranging skills and expertise to add value to the • Parents have windows of time to commit• A parent-to-parent approach is less daunting for some people • Much of the administration is undertaken by parents• Parents are in a key position to identify and implement projects to meet the needs of local people to help them support children’s learning.
How Does the EPPa Strategy Work?
An ‘Action Team’ is formed, chaired by a parent, parent governor or parent community
member. Initially the parents are likely to be ‘the usual suspects’ but as the Team evolves,
‘harder to reach’ parents become engaged and often take key roles.
• Action Teams members will include representatives from parents, school staff (including a senior teacher), governors and the local community.
• The EPPa Action Teams is a management group established to identify, develop and implement projects that promote more effective home-school-communitypartnerships. It is not a complaints tribunals or merely a discussion forum. Theprojects are identified following consultation with the school’s stakeholders.
Because Action Teams are independently constituted community groups, they are able toapply for funding to grants and trusts for substantial sums of money to help with their projects.
The role of the Action Team is to: ‘We live in an area with
• Talk to as many people as possible and, through surveys and questionnaires, enormous cultural diversity
find out what is working and what are the challenges and the EPPa Action
• Decide priorities and make a plan• Share out the tasks with other volunteers Team promotes projects
that help parents see that
• Evaluate projects and decide the next steps.
we can all really contribute
and make a difference.’
Parent Action Team member
Engaging parents and the community using EPPa
Action Teams are at the heart of parent and community involvement in EPPa schools. This
means that schools become more aware of how to meet the needs and challenges that
many parents face. Action Teams identify these and then offer appropriate support. EPPa is
not prescriptive. It develops and improves on existing good practice in line with the school
management plan. Schools face significant challenges if they are to integrate parents and
communities in the way envisioned by government initiatives. Developing new partnerships
to produce interagency working for the benefit of all children and families should include
parents as key ‘network actors’ from planning to implementation. They are in a position to
support schools that face a difficult juggling job as they keep focused on raising standards
whilst simultaneously engaging parents and community for longer-term gains.
EPPa Action Teams have demonstrated that they can contribute significantly by: • Using links that education, health and social services personnel have with
children to avoid duplication and maximise resources.
Disseminating leaflets and information about learning opportunities for
parents and families, using libraries, health centres, grocery stores etc.
• Hosting one-off community events such as fun-days (e.g. multi-cultural activity
days, music events and environmental awareness/recycling projects.
• Organising community support programmes (e.g. lunch club for elderly
residents, nursery provision and family learning workshops).
• Ensuring (through close working with families) that interpreters are available,
the school site is open, warm and welcoming for parents. Language and formatof publications is respectful of the needs of all.
• Actively recruiting parents, carers and advisors from the local community with
first-hand knowledge to support others and promote inclusion.
• Offering a variety of involvement so that parents and carers can be involved
in their local school EPPa Team and influence what it undertakes.
• Empowering parents through projects that offer basic skills and similar
training that help them to assist their child and provide good role models.
• Accessing training for volunteers and providing schools and communities
• Giving schools a truer picture of how they are perceived by parents and the community and aiming to promote a positive image of the school in the
Case Studies
Bygrove Primary School,
Bygrove School is a one-form entry primary school with a nursery, situated in the heart of
London’s East End. The school’s population is racially mixed but the largest ethnic group is
Tower Hamlets
Bangladeshi. Parental involvement has become a priority at the school and staff at Bygrove sought to empower parents further through the EPPa strategy. Nine parents and four staff could do. This quickly changed, andwith other parents, I found that I members, representing the broad ethnic mix of families at the school became the core members of the EPPa Action Team. Its first project was a hugely successful multi-cultural day where they engaged the majority of families. Families brought food to share and watched the children performing dances and music ranging from traditional Indian dances to line dancing. The aim of this event was to give all parents the opportunity to contribute to a school event and to give the children a chance to show off their school.
Flushed with success, the EPPa team went on to organise a summer fete (there is no PTAat the school), recruited new members and raised money for their next project, which wasto provide a library of maths resource packs for family activities. The packs were so successfulthat the library has been overwhelmed at times with the number of parents. As well asengaging parents with learning throughout the school, this scheme has also given ActionTeam parents, organising the project, new skills. They have been involved in working closelywith the school staff, ordering packs, keeping the finances straight and acting as librarians.
In just twelve months, the EPPa strategy has given the school a new way of involving parentsin a positive and sustainable way. The team now literally wants to build on its success andis looking into potential funding for building a room for parents at the school.
Langdon Park secondary school, in Tower Hamlets, established its EPPa Action Team in
Langdon Park
2005 at a time when the school was undergoing major refurbishment. By prioritising Community College
parental involvement, the school aimed to gain greater support from families who traditionally step back when children reach secondary school age. Their first project extended the recycling work already in progress at the school and in the summer term, they organised improvement in attitude and behaviour of our students.“ a very successful ‘Give and Take’ day. This project engaged parents on the Action Team with organising and implementing a complex plan that enabled local people to exchangeunwanted household and other goods. The Action Team succeeded in reaching the target audience of families who do not normally come to the school and the project directly involved students at several levels (e.g. in designing posters and in citizenship exercises we are setting up a credit union so parents and their children will all benefit.” Many parents were keen to repeat this particular event and others are enthusiastic to take part in new projects. The Give and Take day contributed to the positive image of the schoolin the local community. The next project, already underway, is to instigate a credit union forfamilies with children at the school. This will have real benefits for students. In just twelvemonths, the EPPa strategy at Langdon Park has demonstrated that it is possible to engagethose parents who have previously been regarded as ‘hard to reach’ by the school.
Through helping other parents and meeting local need, parent team members have tappedinto local training resources and have developed new skills and confidence that will allowthe Action Team to go from strength to strength.
Lansbury Lawrence Primary School in Tower Hamlets is a recently amalgamated junior,
Lansbury Lawrence
infant and nursery school where over half the pupils have free school meals. The two-form Primary School
entry school has an ethnically diverse population. The school is eager to further develop partnerships since its amalgamation, and the EPPa strategy offered a structure to do this.
provide basic writing stuff for thechildren to use at home. It’s beenvery, very popular! In running the Initial consultations revealed that parents (Somali parents in particular) wanted to know how they could help their children and all parents wanted to enjoy a better relationship with school and staff. A range of diverse projects followed ranging from a garden renova- tion/environmental project that aims to engage more fathers, family learning workshops, transition projects and the establishment of a school shop that provides basic writing tools and learning resources for pupils to use at home at cost price.
Case Studies
The shop has been a real success and has raised funds from local businesses in order tokeep prices low and increase the range of stock. The shop is now well-established andbrings in the majority of parents who can also get help and advice from other parentsabout purchases while they are there.
The shop has generated a lot of goodwill and more interest in supporting children’s learningat home. The team is consequently considering organising workshops for parents who wantto support children with homework and the school is hoping to start a homework club forchildren. New Action Team consultations with parents have revealed that computer trainingfor parents would be valued and the team has identified professional trainers to deliverparent and child ICT sessions. Building on the success of Family Learning Week, the Teamhas discovered that the school can have free football coaching sessions for families andthese will start in the Spring Term. The family learning workshops have seen an increase inparticipation of up to 20% The parents’ room at Lansbury Lawrence is now too small to accommodate the regularmeetings of the parents and the Team is preparing a bid for refurbishing the space that willinclude crèche provision.
The EPPa Team has engaged parents in a variety of new ways with the school. Whilst someprojects directly support children’s learning, others have crucially helped to break down thebarriers presented by school for some parents. Parents on the Team have learned new skillsassociated with managing the shop, organising family learning projects and raising fundsthrough businesses and trusts. Parents at the school in general have had opportunities toaccess a wider support network in the school and in the community.
Lister is a full-service school in Newham. Two of its local feeder primary schools have
Lister Community School
joined forces with Lister to form a cluster EPPa Action Team that comprises parents and professionals from the three schools and represents the highly diverse ethnic community in Plaistow and Southern
Road Primary Schools
The Action Team organised an incredibly successful multi-cultural evening where families shared food together and pupils from all three schools presented a music and dance event.
This evening was the springboard to launch interest in the Action Team and its projects.
make the most of all our talents andskills. EPPa has helped us to build About 200 people turned out to hear about the initiative and share in the festivities.
links between the primary schoolsand the secondary school so that The twenty-strong team of parents and staff are considering a range of projects suggested by parents and families in the community such as Arabic language classes, developing more summer activities for teenagers, a women’s drumming group and an ambitious community celebration in summer 2006. In the few months since it was established, the combined schools’ Action Team has seen improvements in the way the three schools network with one another, and parents are now at the forefront of shaping community development.
The Queen Elizabeth Action Team was established in 1999. The school is on a split site in
Queen Elizabeth
a market town. It has thirteen feeder primary schools in the local town and surrounding Community Technology
villages. The Action Team has undertaken many and diverse projects ranging from communi- College (QECC)
cations improvement to parenting workshops. Revisions of the home/school contact book, the school calendar and transition information for parents were early projects. The split school site caused difficulties in the town for people visiting, including the emergency services, parents and new pupils. Within six months of establishing the Action Team, new signs were introduced as a result of community liaison between the school, the Action Team invite parents in and it helped meand other parents get involved with Transition in this rural setting is an issue for young Year 6 pupils and their families who are nervous about moving up to ‘big school’ which involves a bus journey and immersion in a new and bustling environment. The Action Team undertook several projects to ease transition.
One was the so-called ‘Bud-Wiser’ internet buddying project. This was started to improvetransition into Year 7 at QECC and involved pupils in Year 6 at a local primary school.
Case Studies
Queen Elizabeth
Over £6,000 was raised by the Team from grants and trusts which made it possible to Community Technology
organise three parenting workshops, run by professionals. These workshops attracted hundreds of people over three days and were repeated for the benefit of staff later. In addition College (QECC)
to these workshops the local family centre contacted the EPPa team and asked if they could help with behaviour management courses for parents of very young children. Workshops leadership team I quickly learnt thatsimple yet essential improvements were run in health and community centres in the area and feedback revealed more confident parents and better behaved children.
as a result of the Action Team’s work!Communication projects, behaviour Staff at the college expressed an interest in having better trained volunteers to work along- side them in the school in a number of departments and the Action Team created a register of volunteers. Volunteers have been deployed in expressive arts, special needs, careers all done by the EPPa Action Team.
So much of the good practice The work of the Action Team at QECC illustrates how parents can lead and drive projects around parental involvement havehad its origins with the EPPa Team.” forward with just a little support from school staff. Many of the projects have been absorbed into the school’s development plan.
Crediton Learning
The fourteen schools that make up the Crediton Learning Community have formed an
Executive Action Team (CLCA – Crediton Learning Community Action), with representatives
Community Action
from head teachers, teaching and non-teaching staff, parents, governors and community “Because we are about developinglearning communities and not just organisations. CLCA has adopted a community-based constitution and has initiated two major projects in the twelve months since it was established.
get hold of funding and other support from the local community Healthy Eating and Lifestyles (HEAL) has involved people from schools, the Primary Care Trust, the local council, sports organisations and others. Seminars have been arranged to help schools to advance their plans, and events have been organised involving the families and communities throughout the region covered by the schools. These have included: walking bus; Healthy Schools Award; addressing issues relating to school dinners and packedlunches; daily exercise; fitness fun day; village sports day.
Living for Tomorrow, an environmental awareness project, is now under way, focusing tobegin with on energy saving but longer term including water conservation and reducingand recycling waste. The aim will be to influence not only what goes on in schools (withplenty of opportunity to save money!), but also within families and the local community,including businesses. Students and pupils are also represented on the action group. Otherprojects planned for the future include volunteer training and arts projects. At present useis made of an Extended Schools Co-ordinator, who acts as a link between all the schools.
The intention is to find funding for a co-ordinator who will provide admin support for CLCAand the project teams.
Parkside Community
Parkside has had an EPPa Action Team since 1999 when the school had just become part
of a new Education Action Zone. The continuing emphasis of the Action Team in 2006 is on
Technology College,
making the college more community and parent/carer focused. The college was keen to engage parents with the community regeneration process to ensure that parents and carers disabled. I lacked so much confidence.
I went to one of the EPPa team events had their say in its future development. Prior to the creation of the Action Team in 1999 there was little engagement of parents in the life of the college. Research undertaken by the Action Team showed the college that fathers and BME parents were a particular challenge.
give and so much that was neededthat I became chair when they asked Community organisations, parents and staff have all been actively engaged in a range of projects over the years, including newsletters, adult learning initiatives (e.g. ICT), creative arts taster sessions, days celebrating cultural diversity in the community and behaviour support workshops for parents of children who are at risk of being excluded. Projects were identified using consultations with the local community, families and the school and consequently designed to meet local need.
The Action Team sought to address a problem of racial tensions in the area by organisinga World-Wide-Wednesday celebration of cultural diversity where pupils, staff and families inthe area could share and participate in workshop activities centred on the performing arts.
Case Studies
Projects undertaken by the team have not required substantial amounts of funding becausethe Team tapped into local resources and providers who gave services free at the point ofdelivery to parents and carers. These services included courses on ICT and ‘Teen Tactics’which enabled parents and carers to develop strategies for coping with difficult or challenging behaviour at home. The behaviour management project reached more peoplethan anticipated and more courses are planned.
As a result of the Action Team projects, better lines of communication have opened upbetween the college and parents. The college is now seen by parents as a more friendlyplace through projects like the ‘Meet the Head’ sessions. Parents who undertake learningfor themselves are better able to support their own children and provide better role models.
Some ‘hard-to-reach’ parents who joined family learning classes went on to become ActionTeam members and then school governors. There is now a parents’ room at the college andthe Team is well-placed to identify and meet the needs of parents for training, advice, etc.
New funding has been secured to begin a new phase of work to reach out to the BMEcommunity. This will include interpretation and translation costs as well as capacity-buildingtraining for the team members and funding for an EPPa coordinator for a second year.
Highfield is in an area of urban deprivation in Plymouth. The Action Team was established
Highfield Primary School
in 1999 and at that time had a singular focus: the aim was to renovate spare school space to create a learning facility for the community. Within four years, the Team had raised over £25,000 through local and national grants and trusts in order to convert three old class- rooms and some cupboards into what has become a community resource with a fully functional nursery (with facilities for babies), a huge learning space with 10 computer terminals, a separate kitchen, a quiet area and a bathroom with shower and changing structure to embrace important newgovernment agendas, especially the facilities for disabled people. The Team recruited support in kind as well as money and now the space is used by the school, the community and families for courses as diverse as ICT, food hygiene, basic car maintenance, first-aid and ‘whiz-art’. It is also used as a meeting room while the local church is being refurbished. The pupils at the school, as part of their citizenship, serve lunches to elderly local residents at a lunch club held by the Action Team management plan has been somuch easier using the EPPa strategy. “ Families who were timid about coming into the school have been encouraged to step over the threshold into the community rooms, which are, in effect, a ‘halfway house’ to the school proper. Events targeted at familiarising parents with the building have included ‘Breakfast with Beckham’ during the 2002 football world cup. These early morning events attracted over 60 families, including many fathers, which was most unusual. The nursery facility was much-needed in this area as is the breakfast club that runs every day for pupils had writing and reading difficulties.
at no charge. The club has improved concentration and has socialised pupils according to staff.
Because I was a parent and theytrusted me, I was able to tactfully Highfield’s Action Team has attracted national interest and positive publicity for the school.
It has been featured in the TES, the National College for School Leadership’s publications, DfES Extended Schools document and the work of the Action Team has been cited as an be able to get some help at last!”Parent example of good practice on a DfES video that promotes parental involvement. There is nodoubt that without the efforts of the Action Team at Highfield, none of these projects wouldhave been possible or even considered by school staff. The Action Team has brought togetherresources from the community and the school to help raise standards and increase socialcapital in the local community. On many fronts this is a huge success story. Support fromthe head teacher and school staff has been significant and illustrates what is possible whenparents and staff work together to achieve joint goals.
Linking and networking EPPa Teams nationwide
EPPa Action Teams are part of a growing network that uses electronic and more traditional
means of contact. There is a website that offers support and advice as well as a members
area for sharing and disseminating good practice. To support schools at a local level, local
authority children’s service staff can undertake EPPa Mentor training. For more informa-
tion about the two-day EPPa Mentor training programme visit the Mosaic Educational
website (
The Award
The Award element is an optional part of the EPPa scheme. It is designed to be challenging
but achievable by any school wanting to show commitment to partnership with
parents and the community. To achieve the Award schools will have to show that they have
set up a constituted, parent-led Action Team, and provide details about two projects,
chosen in consultation with parents, the school and community. These two projects will
need to demonstrate successful work with volunteers and show that they have engaged
more parents and children in learning. There is comprehensive guidance in the Toolkit about
the Award and how to achieve it.
• Compiling a portfolio of evidence.
• Submitting the portfolio for evaluation by EPPa.
• Discussion between EPPa moderators and members of the Action Team, which may be conducted by telephone or in person.
• Subject to successful submission, the Award will be given and is valid • Schools wanting to reapply, will have to demonstrate continued excellent work with parents and community in accordance with the EPPa guidelines.
There will be a fee for the Award which will cover the cost of evaluation and administration.
Full details are given on the website (
What the EPPa Package Contains
EPPa Manual 64 pages. Step-by-step guide on setting up your Action Team,
getting constituted, an audit of current practice, developing projects, etc.
EPPa Awareness 32 pages. Everything you will need to raise awareness amongst
your school community and get support for the scheme.
EPPa Award 32 pages. Step-by-step guidance to help you to achieve the Award.
CD An accompanying CD provides a wealth of support information and
Mosaic Educational Ltd,
documentation created in Word, including materials which you can adapt or The Square, SANDFORD,
Crediton, Devon EX17 4LW
Inviting Families In 48 pages, provides practical ideas for engaging parents
Tel: (01363) 776230
Fax: (01363) 776889

e-mail: [email protected]
Telephone Help-line to help you with any queries you may have.
Networking with other schools and share good practice via our website.
Please send me the EPPa Toolkit at the price of £125, including postage.
❑ Please invoice me ❑ I enclose an official order form
❑ I enclose a cheque made payable to Mosaic Educational Ltd.
Name: _________________________________________________________________________________ Job title ________________________________________________________________________________ School/Organisation _______________________________________________________________________ Address ________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ Postcode ________________ Tel No. _______________________________________ Fax: ______________________________________ Email: _________________________________________________________________________________ NB For schools wishing to undertake the EPPa Award, additional costs are made to cover fees formentoring, evaluation and the moderating process. Details are included in the Toolkit. Please send this order form to the Mosaic Educational address given above.


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