Enhancing your work with parents and carers

This section is to enhance their partnership working with parents and carers around pupil mental health and emotional wellbeing.

"Working with parents and carers is essential when it comes to promoting and supporting the mental health and emotional wellbeing (MHEW) of pupils, and NICE guidelines state partnership working with families as a key recommendation."

(NICE, 2022)

Thriving

A school that is thriving in this area will:

  • recognise that parents and carers are the experts in their children and foster strong relationships between home and school. (Weare 2015) 
  • actively seek the views of parents and carers and act on these views in meaningful ways.  
  • include parents in the development of policies. (Stirling and Emery 2016) 
  • involve parents in training around mental health and emotional wellbeing. (Blank et al. 2021) 
  • confidently signpost parents to sources of support.  
  • ensure that Gillick Competency is understood by staff and that where children are not Gillick Competent that their parents are informed of any interventions, whilst also taking into account the school’s usual safeguarding procedures.  
  • have clear mechanisms for parents to engage regularly with school staff.  
  • be mindful of parents’ needs including disability, neurodivergence, experience of education and EAL.  
  • find ways to engage parents including digital communication. 
  • engage with parents about the kind of support they may need with their children’s wellbeing.  
  • find ways to involve parents for whom there are barriers to engaging with school, including fathers and male carers, EAL parents, working parents, neurodivergent parents, those with SEND and those who have had a negative experience of school.  
  • work inclusively with the values and attitudes held by the local community, taking a strengths-based approach so that parents and carers do not feel excluded, blamed or stigmatised. (Weare, 2015) 
  • support school staff to manage difficult relationships with parents.  
  • train school staff in how to have difficult conversations with parents and recognise that some will find this more difficult than others. 
  • have a dedicated area of the school website for parents to find information about children and young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.  

Getting advice

  • For advice and resources about Working with Parents and Carers please refer to the Mentally Healthy Schools Resource Hub.

    • A guide for working with parents of children with special educational needs provides specialised information about working specifically with SEND parents  from the charity 4Children
    • The Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service works with West Sussex schools to support pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds, particularly Gypsy Roma Traveller (GRT) pupils and pupils with English as an Additional Language (EAL). 
    • Useful information produced by NHS England considers how to make information accessible for people with a learning disability. 
    • Examples of practice where schools have successfully worked alongside parents/carers from minority ethnic backgrounds.  
    • The West Sussex Special Educational Needs and Disability Information and Advice Support Service (SENDIAS) have designed an Education Partnership for Schools Protocol and questionnaires which can demonstrate the school’s commitment to working alongside parents of children with SEND.  
    • Thought-Full, the mental health support teams in schools (MHST) can offer parent support groups and courses in schools which are part of the Thought-Full programme. Please speak to your Thought-Full advisory teacher to find out more.  

Getting risk support

  • If a safeguarding concern arises through your work with parents and carers you should follow your school’s safeguarding policy, which may indicate a referral to the Integrated Front Door