From relationships to partnerships – the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on parental engagement in children’s learning in Wales and the implications for initial teacher education.

The research study

Welsh Government awarded a grant in June 2020 to a research team from the universities of Bangor and Swansea to undertake this study.

Research area

Drawing upon evidence from a small sample of schools, the research reports on the impact of the pandemic on parental engagement in education and the implications for initial teacher education.


Building upon a review of previous evidence in this area the research team undertook a small-scale survey with parents/carers and ITE students, semi-structured interviews in a small sample of schools and a single school case study.

Main findings

  1. The pandemic has had a significant impact on parents/carers’ engagement with their children’s learning as well as on communication between schools and parents/carers.
  2. This has led to more importance being placed on relationships between school and home and the shared responsibility that exists for children’s learning.
  3. The case study of a school where such relationships already existed demonstrates the positive impact this had on easing the challenges of the pandemic, including supporting the wellbeing and academic progress of children.
  4. Most parents/carers felt well supported by schools, although experiences varied between schools.
  5. Parents/carers in general reported having a better understanding of the curriculum and their children’s learning.
  6. Treatment of the importance of parental engagement is inconsistent in initial teacher education programmes; in some cases this includes a deficit view of parents/carers being presented, which is detrimental to parent/carer–teacher relationships and parental engagement.


  1. Coverage of parental engagement in initial teacher education programmes should be enhanced and include consistency in its definition and understanding.
  2. A seminar should be arranged for the summer of 2021 as a way of commencing this work.
  3. Useful and relevant resources for parental engagement should be identified for use in initial teacher education courses.
  4. Welsh Government should convene a stakeholder group to consider how wider awareness of the importance of parental engagement within the Welsh education system can be promoted, drawing upon the experiences of the pandemic.

Further information

The full research report will be published in the summer of 2021 in the NSERE area of Hwb. For further information contact