The Four Pillars of Parental Engagement

Empowering schools to connect better with parents and pupils

By: Karen Dempster , Justin Robbins


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Products specifications
Attribute nameAttribute value
Size222mm x 182mm
PublishedAugust 2021

In The Four Pillars of Parental Engagement: Empowering schools to connect better with parents and pupils, Justin Robbins and Karen Dempster share practical solutions relating to school–parent engagement and communication.

This groundbreaking book promotes parental engagement as a planned, sustained and integral part of a school’s approach to improving standards. An approach which starts with the school vision and positions parents and schools equally as fundamental to student learning.

Justin and Karen describe the challenges of successful parental engagement – encompassing both traditional methods and the use of technology – and examine these challenges through the four pillars of knowledge, environment, culture and communication.

Based on insights gathered from some of the hardest-to-reach parents,this book covers all aspects of the parent–pupil–school relationship and provides a wide-ranging toolkit of practical approaches and strategies that will enable this relationship to thrive.

The authors recognise that before any school can expect parental engagement as a ‘given’, there must be knowledge of the what, why, when, where and how concerning effective interaction – and in this book Justin and Karen present a range of case studies and new perspectives drawn from their primary research and proprietary school communication approach.

Ultimately, the book sets out the various components of a holistic plan geared towards achieving long-term and sustainable results, and a shared passion to ensure that pupils can be the very best versions of themselves when they leave school. After all, the evidence shows that when families engage with the school’s vision and provision, it is the children that ultimately benefit.

Suitable for school leaders and leadership teams in both primary and secondary settings.

Download one of the sample templates for schools here.

Picture for author Karen Dempster

Karen Dempster

A highly experienced communication expert, Karen Dempster is co-founder of Fit2Communicate, a Fellow of the Institute of Internal Communications and a certified DISC personality profile practitioner. She is passionate about raising the standard of communication in all schools in order to support better student outcomes. Prior to 2015, Karen spent 20 years in marketing and communication roles. She is also a professional photographer and lives in Surrey with her husband, son and collection of pets.

Click here to read Karen Dempster’s blog.

Picture for author Justin Robbins

Justin Robbins

Justin Robbins co-founded Fit2Communicate in 2015 and is an experienced communication expert, a Fellow of the Institute of Internal Communications and a certified DISC personality profile practitioner. Prior to 2015, Justin spent 15 years working in corporate communications around the globe – and he is passionate about making a difference for future generations, primarily through helping schools to communicate. Justin is also a British Triathlon level 3 coach and lives in Wiltshire with his wife, two children and chocolate Labrador.

Click here to read Justin Robbins' blog.


  1. Justin Robbins and Karen Dempster have compiled an engaging, insightful and thought-provoking analysis of parental engagement as a means to promote pupils’ attendance, attitudes, mental health and performance in schools. The authors explore a range of strategies to help school staff nurture a more effective partnership approach with parents towards sharing positive information, raising any issues causing concern and moving forward in creating a constructive dialogue. The authors also draw upon their knowledge and practical experience in the use of new technologies for engaging with and sharing information with parents. The outstanding systems and strategies discussed within the framework of the four pillars embrace a major step forward and set out a challenge for many educational establishments. The regular reflection sections, top tips and case studies are a bonus, too.

    This book is a must-read for all school leaders who desire to take advantage of developing technologies to enhance the input of parents and guardians in their children’s engagement with learning.

  2. As we know, parental support is a crucial ingredient in both academic and social success, especially for our most vulnerable students. In The Four Pillars of Parental Engagement Justin Robbins and Karen Dempster set out ways in which schools can build relationships with parents and carers and create a culture of mutual collaboration in order to support all our learners to succeed.

    The four pillars at the centre of the text are rooted in extensive research and evidence as to what is effective in engaging parents. They also provide tools for schools to reflect on in their context in order to be able to work towards building a culture of mutual respect, support and collaboration.

    This book is essential reading for those who want to build on the opportunities meaningful relationships with parents can bring for all.

  3. The Four Pillars of Parental Engagement is a fantastically useful book. The authors give advice to school leaders and teachers on auditing where they are now, building an effective plan and implementing it successfully. The book fizzes with practical advice, is packed with research findings and contains fascinating insights from wide-ranging case studies. It is a powerful manifesto for investing in building and sustaining impactful parental engagement. As Justin Robbins and Karen Dempster rightly argue, get this right and you will see an impact on pupil performance.

  4. While we’re aware that when home and school work as a team around the child, outcomes are improved – it can nevertheless be hard to know where to start. With their four pillars of parental engagement, the authors give us a framework to scaffold our thinking. They go on to walk us through how to develop and implement a plan, and provide a wide range of case studies and top tips to support its implementation.

    The Four Pillars of Parental Engagement is the perfect mix of theory and practice. If you’ve got parental engagement listed on your school improvement plan, this book will be a blessing.

  5. Drawing on the voices of parents, pupils and education professionals, this carefully researched book makes a significant contribution to the field of parental engagement. Framing their insights through the four pillars of knowledge, environment, culture and communication, the authors provide a purposeful and practical way for schools to strengthen this aspect of their work. Highly recommended.

  6. There will be few teachers and school leaders who do not know the difference that parental engagement makes to both the school environment and the pupils themselves, but how to create a culture of parental engagement has often been shrouded in mystery and left up to luck. In The Four Pillars of Parental Engagement, Justin Robbins and Karen Dempster draw upon their own original research and the existing literature to demystify the parental engagement process. They give the reader clear actionable steps as well as an understanding of why these steps matter. I have no doubt that this book will be invaluable to any school seeking the next piece of the school improvement puzzle.

  7. Parental engagement has to be one of the key drivers of success for any school and is so vital, on every level, yet there’s surprisingly very little out there to actually help make it happen. In The Four Pillars of Parental Engagement, Robbins and Dempster have put together an interesting read that will make you reflect on your school’s relationship with your pupils’ parents, what works and why, and how we move forward in these changing times. It’s a must-read for any senior leader.

  8. Insightful, practical and well researched, The Four Pillars of Parental Engagement is a must-read for teachers and school leaders alike. Capturing both why communication is important and how to communicate well, the book helps engage us all in the central role that good communication plays in education. The authors’ model shapes an exciting vision for genuine parent–pupil–school partnership and recognises that as each part of the trio is responsible and accountable, so each part must have a voice and be heard. Schools who ignore the lessons of this book or don’t make time for this discussion in their staffrooms do so at their peril. The revolution in communication is here; we either try to survive it with our heads in the sand or use it to thrive.

    This book will be of huge value to schools, teachers, serving and aspiring leaders and even parents, who could better understand how to engage with their school to achieve the best impact for their children.

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