Engaging parents in their young children’s learning: The Parental Engagement Fund project

The Parental Engagement Fund was established to increase knowledge of what works to engage parents, improve the home learning environment and support child development. It also aimed to improve the capacity of the voluntary sector to design, deliver and evaluate interventions.

The fund supported five UK-based organisations offering parental engagement interventions. In addition, the organisations were supported by a team at Oxford who acted as ‘critical friend’, expert advisor and arm’s length evaluator.

The fund reached over 1,000 families and supported the organisations to collect data to help them evaluate early-stage outcomes and understand some of the mechanisms involved in bringing about change. Evaluations comprised ‘feasibility’ trials and small-scale randomised controlled trials, some of which found promising evidence on parenting skills and child outcomes.

The project allowed a new model of support to be trialled – connecting evaluation with delivery and developing ‘upstream’ evaluation (i.e., evaluation that is closer to the intervention source than more independent ‘downstream’ evaluations) – that supported organisations to develop delivery as well as demonstrate impact. The organisations have also leveraged further funding for delivery and larger-scale evaluation.

Website: www.suttontrust.com/our-programmes/parental-engagement-fund/

Blog posts: 





Research reports:

Parental Engagement Fund: Overall report


EasyPeasy evaluations



Engaging parents effectively: Evaluation of the Parental Engagement Network Home Learning Project


Making it REAL: An evaluation of the Oldham Making it REAL project


Peeple: Moving up the evidence scale


The Reader: Magical Story time and Stories for You and Yours – A feasibility study