Engagement from Stakeholders


There are two aspects of engagement that you could consider for your research project. Firstly, how to effectively engage learners - how to identify learners who are at risk of becoming disengaged and how to prevent this happening. Engagement is perceived to have many benefits for learners and schools themselves.

Secondly, engaging the wider community (community and voluntary groups; parents; statutory authorities; local authorities and businesses; further and higher education institutions; partnerships and/or other schools, for example). Community engagement is important as schools become accountable to parents and their community for their progress and learner attainment.

What could I research?

Engagement provides many interesting and worthwhile areas for research. Within this wide policy arena, there are various topics that schools could investigate. Here are some ideas:

What is the wider school community's perception on funding priorities for the next year?


Evaluating an intervention to engage a particular stakeholder group.


What strategies are most effective at engaging parents/carers in school life?

How do I gather feedback from stakeholders?


Research ideas


How do extar-curricular clubs and societies affect learner engagement levels?

How can my schools' work with partner agencies improve?


What additional clubs or societies would parents like the school to provide?


what activities most effectively engage gifted and talented students?


To what extent do school governors engage with day to day school life?

What research design should I use?

Here are some things you will need to consider when designing your research project.



You will need to consider who to include in your research. For research into engagement you could include all or sub-sections of your school staff; learners; parents/carers; partners working with schools (e.g multi-agency teams, behaviour support workers, social workers etc); governors and/or the wider community. 


Developing young researchers

You may want to encourage your learners to carry out research into learner engagement, for example. They may be able to offer invaluable insights into instrument development, data collection and interpretation/analysis. Their peers may be more open and honest with each other than they would be with an adult. Or you could ask learners to ask their parents how they think the school could promote parental engagement.



You could undertake observations of activities; carry out interviews or focus groups with stakeholder groups or you could conduct a survey to assess levels of engagement or satisfaction. Alternatively (or in addition) you may choose to carry out a literature review to find out what strategies of engagement are particularly successful.


Measuring change

When evaluating a change in engagement levels, it is best practice to adopt a ‘before’ and ‘after’ assessment. This can be done by asking key stakeholders, at the outset, about their hopes, aspirations and intentions and again at the end, whether these aims were realised and what has been the resulting impact? It is not always possible to ask before (pre) and after (post) questions. In this case, just do so afterwards – this way you can learn from their experiences and implement relevant changes.

Relevant research and guidance

NFER has carried out a great deal of research into supporting young people to engage or re-engage in education, employment and training, many of which can be found here. You may also find useful our information about developing young researchers.

Learner engagement: a review of learner voice initiatives across the UK's education sectors

Rapid review of parental engagement and narrowing the gap in attainment for disadvantaged children

Teacher Guide: Parental engagement and narrowing the gap in attainment for disadvantaged children

Non-formal learning: Good practice in re-engaging young people who are NEET

You may also find our School Surveys helpful. 

Additionally, you may also find some of these organisations’ publications useful:


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