Education policy

Control of education is devolved to each of the countries that make up the United Kingdom.  The UK Government is responsible for education in England with the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive being responsible for education in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively. Consequently different systems have developed over time.

PTA UK aims to give a parent viewpoint on key developments in the education policies and systems in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Read our position statements below.

(Jump straight to a statement: England | Northern Ireland | Wales)

In England

PTA UK calls on all political parties, schools, unions and other interested groups to work together with us to raise children's attainment by building flourishing school communities that recognise parents as genuine partners in education.  

We have set out four key recommendations to make sure parents have a genuine voice in education at national, regional and local levels:

  1. We call for all schools to benefit from a parent group such as a PTA or Parent Council with clear pathways to the senior leadership team, governors and trustees. PTA UK already supports a network of parent bodies across half of all schools in England and 85% of parents tell us they want to do more to support their child’s school and have a say in how their child is educated.
  2. We want parents to be properly represented on any local advisory bodies, governing bodies and multi-academy trust (MAT) governing boards too. Pathways to senior leadership teams need to be clear, as well as links to local parent groups at individual schools.
  3. We’d like to ensure parental participation forms an integral part of initial teacher and leadership training and CPD, including development of a method for schools to exchange and share best practice on parent engagement through involving institutions such as the National College of Teaching and Leadership or the Chartered College of Teaching.
  4. We encourage revision of the guidance prepared by the DfE and The National Schools Commissioner; as well as in the inspection and assessment criteria of our schools by Ofsted, to recognise the importance of ensuring our schools are parent-friendly and fully harness the power of parents to support learning.

Read the full PTA UK manifesto for England. 


In Northern Ireland

We want to work with the Northern Ireland Assembly and other partners to:

  • Establish a parent body in every school. PTA NI has almost 300 PTA members, just under 50% of the estimated total number of PTAs in NI. In Scotland, the opportunity to create a parent body in every school has been in made statutory in the Education Act.
  • Continue supporting PTAs in NI through the charity registration process. The charities legislation has created huge challenges for PTAs. We continue to support our members with our model constitution, approved by Charity Commission NI and other preapproved resources, but much more needs to be done in communicating the legislative requirement to PTAs and providing the assistance required.
  • Provide opportunity for greater parent participation at policy level in education working with PTA NI and utilising PTA groups and district networks for PTAs (known as ‘PTA Hubs’). Supported by funding from the Department of Social Development, PTA NI is currently setting up PTA Hubs in Belfast and Carrickfergus. These hubs will become support networks for new and existing PTAs and a representative liaison body between parents, schools and government. We would ask that the appetite of parental participation at policy level is recognised and employed using these mechanisms.
  • Support further, innovative projects that maximise the potential parents and PTAs have to enhance learning, and build social capital and communities.

Read the full PTA NI manifesto.


In Wales

 We want to work with the Welsh Government and other partners to:

  • Establish a parent body in every school in Wales, epecially targeting those in programmes such as Schools Challenge Cymru or the counties with lowest numbers of existing PTAs, with a view to making this a statutory requirement within five years if parent bodies are not established voluntarily.
  • Ensure the parent voice is heard at national, regional and local level – particularly as the new curriculum is developed and rolled out. PTA CYMRU will seek to inform and work with various government departments on projects, campaigns, policy and research.
  • Actively promote the new family and community engagement toolkit for schools as a way to make schools community assets and contribute to the cultural, sporting and educational life of children, families and communities.
  • Ensure that Estyn inspections value and include the school’s success in engaging parents and consider parent bodies and schools as whole community assets.
  • Apply for government funding to run a pilot project to introduce better parental participation in schools where this is not the norm, as we have done successfully with the Department of Social Development in Northern Ireland.

Read the full PTA Cymru manifesto (2016) in Welsh.

Read the full PTA Cymru manifesto (2016) in English

If you wish to work with PTA Cymru on this please contact us: tracey.handley@pta.org.uk.