An image of a toy mouse with a speech bubble saying

An important message from PEN.

Sep 20, 2023

We are sad to announce that after 12 years of working with schools and school staff to better support families with their children's learning and development, PEN's journey is ending.

In recent years, the increased focus on parental engagement that came from the Pandemic has resulted in many new resources, initiatives, non-profits and research projects. The world of parental engagement has become ever more exciting and innovative, and we're proud to have been a part of that! We have collaborated freely with almost 40 other third-sector organisations and initiatives since the start of the Pandemic to share our learning and support the work of others in this vital area.

To best use these opportunities to engage parents in their child's learning and development, a school needs to implement them as part of a focused, long-term parental engagement strategy. However, increased teacher vacancies, poorly addressed pupil and staff mental health, reduced funding, and disproportionate focus on testing and results have meant that many schools are firefighting and don't have time or money to spend on projects that may not have a measurable academic impact in the short term. Unfortunately, this has now trickled down to micro non-profits such as PEN, meaning we cannot provide our services as we always have.

Measuring the impact of parental engagement initiatives can be challenging, especially when the focus is on increasing partnership working and community involvement. However, at PEN, we know our work has made a difference because our schools and families have shared their positive experiences with us through tweets, testimonials, photos, and videos. You may be familiar with our Mouse Club Project or networking events or have come across our Moving Up or Active Families Projects. You may have also attended one of our parental engagement training sessions. We are proud of the milestones we have achieved at PEN and the impact our work has had; we have compiled a timeline of our work.

2011. Emma Beresford opened The Parental Engagement Network, running network meetings for teachers and headteachers across Greater Manchester and bespoke training on parental engagement with fellow consultant Janet Davies.

2014. Lottery funding helped us develop Moving Up, a Bridging Unit that has allowed 48 primary and secondary schools to support their families with the transition to Secondary School.

2016. PEN developed the Family Detective Reading Project for KS2. In collaboration with the Sutton Trust, we also began developing the Mouse Club Project this year, funded through Esme Fairbairn and evaluated by Oxford University. Since this date, over 50,000 parents and children in the early years have been supported to be ready for school.

2017. The PEN Parental Engagement Toolkit was a concept Emma and Janet had been developing for several years, but we began to structure it further this year. An ever-evolving resource, it has equipped hundreds of schools to evaluate and improve their approach to parental engagement.

2018. With Sport England funding, we began developing our Active Families project. Despite pandemic lockdowns, we collaborated with over 40 schools and community groups to support over 200 families to be more active together through this fun and engaging initiative.

2020. We created, designed and distributed 50 Family Home Learning curriculum-themed activity sheets to schools to support parents with home learning.

Throughout its existence, PEN has collaborated with roughly 35 local authorities and large school trusts to deliver customised parental engagement programs and establish local parental engagement networks. The team has assisted over 500 schools in enhancing their parental engagement offerings through various projects, initiatives, training, and network meetings. The thousands of individual school staff members who have benefited from our assistance are difficult to quantify. Still, if each school had just one teacher implementing improved parental engagement strategies for one class per year over ten years, our efforts would have impacted at least 150,000 parents, helping them to become more involved in their child's learning and development. Consequently, at least 150,000 children have had a better chance of fulfilling their academic potential.


It has been a privilege to be on this journey with PEN. Our goal was to create connection and community, and we have achieved that in more ways than one. We would like to express our gratitude to all of our fantastic member schools and extend a heartfelt thank you to every school staff member, family, and school community who contributed to our network and helped make it a success.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected]


With deep appreciation and warmest goodbyes,
Helen & the PEN Team

P.S. Our website will continue to offer access to all of our projects. If you are a Mouse Club school or would like to become one and wish to purchase mice, bags, or books, we have them in stock, and you can make your purchase through our website; please keep an eye out for further emails telling you what is happening with the Mouse Club Project.

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