Overview

Parents can get involved in their child’s education in many ways, including through the school council at their child’s school and the school board parent involvement committee (PIC). Both PICs and school councils encourage parent involvement in support of student achievement, equity, and well-being.

A PIC is an important board-level advisory body that operates as a direct link between parents and a board’s director of education and trustees.

All school boards in Ontario are required to have a parent involvement committee. PICs build parent engagement by:

  • providing advice to the district school board on parent engagement and ways to communicate with parents
  • developing strategies and initiatives that the board could use to effectively engage parents in improving student achievement and well-being
  • sharing information with and supporting the work of all the school councils in the school board

Each parent involvement committee decides how best to achieve these goals, depending on the specific needs of its board, community, organization and members.

Membership

Parent involvement committees are led by parents and most of their members are parents. The director of education at a school board and the school board trustee are also members, so parents have a direct link to the schoo  board.

Parent members serve for a term of one or two years. Each parent member must be the parent or guardian of a current student enrolled in a school that is part of the board that established the PIC.

The PIC appoints up to three community members and decides whether to include other members, such as a principal, teacher, and support staff, based on its local needs.

Ontario Regulation 612/00 requires all Ontario school boards to establish a parent involvement committee and outlines its composition, function and mandate.

How parent involvement committees help

When parents and schools work together, positive outcomes include:

  • improved student achievement
  • improved behaviour
  • reduced absenteeism
  • a greater sense of inclusion, belonging and confidence among parents about their children’s education

The province, district school boards and schools all benefit from hearing parent opinions and perspectives.

The difference between parent involvement committees and school councils

Where school councils focus on an individual school, parent involvement committees provide advice at the board level and focus on things that affect more than one school.

How to join a parent involvement committee

To get involved, contact your local school board or call a Ministry of Education regional office for your area. Either can put you in contact with your local parent involvement committee.

Everyone is welcome to attend parent involvement committee meetings and learn how they work. Meetings are held at least four times a year. Check the board’s website to find out when and where meetings will be held, as well as minutes of past meetings.

Tips for running effective committees

Running meetings

Use these tips to help ensure effective parent involvement committee meetings:

  • Plan in advance by selecting meeting dates for the entire school year.
  • Find a meeting location that is central for all attendees or consider alternative ways for members to participate, for example by videoconference or teleconference.
  • Create an agenda for each meeting and circulate it to members in advance.
  • Record minutes and maintain financial records.
  • Inform all participants of any operational procedures at the beginning of the first meeting of the year.
  • Facilitate meetings so all members have the opportunity to participate.

Best practices

Effective parent involvement committees are those that:

  • prioritize student achievement, equity and well-being
  • focus on the needs and interests of all students
  • are composed of members who represent the diversity of the board
  • are actively involved in assisting school councils to engage parents, creating a welcoming environment, and recognizing the diversity of the parents within their school community
  • promote effective, ongoing communication among all partners in education
  • establish a positive relationship with the director of education and trustees
  • provide feedback to parents by letting them know how their advice and ideas have been considered
  • plan relevant and engaging meetings, drawing on the expertise of committee members
  • have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities
  • have a clear and consistent process for decision making and conflict resolution
  • are familiar with funding opportunities and resources provided by the Ministry of Education
  • maintain high ethical standards

The ministry has developed a handbook to help members understand the purpose, mandate, role, responsibilities, composition, function and operating procedures of parent involvement committees.

Resources