On the other hand, numerous studies have shown that when parents are involved by being given responsibility for a certain area, they will be involved and their involvement will not be individualistic, for their own children only. There is a considerable amount of experiences throughout Europe, some of them consolidated, showing the advantages of families being involved in school life as real partners. Even if not following Epstein et al (1997) typology of parental involvement, Deforges and Abouchaar (2003) on their review highlight how "spontaneous parental involvement" do "have an impact pupils achievement and adjustment in schools", regardless of social class and ethnicity, in different countries, namely in continental Europe, Scandinavia and the UK. Besides reviews, a considerable number of projects are nowadays addressing this issue, e.g. the European Research Network About Parents in Education (ERNAPE) and N??ra Rit??k's work ???Not only children need to be taught???, in the Real Pearl Foundation.
On the other hand, it is also true that many families are concerned essentially with the needs and well being of their own children at school, but usually do not take part in the construction and in the debate of the school educational project, neither in the education model discussion, whenever it takes place. The question is whether there is a willingness on the side of the school to involve them and whether the school approaches them in the right way. Teachers often only involve parents in the individual schooling processes of their children mainly to inform them or to complain about their behaviour or learning difficulties, but let them alone to solve the problems which they themselves, as professionals, are often unable to solve: to respond to individual difficulties, to promote better learning and equity in achievement.
Moreover, the weaker the parents' capacity in initiating an intelligent dialogue for intervention and to understand the school discourse, the weaker their children???s achievement, as international testing has put in evidence. The above mentioned good practices and others show that if parents are addressed well and approached openly, they will engage in school education, often as part of their own lifelong learning (see, for example, Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships and National Parents Council Primary.
Sometimes, the existing structures for parents' intervention don???t allow, an effective participation, according to their roles and expectations. In Portuguese schools, as in other countries, a structure exists for the participation of partners in school life, "the school governing board", (Conselho Geral/General Board) gathering representatives of parents together with the representatives of teachers, other school staff, students, local authorities with education policy responsibilities, as well as other social and economic and cultural partners, all of them elected by their peers. The number of these members foresees the need to make coalitions in order to get the majority of votes in the decision processes. To perceive the relevance of this Board, it should be added that the respective mission covers the selection of the school head, the school educational project approval, and other school normative tools, as well as both the annual budget and the accounts report. To what extent this example shows that training the parents for school board participation, selection and accountability towards the parental community of the school is necessary?
The truth is that in the analyses of the Portuguese external evaluation reports Veloso et al. (2013) refer to the concern of schools in involving local communities in the school life, highlighting the involvement of parents in school life as having a long tradition and constituting an important concern in public schools. Data show that parents participate in school life in response to schools' initiatives to integrate them in school life, as members of different boards and as target groups for information sessions on how to follow their children's path and progress.
The patterns of parents' participation vary from region to region, depending on the school dynamics, which the authors categorize in three groups: in traditional schools, parents' participation is clearly more reduced than in innovative schools, where school leaders, namely the ones responsible for the class work coordination and tutorship, truly take the lead, follow the educational path of every student under their coordination, and together with class teachers, involve parents in the discussion of individual achievement and class performance, personalizing and valuing efforts and motivation, demonstrating a great involvement in their leadership role. In a different group, which the authors call the "diffuse schools", parents' participation in the school boards, is highly valued, according to the legal dispositions, and in school life in general.