Role and parental involvement in the Portuguese secondary school: Challenges and changes

Marisa Costa, research fellow at Lusíada University, Lisboa, Portugal

Luísa Faria, Associated Professor with Aggregation at Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Porto. Porto, Portugal

The article “Parenting and Parental Involvement in Secondary School: Focus Groups with Adolescents’ Parents” published in the journal Paidéia (v. 27, n. 67), aimed at studying the perceptions of adolescents’ parents on their role and involvement as well as the family-school partnership in Portuguese secondary education, researchers from the University of Porto conducted focus groups with parents in two public schools.

From the conducted analysis, these researchers concluded that the establishment of rules, monitoring and parental support are the most challenging and important parental functions for the personal, social and academic development of their adolescent children, influencing the acquisition of their autonomy and independence.

Regarding parental involvement in school education, parents reported that it tends to change during schooling, especially in secondary education, because the academic demands increase, there is a lack of school preparation for parents, the adolescents’ autonomy increases and the interaction and communication style of teachers becomes less close. In this context, corroborating studies in the field, some types of parental involvement, characteristic of the first years of schooling, seem to lose effectiveness (e.g. support in school homework, participation in school meetings) in promoting academic success in this cycle of education.

As for the family-school partnership, the parents shared diverse experiences on their promotion and development. In fact, the group of parents with the greatest participation in school meetings perceived their relationship with the teachers as being agile, despite sometimes assuming a lack of proactivity. On the other hand, the parents with lower level of participation assumed the responsibility for the fact, since they evaluated the attitude of the teachers as being open to the parental initiatives and of effort to attract them to the school.

In conclusion, the transition to secondary education involves academic challenges and complex decision-making processes, especially vocational ones, along with the regulation of peer socialization and the reformulation of relationships with parents (GINEVRA; NOTA; FERRARI, 2015), that can and should act as facilitators and as protectors of successful transition and development processes (SIMPKINS et al., 2009; SPER, 2005).


GINEVRA, M., NOTA, L. and FERRARI, L. Parental support in adolescents’ career development: Parents‘and children’s perceptions. The Career Development Quarterly, 2015, vol. 63, no. 1, pp. 2-15, ISSN: 2161-0045 [viewed 15 october 2017]. DOI: 10.1002/j.2161-0045.2015.00091.x. Avaliable from:

SIMPKINS, S. D. et al. Adolescent adjustment and patterns of parents’ behaviors in early and middle adolescence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 2009, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 530-557, ISSN: 1532-7795 [viewed 15 October 2017]. DOI: 10.1111/j.1532-7795.2009.00606.x. Avaliable from:

SPERA, C. A review of the relationship among parenting practices, parenting styles, and adolescent school achievement. Educational Psychology Review, 2005, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 125-146, ISSN: 1573-336X [viewed 15 October 2017]. DOI: 10.1007/s10648-005-3950-1. Avaliable from:

To read the article, access

COSTA, M.  and FARIA, L. Parenting and Parental Involvement in Secondary School: Focus Groups with Adolescents’ Parents. Paidéia (Ribeirão Preto) [online]. 2017, vol.27, no.67, pp.28-36, ISSN 0103-863X [viewed 03 January 2018]. DOI: 10.1590/1982-43272767201704. Available from:

External links

Paidéia (Ribeirão Preto) – PAIDEIA:


Como citar este post [ISO 690/2010]:

COSTA, M. and FARIA, L. Role and parental involvement in the Portuguese secondary school: Challenges and changes [online]. SciELO in Perspective: Humanities, 2018 [viewed ]. Available from:


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