This paper illustrates some of the tensions and contradictions in schools' attempts to develop parental and family involvement through a case study of parental involvement in an Education Action Zone. It focuses on how schools constructed parental involvement, the kinds of work they engaged in, the issues raised in managing and resourcing parental involvement projects, the perceived benefits of running the projects and the likelihood of the projects being sustainable. It is argued that the models of parental involvement that schools developed had important consequences for the role parents were allowed to play. Varying roles impose different kinds of demands on schools and parents and require different kinds of relationship between schools, parents and the local community. The more expansive the view of parental involvement, the greater the costs in running such projects and, hence, particularly in poor areas, the less chance of them being sustainable. Moreover, there were evident contradictions between the standards and inclusion dimensions of parental involvement projects. In particular, there was, and is, an evident tension for the schools around constructing parents as a resource for schools to tap into in the drive to raise standards and constructing the school as a resource for parents and the wider community to tap into in the drive to promote local regeneration and inclusion. This is being resolved in favour of the standards agenda.