Northern Ireland parents keen to see their children back in the classroom

18/02/21

More than a third of parents across Northern Ireland told us in a recent poll they want their children to return to school as soon as the current lockdown ends. The option to return to school as soon as the current lockdown ends is especially favoured among parents of P1, P2 and P3 year groups. Parents of a child with SEN are less likely to want their children to return as soon as lockdown finishes.

Results also revealed parents preferred a blended learning approach if schools cannot initially reopen to all children. This would see alternate weeks in schools for face-to-face learning, in between weeks of remote learning from home. However, more than 40% of P1-P3 and P6 parents favoured their own child's year group returning first. At post-primary level, although almost half (49%) of parents overall favoured blended learning, those respondents with children in exam cohorts were overwhelmingly likely to want their children back in the classroom first. For both Y12 and Y14 parents, 64% want to see their child’s year group pupils return first.

Jayne Thompson, Parentkind’s Head of Northern Ireland says, “The sheer volume of parents responding to this survey on the full reopening of schools indicates that this is an important issue to them. The option preferred by the most parents was that they wanted their child back in the classroom, but parents are aware of the continuing threat of the virus by calling for a blended learning approach in the event of partial reopening. Understanding parents’ circumstances is important: those with a child with SEN are less inclined to favour an immediate return, preferring to wait for a scientific consensus on safety, and their voices too must be heard. The negative impact the disruption to schooling is having on young people and their parents' psychological wellbeing is widely reported. That is why it is imperative that schools are reopened as safely and as soon as possible.  Parentkind fully supports parent voice and urges policy-makers to take into account parents' views and concerns at this crucial time in the education of our children.”

Methodology - Parentkind Northern Ireland Coronavirus Survey – February 2021

A short online survey, promoted to parents of school age children via social media, which was active between 9pm on 9th February and 8am on 17th February 2021. 732 parents completed the survey. Parents with more than one child were invited to answer some of the questions for a second child. 185 parents did so, and explains why some of the questions have more responses than 732.  Please note percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Also, not every parent answered every question.

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