Our Annual Parent Survey suggests that parents lack clarity and trust in school governance

School accountability survey results

Our latest research shows that despite three quarters (76%) of parents wanting to have a say on a range of issues at school level, only a fifth (18%) of parents of children in local authority maintained schools strongly agree that their school listens to them. In standalone academy schools this drops to less than one in ten (8%).

Half (50%) of all parents feel that schools need to be more accountable to them. Whilst 80% of parents trust school leaders, a substantially lower proportion trust leaders at Government, Local Authority, Education Authority or Multi Academy Trust level to deliver the best education for their children:

  • 57% parents say they trust MATs and local government leaders and even fewer – less than four in 10 (38%) – say they trust central government.

Our report clearly shows a lack of clarity about school governance models by parents.

Parent Voice
  • Half (50%) of respondents say their child’s school listens to their views;
  • Only a quarter (27%) believe local authorities or multi Academy Trusts listen to their views.
  • Fewer than one in four (23%) think central government listens to their views;
  • Half (49%) believe their child’s school takes action based on their views/feedback;
  • Half (50%) say their child’s school should be more accountable to parents than they currently are; and
  • Only 4 in ten (41%) feel able to have a say on school decisions that affect their child’s education.

Our research also showed that fewer parents are giving feedback at any level with over half (55%) of parents saying they did not raise any issues or give feedback at any level this year compared to four in ten (42%) in 2018.

Parents in Wales were more likely to contribute ideas (55%) compared to England (44%) and Northern Ireland (39%). Welsh parents are also more likely to agree that they want their voice heard at local government level (26% strongly agree versus 15% in England and 14% in Northern Ireland).

Parents’ understanding of the different school governance models

Our study found parents’ understanding of the different school governance models was patchy:

  • While nearly all parents (91%) said they have heard of an academy, only half (51%) feel they would be able to explain what it is;
  • Awareness of Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) is lower with less than half (49%) of respondents saying they have heard of them and only one in five (19%) being able to explain what they are;
  • Even among parents whose children attend a school governed by a MAT, only two in five (40%) feel they are able to explain what it is;
  • Less than half (49%) know that MAT schools are inspected by Ofsted;
  • More than a third (36%) of respondents incorrectly believe that schools in MATs are bound to follow the National Curriculum; and
  • Only a third of parents (32%) know that MATs can decide teachers’ salaries independently of the Department for Education.

John Jolly, our CEO commented on the findings, saying:

“Parents are clearly interested in sharing their views but the complexity of our school governance models has led to blurred lines of accountability and confusion over how to be able to have a voice and contribute their ideas.  It’s worrying to see that parents have considerably lower levels of trust - beyond the school gates - in those responsible for delivering a first class education to our children. 

As politicians across the spectrum promote the opportunities their parties will deliver under a new Government, they should not forget the value parents can bring to their own child’s learning, their schools, the local community and society as a whole. They should encourage parental engagement with clearer mechanisms for participation with a requirement for a consultative parent body in every school.”

Further reading

See our joint guidance with the National Governance Association on why engaging with and involving parents is key to good governance.

View the full accountability infographic here.
Read more and download the full accountability report here.
Download our full accountability Policy Position here.

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