Parent poll reveals true cost of education funding shortfalls in Northern Ireland

05/11/18

New research launched today (Friday 2nd November 2018), shows nearly two thirds of parents (65%) say that the pressure on school budgets is having a negative impact on their child’s education.

Parentkind, the national charity that supports parents taking an active role in their child’s education, launches the findings from its latest annual parent survey of over 1000 parents and carers of school-age children in Northern Ireland.

The survey found that over two thirds (68%) of parents say they have been asked by their school to contribute to the school fund*, with a monthly average donation of £9.83 being made. Despite this, nearly three quarters (72%) of respondents say they do not know, or are not sure, of how this money is being spent.

Further findings from the research revealed that to help meet education funding shortfalls, parents have reported that schools have suggested and implemented the following measures:

  • Over a quarter (27%) of parents have been asked to pay to attend school events such as sports days
  • A quarter (25%) of respondents said they had been asked to pay for school clubs which used to be free; and
  • Over a quarter (27%) report their schools have reduced the number of classroom assistants and support staff with nine in 10 (91%) perceiving this cost-cutting measure to have a negative impact on their child’s education.

Amongst other cost-cutting measures that parents more frequently report, nearly nine in 10 (89%) say increasing class sizes and reducing the number of subjects on offer are also perceived to be amongst the most detrimental options.

These findings coincide with the launch on Monday 5th November 2018 of the Northern Ireland Parentkind Parents’ Parliament, a regional series of sessions in Northern Ireland culminating in a major event to be held in the Parliament Building in 2019. Parents, politicians and education stakeholders will come together to discuss school policies that impact directly on families, such as area-based planning, the curriculum and how to establish mechanisms for parental engagement and parent voice to be heard.

With the vast majority of parents in Northern Ireland saying they want to be able to influence education decisions at every level, within school (96%), local government (91%) and with the Education Authority (88%), the Parentkind Parents’ Parliament will seek to establish this as the norm. Today only a meagre proportion (9%) of parents feel able to express their views and be heard at local government level.

Jayne Thompson, Northern Ireland Programme Manager at Parentkind, commented on the findings saying: “It’s clear that parents are concerned about and feel the impact of funding shortfalls in their child’s school. To avoid the risk of these pressures falling disproportionately on those least able to pay, schools and parents should redouble their efforts to work together in PTAs and build on their successful legacy of supporting every child to learn and thrive.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact the Parentkind press office on Tel 07703054286 or via email at press@parentkind.org.uk

Download the full infographic here

Notes to editors
About Parentkind

Parentkind is the new name for PTA NI Parentkind champions all the ways that parents can participate in education and is the leading Parent Teacher Association (PTA) membership organisation and registered charity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Parentkind works in partnership with Parent Councils UK providing training to teachers, governors and parents to build successful home-school relationships. 

*Voluntary School Fund – Many schools request parents contribute to the ‘voluntary school fund’ which is specifically intended to be used to subsidise school trips or special activities in which the school wishes children to participate. It is accounted for separately to, but supplements the public money allocated to a school.

About the research

Fieldwork for this survey was carried out online and by telephone by LucidTalk. Respondents were recruited through its Opinion Panel and took part in the survey between 17th Aug and 5th Sept 2018. The final sample was of 1,071 parents who live in Northern Ireland and have at least one child aged between 5 and 18 attending a state school. The sample is balanced by gender, age-group, area of residence, and community background, in order to be demographically representative of Northern Ireland.

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