Parents feel powerless to influence government education policy and want more say

12/12/16

Our latest research launched on Friday (9 December 2016), as part of a response to the government’s Education Green Paper ‘Schools that work for everyone’, reveals that over four out of 10 (42%) people believe the government does not listen to them when it comes to their views on their children’s education, and three in 10 (31%) say they are not confident their views are being heard.

In a survey of 1,214 people in England, more than eight out of 10 (85%) said they wanted more of a say in their child’s education and reported a low level of engagement in education policy. Approximately a third demonstrating a level of uncertainty about key proposals in the Green Paper relating to state schools set up by universities and independent schools, grammar schools and faith schools.

The findings showed:

  • 46% of parents agree with an increase in selective (grammar) schools, while a larger number are unsure (36%) and disagree (18%)
  • 51% of parents agree that independent schools should sponsor state schools or set up new good schools, while 37% are unsure and 12% disagree
  • Over two thirds (68%) of parents agree that independent schools should provide more bursaries for those who cannot afford to attend
  • Almost six in 10 (59%) parents agree universities should sponsor or set up new schools while 33% are unsure about this option
  • Nearly half (47%) of parents agree that faith schools should be more diverse and inclusive by being required to show demand for school places from parents of other faiths, yet over a third (38%) are unsure.

When it comes to faith schools, parent opinion is fairly evenly split with 33% of parents saying they would like the opportunity to send their child to a faith school, while 29% are unsure and 35% disagree.

Meanwhile a third (32%) of parents think faith schools should be allowed to have 100% children of that faith at the school, but one in three (30%) are unsure and 33% disagree.

Over a quarter of respondents (28%) believe faith schools offer a better education; however, 71% of parents from all backgrounds agree that clarity on and teaching of core values should be part of the curriculum in every school.

Michelle Doyle Wildman, Policy and Communications Director of PTA UK, said:
“Our research has demonstrated the level of uncertainty within the parent population when it comes the Government’s proposals for England’s schools. Though in theory some may take a principled approach to what should be available, whether that’s more grammar schools or greater access to faith schools, the reality is different when they consider the real options on the table for their own children.

“PTA UK recommends that we need a broader debate and more rigorous research that involves parents in creating and developing the different school options to ensure that they are better-informed, have genuine choice and are assured their family’s needs are met.

“When polled, 85% of parents told us they want a say in their child’s education. PTA UK has offered to support the Department for Education in exploring ways to engage parents in education policy and in holding schools in any new system to account. We believe that only through this direct engagement with parents, will we be able to establish a school service which truly delivers positive outcomes for every child.”

Research Now was commissioned by PTA UK to carry out the survey of 1,214 parents in England in October/November 2016.

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