Ruth Lowe, External Affairs Manager at Parentkind considers the Education Green Paper

12/12/16

Today (12th December 2016) the consultation on a key government education policy is closing. The ‘Schools that Work for Everyone’ consultation has been in the press on numerous occasions since its release in September, at the start of the new school year. Be it discussions on the opening of new grammar schools or whether faith schools should cater for children of one faith only, the debates have been heated and lengthy. However, in all of this, one notable and important voice has been missing. That’s the voice of parents.

You can have your say on the consultation by completing the survey on the Department for Education website here – you have until midnight tonight!

At Parentkind we have submitted our response to the consultation and have been able to give a parent perspective, using feedback from our recent national annual Parent Survey. Although there is good support for ideas such as increasing the number of grammar schools (46%) and independent schools financing bursaries for disadvantaged students, a third of parents (30%) demonstrate a level of uncertainty about key proposals in the consultation. This is true across all four proposals relating to state schools set up by universities and independent schools, grammar schools and faith schools. In light of the consultation these figures are surprising.

To understand the challenges parents face and to devise education policies that support all families and children, it is crucial that parents are engaged and heard at all government levels. Yet four out of 10 (42%) parents tell us that they believe the Government does not listen to them when it comes to their views on their children’s education.

To provide parents with ‘choice and control’ (as asserted in the consultation) in their child’s education, PTA UK would welcome greater consideration of and details on how all schools, present and future, seek and incorporate feedback from parents in a genuine way. Parents tell us they want a say in their child’s education (85% of parents agree with this), yet with reference to any of the suggested school types given in the Government’s consultation, no details are included on how parents’ views and comments about their child’s education will be incorporated as part of the strategy to ensure access to a good school for all families.

Without the mechanism to fully inform parents and have the opportunity to share their views and preferences in a genuine way, both choice and control for parents is clearly reduced.

The uncertainty among parents about the Government proposals is visible. If the Government’s goal is to create an education landscape that gives parents choice and control, Parentkind suggests and indeed urges a broader debate that includes all parents, to reflect and build education options parents would like to choose from. To this end, PTA UK has offered to support the Department for Education in developing and delivering strategies to ensure parents have a greater opportunity to be involved in and heard in national education policy debates.

Research Now was commissioned by PTA UK to carry out the survey of 1214 parents in England in October/November 2016. Read the results in more detail here.

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