As someone with a parenting role, there are several opportunities to have a say about how your child’s school operates. Whether you’d like to give feedback on a school change or approach the school with a specific issue, there are a number of ways you can have your say as an individual.
School surveys and consultations
You could take part in surveys and consultations about the school. Some schools will consult parents and ask for their feedback on things such as school uniform policy, trips, changes to the school environment or changes to the school day.
Make sure you are signed up to receive school communications to stay informed of any changes happening at school and be notified of any opportunity to give your views.
If the school doesn’t ask for parents’ views, and you’d like them to, approach a member of staff to see whether they would be willing to implement a way to gather feedback.
These agreements between school and home set out the school's aims and values, its responsibilities towards its pupils, the responsibilities of the pupil's parents, and what is expected of pupils. They include a mixture of things like attendance rules, uniform and homework policies and requests such as attending parent consultations.
If you’re don’t agree with any of the policies and requests written in the agreement, you can raise them with the school and make suggestions for changes to be made.
Feedback to independent inspection services
There are three organisations responsible for independently inspecting schools in the UK; Ofsted (England), Estyn (Wales) and ETI (Northern Ireland).
Schools should notify parents of inspection dates and parents are actively encouraged to give their views. Ask whether there’s an opportunity for parents to speak to inspectors during their visit. Following an inspection, the report will be published online so you can see the outcome.
It’s important to note that these services do not investigate individual, specific issues. The school will have a procedure for this and any concerns should, in the first instance, be brought to the school’s attention.
If you have any complaints or enquiries about the inspection you should contact the relevant organisation.
How can parents contribute to inspections?
In England: Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education)
At inspection time
Schools will notify parents of the dates and provide details about how parents can offer views. If you are unable to make it to the school in person, there should be provision to speak to the inspectors by phone.
At any time
Ofsted’s Parent View survey is the main source Ofsted uses to gather parents’ views which gives parents the opportunity to have a say about their child’s school over a variety of issues, any time. It comprises a survey of basic set questions where parents indicate how strongly they agree or disagree. Data is collated into a three-monthly report and the results are published online.
In Wales: Estyn
At inspection time
The school must provide all parents with the details on how to complete an anonymous online questionnaire; you will be provided with a five digit code unique to your child’s school. If you’re unable to complete this online a hard copy can be returned to Estyn.
The inspection will also meet informally with parents during inspection to find out more about the school. If you cannot attend the meeting or would prefer to talk in private, the reporting inspector will try to arrange this for you. However, this may not always be possible.
In Northern Ireland: ETI (Education Training Inspectorate)
At inspection time
You can give views and opinions on the school by completing a confidential online questionnaire. If you have any difficulties in accessing of completing this you should contact the Inspection Services Team. Contact with the reporting inspector may also be arranged through a telephone call or email to the Inspection Services Team.
Inspection of post primary schools
Inspection of primary schools
Talk to the school
Any concerns you have as a parent, whether about school funding, health and safety, or a specific issue relating to your child, can be raised directly with the school.
The school will have a policy to deal with any concerns; the process may vary from school to school but you should start by approaching the school directly. Speak to a relevant member of staff to see if they are willing to work with you; depending on the issue you may be referred to a teacher, the head teacher, parent group, governing body or local authority.