Annual Parent Survey 2019

Parentkind's vision is that the contribution parents make to their child's education is considered essential to their success by society, schools and parents themselves. To achieve this, and to strengthen parent voice in the discussion of education topics, we find out what parents really think about the issues that directly affect them.

Our Annual Parent Survey, now in its fifth year, gauges parental views from a large sample size of 1,500 parents (1,200 in England, 200 in Wales and 100 in Northern Ireland). The survey is independently distributed to a cross-section of parents outside of Parentkind membership. This ensures that the results really are indicative of what parents have to say when it comes to their child's education and schooling. School funding data – poorer families contributing more to their school fund?

Key findings

1. Parents still contributing financially to schools

We continue to track parental attitudes on the key issue of school funding to build a year-on-year picture of the effect tightening budgets have on parents' finances and their child's school experience. This year, the results show that over half of parents are concerned about the cost of sending a child to school, and most feel that the cost is increasing. We also found that parents whose child is eligible for free school meals (FSM) report that they are more likely to have been asked to make voluntary donations to their school fund, that a greater proportion of them are donating, and that they give higher monthly payments compared to their more affluent peers. Parents continue to report being asked to pay for things that used to be free, such as school clubs, concerts and sports days, while stretched school budgets are seeing money-saving measures normalised in many schools. Parents also tell us how they would like additional funds to be prioritised.

Our latest research shows:

  • 76% of parents think that the cost of sending children to school is increasing and more than half (51%) agree that they are worried about such cost
  • Parents’ concern about the cost of schooling continues to be highest in relation to uniforms (46%), school trips (44%) and school meals/drinks (19%)
  • Parents of children who are eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) are more likely to feel costs are increasing (38% strongly agree vs 31% of parents whose children are not eligible) and to be concerned about them (29% strongly agree vs 15%)
  • Concern over the cost of uniforms is significantly higher for parents whose children are eligible for FSM (61% vs 44%); this is also true about the cost school trips (49% vs 43%) and the cost of school extra-curricular events such as concerts and sport days which parents are asked to pay for (20% vs 13%)
  • 38% of parents reported being asked by their child’s school for a donation to the school fund and 29% donate
  • Parents of children eligible for FSM (45%) were more likely to be asked to donate than those not eligible (38%)
  • The most common cost-cutting solutions that parents report seeing implemented by schools were being asked to pay for school clubs which used to be free (22%) and for events such as sport days or concerts (20%)
  • 55% of parents believe that any potential extra funding available to schools should be spent on learning resources (55%) and 43% think so of IT equipment.

Parentkind position on school funding

We commend all parent groups for the invaluable fundraising efforts they make on behalf of their schools. We welcome recent promises from the government to add substantially to school funding, but even then, academy trusts, governors and school leaders must continue to consult with their parent communities about how school funding is affecting them. This can be achieved most effectively by using a consultative parent body such as a parent council, and ensuring parental engagement is maximised through adoption of our Blueprint for Parent-Friendly Schools.

Read more and download the full report (pdf)
Download our full school funding Policy Position (pdf)
View the full infographic (pdf)

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