Parentkind’s Survey of Parents in Northern Ireland was conducted for the first time this year to give a more robust picture of the views of parents in the region. Many of the topics covered mirror what we have been tracking more broadly through our Annual Parent Survey (APS); however, not only is our sample of parents living in Northern Ireland much larger (1,071 respondents) than the one we polled through the APS, but some of the questions and key demographic breaks have been modified to reflect the specific context of 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.”
Read the full NI Parent Survey report here
About the research
Download the full infographic here
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.