Major new Parentkind research — over a quarter of a million parents have a say on school closures and coronavirus fears

06 May 2020
Schools have been closed to most pupils for a few weeks now, so we caught up with parents to see how they were getting on.

Our latest research into parents’ concerns about coronavirus, school closures and the impact on the education of children struck a chord with parents across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. An unprecedented 257,392 completed our short survey, and responses were still coming in thick and fast by the time we closed it at the advertised time of 9am on Monday 4th May.

Over quarter of a million parents gave their views

It is enormously encouraging for us to hear from such a large number of parents on an issue that we know is of crucial importance to family life. Many parents have fears about the impact this crisis is having and may continue to have on their child’s learning and attainment, as well as their mental health, socialisation and well-being. Not only that, but parents have to remember to look after themselves – which is not easy when juggling working from home or unemployment while children are home-learning, and all without the support from grandparents or friends. 

What parents told us

We’d like to thank each and every parent for taking the time to sit down and tell us about their experience of school closures. Below are the headlines.

If you’d like to find out more about the regional breakdowns, you can view them on these graphics here:

The vast majority of parents do not want to see their children return to school immediately after the UK governments end lockdown:

  • 40% of parents do not wish to consider a timeframe until safety is assured, whether that’s from government or school leaders/​teachers
  • An additional almost 10% of parents say they will only send their children back to school when staff and pupils have been vaccinated, even if that is in 12 to 18 months’ time 
  • A quarter of parents feel comfortable with sending their children back to school in September, but seek confirmation of timeframe now.

More key findings

  • 40% of parents have the same amount of worry about the impact of coronavirus and school closures on their child’s education than they had at the start of school closures. 31% are less worried, but over a quarter (26%) say that they are more worried now. 
  • We asked parents to select their top three biggest concerns out of a list of seventeen. Their top five concerns were:
    • My child not seeing their friends or socialising (selected by 48% of respondents) 
    • My child missing out on learning from teachers (selected by 38% of respondents)
    • One or more family members contracting Covid-19 (selected by 35% of respondents)
    • My child’s mental health (selected by 35% of respondents) 
    • My ability to juggle working and supporting my child’s learning (selected by 31% respondents)
  • Nearly half of parents (47%) say that they are coping with lockdown measures quite well’, and more than one in five (22%) very well; but a quarter (25%) say they are only coping so so’, and 6% not very or not at all well.
  • More than four in ten parents (43%) are coping quite well’ with their child being off school, and a quarter (25%) are coping very well’. However, almost a quarter (24%) indicate that they are only doing so so’, where 8% are doing not very well or not at all well.
  • Schools’ communication with parents has been good. 45% of parents said that their child’s school had communicated with them during school closures very well’, and an additional 40% quite well’, leaving 85% of parents satisfied. However, 14% indicated that they had been communicated with not very well’ or not at all well’.
  • Parents were satisfied with the home learning support given by their child’s school. 43% were very satisfied and 39% quite satisfied, indicating a level of 82% of satisfied parents. Nevertheless, the 16% of parents who were not satisfied will need further clarity and/​or resources. 
  • More than three quarters of parents (77%) say that their school has communicated its expectations of them whilst it is closed. 18% indicated that schools had not given them this clarity, and 5% did not know.

What we’d like to happen next

Parentkind is sharing the headline results with media and politicians, and will release a full report in due course.

It’s clear from the sheer volume of survey responses we received that parents want to be listened to about when their children should return to school. Parents are desperately seeking clarity and reassurance about schools re-opening, what measures will be put in place to ensure their child’s education doesn’t suffer long-term, and how the mental health implications for young people will be addressed. The weight of our research and the strength of parent voice is a call to action for UK governments to listen to parents when it comes to re-opening schools, phasing children back into classrooms, and minimising the disruption to home life and the education of children. Parentkind is proud to champion the importance of parents’ opinions, and will continue to act as a voice for them on this issue.”

John Jolly, CEO of Parentkind
Thank you for your support

Our survey was an independent project, following on from our research when school closures were first announced. It was created to gauge a snapshot of parents’ views, with the objective to keep parents part of the conversation on school closures. Many of you in England came to our survey after it was shared by the Department for Education on their Facebook page. We are very grateful to their support in getting the word out about the survey. Stakeholders in Wales and Northern Ireland were also instrumental in spreading the word. We’d like to thank all the parents, PTAs, schools, education organisations and charities as well as individual politicians and stakeholders who told their followers about our survey. We would not have achieved such a high level of response without your invaluable support. Together, we have amplified parent voice on this issue, and our findings have been shared with government education departments, teaching unions and others, to provide parents with a voice in decision-making.