APPG — 28th November 2022

Members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Parental Participation in Education heard presentations from Skills Builder’s Universal Framework, the National Education Union on school funding and ourselves on our newly released data from our eighth edition of our Parent Voice Report.

Members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Parental Participation in Education gathered in Westminster on 28th November 2022. The group exists to promote the benefits of parents actively participating in their child’s education, and of building close and successful relationships between homes and schools. 

Parent Voice Report 2022

Our research manager presented newly released data from its latest annual parent survey. The findings are set to be published in a Parent Voice Report. The survey gathers the views of thousands of parents across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and ensures that demographics are collected so that the opinions of a wide range of parents are captured. Three main themes were school funding and the cost of living, parental participation and mental health and wellbeing. MPs, peers and education stakeholders heard that:

  • More lower-income families are being asked to contribute to the school fund. School uniforms, meals, transport, extra-curricular trips are parents’ biggest concerns.
  • Barriers to getting involved are time, costs (especially for lower income parents) and not being formally asked.
  • Parents’ concerns about mental health reduced a little compared to results from recent years. The most commonly reported issues are exam stress and anxiety. However, there is a worrying 5–8% reporting more serious incidents such as bullying or sexual harassment.

The presentation concluded with the expectation that there will likely be more pressure on mental health services in schools as a result of the cost of living crisis. To ensure best access to services, it would be useful for schools to engage with parents when developing policies on how they deal with mental health issues. There is always value in improving their communication with parents. 

Skills Builder’s Universal Framework

The Framework is the product of five years of research and design. The aim is to make it possible for everyone to teach, learn, and measure eight essential skills throughout life, from beginner to mastery. The eight essential skills are listening, speaking, problem-solving, creativity, staying positive, aiming high, leadership and teamwork. Higher levels of essential skills tend to lead to higher earnings over a lifetime. Individuals with top quartile skills were 39% more likely to have parents who were very engaged in their education, showing that parental engagement plays a vital role in essential skills development in young people. 

The National Education Union (NEU) on the Stop School Cuts campaign and school funding

In a presentation called School funding: crisis postponed’, the NEU explained that, through the Chancellor’s increase in education spending, school funding is due to rise by 6.5% next year. The difficulty is that inflation is estimated to be 7.4%. UNESCO has found that high income countries spend an average of 5% of their GDP on education, whereas it is 4.2% in England. After the introduction of the National Funding Formula for schools, almost every region has seen its funding decline. There is also a looming crisis in the funding of education provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The number of children with additional needs has doubled since 2015, where funding has only increased by 80%, leaving a gap of £3 billion per year. A further warning was that in excess of £25 billion less has been invested in school buildings over the last 12 years than it would have been if 2010 levels had been maintained. This is a problem because many school buildings are in urgent need of repair. The NEU is asking the government to ensure that over 5% of national wealth is spent on education.