Annual Parent Survey 2017

Our Parent Voice Report 2017 is the third consecutive year that we have canvassed the opinion of a wide sample of over 1,500 parents who have a child currently attending a state school. Our respondents are independent of our PTA membership base.

Our Annual Parent Survey provides a snapshot of parents’ views about a range of issues relating to their child’s education and school life.

The large scale of the survey offers a significant and unique insight into what parents – key stakeholders in education – truly think about their child’s schooling.

Key findings 


Parents are key stakeholders in the education of their child, and so they should be able to positively contribute their views to schools and policy-makers. Our research shows that a large majority of parents would like schools and policy-makers to be more accountable to them, and there is an appetite for them to have a say in the education of their child at both local and national levels, especially through an open door policy’ at school. However, the confidence in giving their views decreases beyond the school level and among parents of lower socio-economic backgrounds.

In this area of research, our Annual Parent Survey 2017 found:

  • The overwhelming majority (84%) of parents would like schools to consult them on a regular basis
  • 75% say they understand how schools are accountable to them
  • Almost two-thirds (63%) say that schools should be more accountable to parents than they are currently
  • Only half (51%) of parents (compared to 56% in 2016) said that schools are taking action based on their views or feedback
  • Only 41% say they understand the changes government is making to education and schools (down from 47% in 2016)
  • Only half of parents (52%) say they understand how MATs, local authorities (LAs) and government are accountable to them over their child’s education

Social mobility

For a country to have good social mobility, it means that a person’s socio-economic background should not be a key determinant in their academic and career outcomes. Currently, children from a disadvantaged background in the UK are on average out-performed academically by their better-off peers, leading to narrower career pathways and employment options, so that the disadvantage lasts a lifetime and is perpetuated down the generations. The government has introduced measures in early years and schools to promote social mobility to help more disadvantaged children to achieve better outcomes.

As part of our survey, we asked parents about their awareness of social mobility initiatives in school, as well as about the expectations they hold for their child’s future. This has become topical because, until very recently, each new generation’s income grew relative to their parents’. But now, generational income growth has stopped, and parents’ expectations that their child’s quality of life will be better than theirs are no longer being met.

What we asked

We found out from parents:

  • How they support their child’s learning
  • Whether or not their child’s school does enough to provide all pupils with the opportunity to succeed in life
  • What their expectations for their child’s future are

What parents told us

We discovered that:

  • Only 56% believe their child’s school is doing enough to provide pupils with opportunities to succeed in life
  • 48% are also concerned about whether their child currently receives a better quality of education than they did
  • 52% believe their child’s career prospects are better than their own
  • 36% are concerned their child’s school is not preparing them for the modern-day job market

Our findings show that parents lack confidence that their child’s school is doing enough to help disadvantaged pupils, and there is also pessimism about their child’s career prospects. However, Parentkind believes that there is huge potential to turn this around. Parental engagement in a child’s education has been proven to improve both academic achievement and overall school experience for all children: parents being positively involved in education can help promote upward social mobility.

School funding

From previous surveys, we know that in recent times, schools have been looking at measures to save costs and make their budgets go further. We also know that more and more parents have been asked to make voluntary monthly contributions to the school fund, and that the numbers doing so are increasing. This is in spite of rising parental concern about the cost of their child attending school. 

Our research provides significant insight into key school funding issues such as:

  • The proportion of parents who think the cost of educating their child is increasing, as well as the number concerned by those costs
  • The main financial concerns parents have in paying for their child’s schooling
  • The proportion of parents approached by school for a voluntary financial contribution, as well as the number subsequently making regular donations
  • The amount parents are willing to donate to their child’s school
  • The percentage of donating parents who know how the school uses their financial contribution
  • The measures proposed or implemented by schools to cut costs, and which ones parents most strongly support

In conclusion

As the report shows, it’s possible to draw some key conclusions about parents’ views on school funding, including that:

  • Parents are increasingly concerned about the cost of sending a child to school
  • Parents are donating to their school fund in greater numbers, but with strong regional variations between their willingness to contribute as well as the amount they are willing to provide
  • Parents and schools favour different cost-cutting measures, but with some agreement
  • There is a clear top three in terms of the cost implications that concern parents the most

Our methodology 

The survey was conducted online by Research Now. Respondents were recruited through Research Now’s UK panel and took part in the survey between 20th August — 11th September 2017. It involved a sample of 1,507 parents from England (1,205), Northern Ireland (99) and Wales (203) who have at least one child aged 5–18 attending state school representative of the parent population by gender, age, social grade.

The sub-samples in Wales and Northern Ireland were boosted to achieve a large enough base of respondents to compare findings across the three regions (England, Northern Ireland and Wales). 

Download our Annual Parent Survey Reports