Parent Voice Report 2021

This is the seventh wave of the survey since it began in September 2015. The study continues to track perceptions of key aspects of schooling, education and parent voice from year to year.

85% of parents want to play an active role in their child’s education.

Parents consistently tell us they want to be more involved in their child’s education and by bringing home and school closer together, all children will benefit. It is a well-evidenced fact that greater parental participation in education means a greater outcome for all children in all schools.

That’s why we invest heavily in representing parent views with our Parent Voice Report, our flagship piece of research, allowing us to understand and champion parent sentiment in schools and education as a whole.

The 2021 report is the result of our seventh Annual Parent Survey and it is representative of all people in a parenting role in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. As the authority on parent voice, we now have seven years of data that means we are able to track trends and continue to proactively identify key areas for concern for parents.

Key takeaway for schools 

80% of parents describe themselves as supportive of their child’s school but there are still concerns that need addressing.

Every year we ask those in a parenting role what their child’s school is doing right and where they feel improvements need to be made. Despite the unprecedented circumstances over the last year and a half, where children were learning from home for a proportion of the time, we still saw a consistently strong level of support from parents towards schools.

Key areas for concern

  • Secondary/post-primary school parents continue to show less confidence than primary school parents in their child’s happiness and safety at school, as well as in the quality of their education
  • Parent approval of the range of after school clubs and extra-curricular activities has dropped significantly (65% down from 71% in 2020) - unsurprising given social distancing requirements but important to watch
  • 51% of parents agree that the school offers good careers advice – though it has improved from 43% in 2019, quality of careers advice continues to remain a comparative area of concern

How do schools score on parental engagement and participation?

There is a well evidenced link between parental participation and academic attainment; here’s how parents reported on this critical area:

  • Parents’ overall sense of involvement with their child’s school and education continues to be significantly higher among younger parents, those in London, primary parents, parents from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, those eligible for free school meals (FSM), and those with a child with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND)
  • 54% of parents say their child’s school takes action based on their views or feedback
  • 51% feel they are able to have a say on school decisions that affect their child’s education
  • The second biggest barrier to parents getting involved with school life is not being asked (28%)
  • Most parents feel schools are communicating effectively on core issues but they report that schools are better at communicating about news and events or their child’s progress than in supporting learning at home/​outside school

A snapshot of parent views in 2021 

This year, parents told us that:

  • 85% want to play a more active role in their child’s education but in contrast only 54% feel that their child’s school acts on parent feedback
  • Self-confidence tops the list of important skills they want their child to leave primary (59%) and secondary/post-primary (53%) with and 88% feel that a good education goes beyond exam results
  • The top five concerns for their child’s mental health and well-being are exam stress (55%), anxiety (54%), homework related stress ( 49%), bullying (49%) and the pressure to constantly engage with social media (48%)
  • 45% have been asked to contribute to their child’s school fund and if more funding were available they would prioritise it for learning resources (47%) followed by child mental health (41%)
  • 58% believe that the current state education system enables children from more privileged backgrounds to succeed more than others
  • 77% are happy with the quality of their child’s education but only 51% agree that their child’s school offers good career advice

Download our Parent Voice Report