Parents want to know about social and emotional learning
The report 'A New Conversation With Parents' throws light on the dialogue that parents really want to have with their schools.
Researched by the charity Family Lives, it suggests that parents are interested in a far broader range of information than test results and Ofsted give them. It concludes that parents want more information about teaching quality, behaviour, bullying, exclusions, the progress of particular groups of pupils, their well-being and their social and emotional development:'
They also want to know about whether their children are happy at school, whether they are developing into well rounded, polite, confident, respectful young people and about what other parents think’.
Just as Ofsted is narrowing its range of judgements so the 1,124 parents surveyed suggest that they should continue to judge schools according to a wider brief. Judgements should still include how well schools nurture pupils’ social and emotional development, their effectiveness in working with and communicating with parents and the options they make available to young people who want a more practical, vocational curriculum.
Choosing a school is of far greater import than choosing a television or a car. However, parents are being provided with similar tools to enable them to make their choices.
The website School and Local Statistics enables parents to statistically compare schools in their local area. Parents are able to select two to five schools to compare test and exam results, pupil and workforce statistics and spend per pupil. According to A New Conversation With Parents, this website does not provide the information that parents are looking for or appreciate the factors, such as proximity and local reputation, that lead to parents choosing a school.
How Parent View works
Parents are asked to indicate whether their child:
- is happy
- is safe
- makes good progress
- is well looked after
- is taught well
- receives appropriate homework.
They are asked if the school:
- makes sure its pupils are well behaved
- deals effectively with bullying
- is well led and managed
- responds well to any concerns
- provides valuable information about progress
Is Parent View a good thing?
Family Lives found mixed reactions to Parent View, the website that allows parents to make comments to Ofsted about their child’s school throughout the year. The majority of parents did think there should be more opportunities to communicate with inspectors but there was less certainty about whether the views of parents should be able to trigger an inspection.
Comments from the profession on Parent View
The NUT says, ‘What is important for parents is that they have a voice in schools and that their views are taken seriously. It’s not clear therefore why parents, who may have quite legitimate questions to which they seek answers, would choose this route.’
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT says, ‘Ofsted’s website is open to easy abuse… The solution is simple: parents should be accountable for their feedback. The school doesn’t need to know their names, but Ofsted should.’
Paul Hussey, ex-headteacher and SIP suggests that ‘as ever, the parents who have a complaint will be more likely to fill in a response, those that are happy probably will not. Many prudent schools will alert their parents to the 12 questions themselves and encourage as wide a response as possible to ensure a representative sample of views are available to governors and Ofsted.’