They are hungry for information about a much broader range of issues
Knowing that they are receiving the best in everything is vital

Knowing that they are receiving the best in everything is vital

Choosing a school for your child to attend is a difficult, tiring process, a number of factors need to be considered, location, reputation, development. However, new research indicates that you feel that you're not getting everything you require to make an informed decision.

Parents interviewed for 'A new conversation with parents: how can schools inform and listen in a digital age?' said that they aren't getting the depth and breadth of information that they would like.

Results show parents are calling for more meaningful, regular and comparable data both at school and pupil level, as well as the power to act on any concerns they might have.

Yvonne, mother of two, from London says: "Schools are more than just places to get academic qualifications. Schools are places where they learn manners, learn skills, how to make relationships as well as getting academic qualifications. I don't just want to know a piece of the story, I want the whole story."

Not only do they want frequent updates of progress, more parents want the power to act if they feel the school is not providing everything they can for their child. Sevnty-seven per cent called for the authority to trigger Ofsted inspections if they have serious concerns over teaching standards, and meet the inspectors if they feel necessary.

Research for the report, commissioned by the Pearson Centre for Policy and Learning, was carried out by family support organisation Family Lives and education commentator Fiona Millar.

Fiona says: "Parents are clearly exercising choice, carefully using a range of hard data and equally important 'soft' information. Most are getting into their first choice of schools and are broadly happy with the provision there. However, it is also clear that they see schools are more than places where their children simply get academic qualifications. They are hungry for information about a much broader range of issues.

"Over the last 20 years the school accountability system has given parents much of what they want, but that system needs to develop in different ways and parents' voices should be carefully listened to as part of that process."

While test and exam results came out as important, parents consider many other local and impressionistic factors, such as reputation, proximity, other children that already attend the school and their impression on the open evening.

Rod Bristow, president at Pearson UK, says: "Parents recognise that while exam results are important, they are just one measure of success. The way we currently measure schools is focused heavily around exams, but the message from parents is clear - they also want to incluse non-academic information such as progression, discipline and how their children interact with others.

"This research underlines that parents really want to play an active part in education - we must think beyond one-way transmission of information and more about a dialogue: a conversation between schools and parents.

"It is encouraging to see that government are already taking steps towards this. We would really like to see the government encouraging schools to share more data with parents to make sure taht they have all the information they need to make informed choices. Pearson would also like to hear from schools seeking to make progress on this to investigate how we can help drive the process forward."

The report makes recommendations including:

More comprehensive information: Information on teaching quality, behaviour and progress held by schools, local authorities, Ofsted and local government should be shared in a standardised, accessible way

More regular information: Schools should be obliged to provide more than an annual report of pupil progress

More accessible information: Schools should consider 'safe' ways of sharing the views of parents and pupils on a wide range of issues with the school and wider communities

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