Parents back schools’ pandemic response, but worry about lost learning

The vast majority of parents feel that their school has responded well to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the latest Ofsted parent survey, 87 per cent of parents responding felt their school had responded to the pandemic either ‘very well’ or ‘somewhat well’. Just 8 per cent said their child’s school had handled things ‘not very well’ and only 3 per cent ‘not at all well’.

The survey, which was conducted by YouGov between 9 and 26 March 2021, received responses from 1018 parents. Of these, 916 were parents of school age children, while 102 had pre-school aged children attending a childcare setting. The annual survey focuses on parents’ experiences and perceptions of Ofsted, but this year also included questions around schools’ response to the pandemic. Nearly seven in ten (69 per cent) of respondents said they had received guidance or training from their school to help them support their child’s remote learning, although this was higher among those with children at primary school (74 per cent) compared to secondary school (63 per cent).

However, although they were overwhelmingly positive about the way in which their school had responded, around two thirds of parents (65 per cent) reported that they were worried about their child’s learning loss and their mental health, and nearly half (45 per cent) were concerned over their children’s physical health. Parents of children with SEND were more likely to be concerned about the impact on mental health, compared to those whose children did not have SEND (77 per cent to 63 per cent).

Commenting on the survey, Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said: ‘This survey highlights just how much parents appreciate the huge effort and creativity schools have shown to help them educate their children at home. Of course, there was only so much children were able to learn while schools were closed for lockdown, so it’s not surprising that so many parents are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their child’s education, as well as their mental and physical wellbeing. Our visits and inspections have also reflected these concerns. But now children are back in the classroom, I know teachers across the country will be doing all they can to bring them up to speed and help them to flourish.’

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL school leaders union also commented ‘Ofsted’s survey findings are a glowing testimony to the incredible hard work and commitment of our schools and colleges during what has been the most difficult year for education in living memory. The pandemic has been hard for everyone in every walk of life but school and college leaders and their staff have led by example, rising to challenge after challenge to ensure our young people get the education they need, whatever the circumstances.’

Among other findings from the survey, of those parents who had read an Ofsted inspection report over 8 in 10 said they found it useful, while the same number said they felt the report portrayed an accurate picture of the school or childcare provider. However the percentage of parents of school age children who were aware of Ofsted’s rating at their school’s last inspection had declined to 84 per cent, from 88 per cent last year. This may be down to disruption caused by the pandemic, Ofsted suggests.

The full report can be found here: 

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