Ofsted has launched a new online questionnaire, Parent View, which allows parents and carers to give their views on their child’s school at any time of the year. But the NUT has questioned the purpose of the new system, and claimed it’s “open to abuse”.
Ofsted says Parent View, which covers over 22,000 schools across England, will help parents make important choices about their child’s education and provide information about schools to help inform priorities for inspection.
The questionnaire covers a range of topics, from quality of teaching and bullying to levels of homework and behaviour. The final question asks if parents would recommend the school to other parents.
Ofsted says it does not allow ‘free text’ comments, but invites responses to a series of closed questions.
Launching Parent View, Ofsted Chair Baroness Sally Morgan said:
“Parents know how valuable the insight of other mums and dads can be when making choices about schools. Parent View will provide a comprehensive national platform for gathering this information. Parent View will also give parents and carers in England the opportunity to make their voice heard when it comes to the performance of their child’s school. What parents tell us through these questionnaires will be considered when making decisions about when a school should be inspected.
“Whilst parents’ views alone cannot trigger an inspection, they will provide a vital piece of the jigsaw. I hope everyone with an interest in education will welcome this innovation and that parents around the country will use Parent View to make their views count.”
System ‘open to abuse’
But Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said that communication between parents and teachers is most effectively achieved through direct communication in a “proper and logical way, instead of going online at the end of a busy day”.
“It’s not clear why parents, who may have quite legitimate questions to which they seek answers, would choose the route of a questionnaire to express their concerns, or otherwise, about a school,” she said.
“Apart from the obvious question as to what useful purpose the questionnaire will serve, this is a system which is open to abuse. Schools could easily be targeted by parents unfairly, or even in anger, which could result in a false impression being given of the school.”
She said that the system will add another layer of accountability against which schools will be measured: “ It really is time that the government insisted everyone listened to what they themselves say should happen and start trusting teachers, and not put their faith in subjective measurements such as this.”
Parents will be asked to give their view on the following 12 questions, from ‘strongly agree’ through to ‘strongly disagree':
- My child is happy at this school
- My child feels safe at this school
- My child makes good progress at this school
- My child is well looked after at this school
- My child is taught well at this school
- My child receives appropriate homework for their age
- This school ensures the pupils are well behaved
- This school deals effectively with bullying
- This school is well led and managed
- This school responds well to any concern I raise
- I receive valuable information from the school about my child’s progress
- I would recommend this school to another parent
What’s your view of Parent View? Is the system open to abuse, and an “unnecessary level of accountability”? Or will it be a really useful aid to flagging up potential issues, and helping parents make important choices about their child’s education?