UK Parents to Have Whistleblower, Anonymous Complaint Outlet

In order to give parents a bigger say in their children’s education, as part of a new overhaul in school inspections to be introduced in January, mothers and fathers will be able to directly and anonymously report the their schools to Ofsted for failing to provide quality education to their kids, The Telegraph reports. A report by a parent will automatically trigger an additional inspection of the school.

The Coalition is hoping that the new oversight scheme will help expose under-performing school and bring them up to standard. The inspectors will be looking at teaching quality and the new rules will make it more difficult for a school to be rated outstanding.

It will also force schools to identify groups of children most at risk of falling behind, including lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils, gypsies and travellers, those from ethnic minority families and youngsters eligible for free meals.

Under the reforms, the parents will have an increased role to play. They will have access to an online survey that would allow them to report their concerns about their schools directly to Ofsted, while only providing an email address and not their name or where they live. If a sufficiently large number of surveys are received, an inspection will immediately be scheduled.

Teachers, however, are concerned that the new surveys, instead of providing useful feedback, will be used to settle scores an or sling dirt against unpopular teachers.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “It’s not beyond the wit of a group of students to get themselves together with a Facebook campaign and some fake email addresses and start an overwhelming surge of complaints.

Brian Lightman of the Association of School and College Leaders agrees that the system, as it is, is prone to abuse. At the very least, the surveys should be limited only to those who have children attending the school, or those who have some kind of relationship with the school itself. Lightman said that he does not want to see the feedback system with so much potential simply turn into a government-sponsored “RateMyTeacher.”

Although some argue with the method, most agree that giving parents a voice in their children’s education is a good thing. Across the Atlantic, in California, only a few weeks since the state Board of Education finalized the rules for the newly-passed Parent Trigger Laws, parents across the state are organizing to make a difference in their local schools. The Trigger Laws allow parents under certain circumstances to force a shutdown of their local schools, if they are under-performing, and in every area of California, groups like the Parent Revolution are distributing leaflets outlining the new rules, and encouraging Californians to take their new powers out for a spin.