Of 1,000 parents in the UK polled by the parent teacher umbrella group PTA UK, only 33% said they understood changes to education by the government, according to the BBC. The PTA UK now wants the regional schools commissioners to consult with parents, but the government replied that it already did so on a regular basis.
The survey found that only 18% of parents think the government listens to them about their children’s education.
The PTA UK plans to submit the survey forms as evidence to a Parliamentary inquiry into regional schools commissioners by the Education Select Committee, which will be holding session later in the fall. Eight regional school commissioners were appointed in 2014 in England and were challenged to approve academies and to assist when academies and free schools are under-performing.
The commissioners, at the behest of the government, may expand their roles to include deciding whether under-performing or “coasting schools should become sponsored academies.” But PTA UK says many parents do not understand the role of the commissioners and how it impacts their children. The association believes that if commissioners are in the business of raising standards in under-performing schools there should be effective dialogue with parents.
In the past, PTAs were associated with fundraising events in schools, but PTA UK wants to be a part of decision-making processes and says it represents the views of parents.
“The two primary influences on children’s education is that of the school and their parents, However, the parent voice has, up until this point, been largely absent from the national education debate,” said PTA UK Executive Director, Emma Williams. “It is crucial that parents, schools and parliamentary bodies work in unison in order to provide the best possible education experience for children across the country.”
She added that parents are the “primary stockholders” in their children’s education and, as such, should be consulted to help hold schools accountable. In a different survey of more than 1,300 PTA members, 97% stated that they felt they should be consulted about important changes to their child’s school and 96% said being consulted made them feel they were an integral part of their child’s education. A Department of Education spokesperson said:
“We regularly engage with parents, through social media, surveys, newsletters or meetings with our regional schools commissioners (RSCs) who will also seek the views of their communities through their head teacher boards, which are made up of outstanding local school leaders.”
The representative added that schools should have a procedure in place for listening to parents’ concerns. The department also has a system to handle school complaints, which it says are always taken very seriously.
The PTA UK says in its vision statement that it wants “every school to have the benefit of a successful and supportive PTA to enhance the education and futures of all our children.” The organization was established in 1956 and is now the UK’s leading PTA membership organization. In the last year, the PTA UK has helped up to 14,000 member organizations in the UK raise over £120 million for their schools.