Parents pleased with schools

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The Independent Online
PARENTS are happy with standards in their children's schools and most feel welcome, according to one of the biggest research studies into parental opinion.

The findings of the national survey of randomly-selected parents of 3,200 secondary school pupils, published yesterday by researchers at the University of Keele, challenge the belief that there is widespread dissatisfaction with schools, which government ministers have used to justify education changes. It appears to contradict opinion polls showing that parents think standards are falling.

The survey also looked at the motivation of 7,000 pupils and found many are bored at school and that about half believe pupils make fun of children who work hard. Nearly 87 per cent of parents who answered questionnaires said they would recommend the school their child attended. Eighty-three per cent thought their child's school was either good or of a very high standard, and only 16 per cent are worried about their school's exam results.

Professor Michael Barber, Keele's professor of education, who did the survey, said: 'Parents on the whole are very positive about schools. When you talk to them about schools in general you get a very different picture from when you talk to them about their own child's school.'

Schools had worked hard over the past decade to respond to criticisms that they tried to keep parents at a distance. The survey showed more than 97 per cent of parents felt welcome in school and 91 per cent felt teachers were approachable. The figure for head teachers was 68 per cent.

Just over half of the parents felt they were always treated like partners in their children's education and a further 38 per cent felt they sometimes were. Professor Barber said some parents still hesitated to complain for fear of reprisals against their child.

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