News support feature: How important are parents’ views to your school?
With more than 14,100 parents having completed our Parent View survey since its launch in late October 2011, some headteachers around the country are actively encouraging parents to go online and rate their school.
Parent View allows parents and carers to give their views about their child’s school at any time of the year. It features 12 questions that cover a range of issues important to parents and schools, including how the school deals with behaviour and bullying, the quality of teaching and leadership, the level of homework set and a final question on whether or not a parent would recommend the school. Once a small number of surveys are completed, the results for the school are visible in Parent View.
Ofsted analyses the information on a monthly basis alongside other data we collect, such as examination results, attendance records and complaint levels. The information contributes to our ‘risk assessment’, when making decisions about whether or when to inspect schools.
Currently, the vast majority of schools receive up to two working days’ notice of an inspection and we gather parent’s views through paper-based questionnaires. For some time we have been considering how we could move to no-notice inspections, but could not overcome the important issue of being able to get parents’ views as part of the process. With the introduction of Parent View, parents can now share their opinions of their child’s school at any time, making a move to no-notice inspections possible.
Many parents that are happy with their child’s school use Parent View to share their satisfaction or to show their support for the school. Others may want to flag up one or two areas where they have concerns. As the school results are saved at the end of the academic year, they can provide headteachers and governors with a useful year-on-year picture of parents’ views.
Alan Gray, Headteacher of Sandringham School, an 11–18 secondary school in St Albans, Hertfordshire, actively encourages parents to register and share their views on Ofsted’s Parent View website.
He said, ‘Parents’ views are important to us. I wanted to make sure that when inspectors – and indeed other parents – were looking at our school on the Parent View pages, they were not looking at a blank sheet. I’ve added a link to Parent View on the homepage of our school website. The fact that we have the highest number of parents that have completed the online questionnaire shows that we are doing something right in terms of parental engagement.’
Anna Reeder, Headteacher of St Luke’s Church of England Primary School, Cambridge, added an article in the school’s newsletter to encourage parents to log onto Parent View. She said, ‘I think Parent View is a good starting point for parents to give their views and for schools to take note of them. We will use it to ask for more detailed direct feedback, which can make all the difference to schools. Without parental feedback you run the risk of missing the first signs of potential problems and alienating the very people whose support and understanding you require.’
Ofsted has put in place a range of measures, including a registration process with password and email verification, to ensure that the security of the website is robust and will treat schools fairly, while being accessible for parents to use. Systems are also in place to flag any potential signs of misuse and take appropriate action. The survey is not designed to receive complaints about schools and parents and carers are not currently able to reply using free text, minimising the risks of malicious entries from parents with an axe to grind.
For further information about Parent View, visit: http://parentview.ofsted.gov.uk.
To share Parent View through school websites, schools can download logos and links from: http://parentview.ofsted.gov.uk/link-to-us.