PTA UK, the largest membership organisation for parent teacher associations in England and champion for parents in education, is today calling for the Government to put parents and pupils truly at the heart of its radical reforms of England’s education system.
PTA UK Executive Director Emma Williams said: "PTA UK welcomes the recognition in the Government's white paper 'Education Excellence Everywhere' that parents have not always been fully informed or at the heart of the education system. Requiring Academy Trusts to listen to and understand the views and needs of parents and communities is a great start, and setting up a new parent portal and clearer complaints and admissions arrangements are welcome, but these don’t go far enough. Crucially the white paper does not recognise or promote the proven, positive affect that parents have on improving school life and their child’s attainment."
She adds: "We are keen to work with the Department for Education to ensure that the new Academy structures work with parents in a meaningful way to enable true accountability and allow parents to support their child's education and enhance school life. What we don't want is to set parents and schools against each other so that the only accountability comes in at the point of conflict."
PTA UK has today set out its five key recommendations for the Government and others to make sure parents have a genuine voice in education at national, regional and local levels:
- We want to see all schools benefit from a forum for parents such as a PTA. We want parents to be properly represented on any local advisory, governing groups and multi-academy trust (MAT) governing boards too. PTA UK already supports a network of parent bodies across half of all schools in England and 79% of parents tell us they want to do more to support their child’s school with 85% wanting a say in how their child is educated.
- Work with national parenting organisations such as PTA UK on creating a parent portal that meets needs of and reaches all parents.
- Support investment in a trusted, independent means of gathering feedback from parents; addressing the historic low levels of parent engagement with Ofsted's Parent View.
- Set up a working party to clarify the local authority parent champion role and how parents and others can work positively with Regional Schools Commissioners.
- Ensure each school harnesses the benefit of positive parental engagement by preparing and executing an annual plan which includes support for learning, consultation and partnership projects, overseen by a Governing Board ‘champion’.
We know that the Government’s changes are understood by only a fraction of parents. PTA UK will continue to communicate what these changes mean for parents, flag opportunities for parents to have a say and provide tools for this to happen successfully. We will also be shortly asking our 14,000 member associations what more they want us to do on their behalf.
Notes for editors:
PTA UK’s summary of last week’s budget and White Paper Educational Excellent Everywhere announcement
Blog - The education white paper is our clarion call, don't let this opportunity go!
85 per cent of parents in England do want a say in education
Budget 2016 - education announcements