Only 10 per cent of the 250,000 parents who took part in the online survey by Parentkind, a membership organisation for parent teacher associations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, responded that they would be happy for their children to return to school as soon as lockdown ends. An additional 10 per cent said they would like to wait until staff and pupils had been vaccinated, even if this takes up to 18 months.
A quarter of parents said that they would be happy with a September return date, but that they would like this confirmed now. A further 23 per cent and 18 per cent respectively said that they would only be happy once the Government or school leaders and teachers say it is safe to return.
Parents were asked to select their top three biggest parental concerns about the Covid-19 outbreak from 17 options. The top five concerns are:
- My child not seeing their friends or socialising (48 per cent of respondents)
- My child missing out on learning from teachers (38 per cent of respondents)
- One or more family members contracting Covid-19 (35 per cent of respondents)
- My child's mental health (35 per cent of respondents)
- My ability to juggle working and supporting my child's learning (31 per cent of respondents).
Parents report approaching home schooling in a range of ways. While 39 per cent are teaching a combination of work set by school and other skills set by school, four per cent are trusting their child to get on with the work and another four per cent are focusing on life skills rather than formal lessons.
Parents were also asked how worried they are now about the impact of the pandemic on their child’s education, compared to how they felt in March when school closures were announced. Results show that 40 per cent of parents have the same amount of worry about the impact, 31 per cent are less worried, but more than a quarter (26 per cent) say that they are more worried now.
Commenting on the results, John Jolly, CEO of Parentkind, said that it is clear from the number of parent’s responses that they want to be consulted about when their children should return to school.
‘Parents are desperately seeking clarity and reassurance about schools re-opening, what measures will be put in place to ensure their child's education doesn’t suffer long-term, and how the mental health implications for young people will be addressed,’ he said.
‘The weight of our research and the strength of parent voice is a call to action for UK governments to listen to parents when it comes to re-opening schools, phasing children back into classrooms, and minimising the disruption to home life and the education of children.’
Parentkind has endorsed the National Education Union’s (NEU) ‘Five Tests for Government’ that it is felt should be met before opening schools, launched on 1 May. They have jointly written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamsom to re-emphasise concerns.
- A petition by the NEU demanding that schools only re-open when it is safe to do so has now been signed by almost 350,000 people. A large proportion of the signatories are education professionals but more than 125,000 are parents who are concerned about their family’s safety once restrictions on school attendance are lifted.