How do we choose our children’s schools?
London’s leading recruitment agency for teaching professionals, REESON Education, says parents attach more importance to the quality of teaching their children receive, rather than checking league tables to see which school is performing better. They also say that many parents simply don’t have a choice about where to send their children to school, because of the shortage of options available locally.
This follows the recent publication of a nationwide survey into what parents consider when choosing schools for their children. The survey commissioned by the NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmaster Union of Women Teachers) found that fewer than a third (21%) of parents considered league tables before deciding.
Checking online for information (54%), reading the latest school report (49%), and speaking to parents of pupils who attended the school (53%) were all considered more relevant. For most parents (67%) location, and proximity to home, was another crucial factor. The survey results come just before the annual secondary school league tables for England are published.
Commenting on the survey’s findings, a spokesperson for REESON Education said it was not surprising that league tables were way down the list of priorities, and that having a choice of school remained a luxury for many parents.
“The vast majority of parents do not have the luxury of choosing a school and the only option is a place at the school closest to where the parents live. There is such a shortage of school places in some areas that parents don’t even get offered a school place within their catchment area.”
The spokesperson added: “It is little wonder few parents check league tables when realistically they have no choices to make. It is right for parents to expect their children to be educated by qualified teachers and it is important that the performance of all schools is measured by a variety of factors including, but not limited to, performance tables.”
Of the 1,019 parents who took part in the survey, 95% said it was very important that all schoolchildren were taught by professionally qualified teachers. In an interview with the BBC, NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates, said that Government ministers should pay attention to the survey findings because it showed that most parents didn’t agree with ministers about many of their education policies.
Ms Keates said the survey was a damning indictment of the coalition government’s decision to do away with the requirement that all schools had to employ fully qualified teachers. A government spokesperson, meanwhile, said that league tables enabled schools to be held to account and they meant parents could compare schools’ performance.
Other issues that parents ranked higher than performance tables in the survey include having supportive staff (54%), good record on dealing with bullying and bad behaviour (38%), and good facilities