Exclusive: Parents rate pupil confidence above subject knowledge

In response to a survey of parents, charity calls for schools to be judged more on so-called 'soft skills'
28th November 2018, 12:03am

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Exclusive: Parents rate pupil confidence above subject knowledge

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Instilling children with self-confidence is the most important thing that schools can do, say parents in a new survey released today -- rating it above subject knowledge and problem-solving.

The survey was carried out for Parentkind. The parents' charity, formerly PTA UK, says that, given their importance to parents, more "soft" skills should be used to measure schools' performance.

The key attributes that parents think children should leave primary school with:

Parentkind chart showing what parents want from primaries
The findings are based on a survey of a representative sample 1,500 parents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

"Government, school inspectorates and schools themselves should incorporate 'softer' measures in school performance indicators and self-assessments. Whilst this does not mean that harder measures aren't valued, parents would have a broader view of school performance which focuses also on the quality of children's experience and education," the report recommends.

Assessing 'soft skills'

But Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that he was wary of the idea of assessing soft skills.

"I think school leaders and college leaders feel they have accountability coming out of their ears," he said. "To add another layer with soft skills would be a complete distraction. It also takes us into the territory of how you measure some of those things. This seems to me an unhelpful suggestion."

The key attributes that parents think children should leave secondary school with:

Parentkind chart showing what parents want from secondaries


The survey also asked parents to list the key traits of a successful school. Children being happy finished top, cited by 55 per cent, followed by children enjoying learning (44 per cent).

By contrast, the majority of pupils achieving the government's expected attainment levels was seen as the mark of a successful school by just 26 per cent of parents - and an Ofsted "good" or "outstanding" rating by just 24 per cent.

What makes a successful school?

Parentkind chart showing what makes a successful school

The survey also revealed that 77 per cent of parents want more of say in their child's education at school level.

As well as recommending that "soft" measures are assessed, the charity is recommending that a consultative parent body should be mandatory in schools, and parents should be consulted on a broader range of topics.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "Schools are already assessed by Ofsted on the spiritual, moral, social, cultural and personal development of their pupils, as well as through the range of performance measures used by the department to assess how well each school is doing. Ofsted also takes the views of parents into account when inspecting a school.

"A strong accountability system is important for parents as it gives them information when picking the school that's right for their children and gives schools essential information to help raise standards for their pupils."

Ofsted has been approached for comment.

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