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3 in 10 parents don’t use academic performance to choose a secondary

Ofsted reports are the source most likely to be checked by parents – and EBacc data is the least likely, DfE survey shows

The Ipsos MORI research asked parents and carers about sources of information when choosing secondary schools.

Ofsted reports are the source most likely to be checked by parents – and EBacc data is the least likely, DfE survey shows

Almost three in 10 parents do not use academic performance when choosing a secondary school, a new survey for the Department for Education shows.

The fifth wave of the Department for Education’s omnibus survey of pupils and their parents or carers found Ofsted reports were the most common source of information for parents.

According to the poll, carried out by Ipsos MORI, 48 per cent of parents and carers used the inspectorate's work.

However, 29 per cent said they “did not use academic performance when choosing a school”, and 10 per cent were unaware this information existed.

Data on English Baccalaureate results and entries were the least likely sources to be consulted, cited by 3 per cent and 1 per cent of respondents respectively.


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Ipsos MORI said parents and carers of pupils eligible for free school meals were less likely to use academic performance information when choosing a secondary school, with only 39 per cent saying they did so.

How do parents choose a school?

For parents of children with special educational needs, 49 per cent said they used such a source.

Parents of black, African, Caribbean and black British pupils were far more likely to use academic performance to guide their choice, with 81 per cent saying they did so, against 57 per cent for white pupils.

There was also a noticeable regional difference, with 71 per cent of London respondents using academic performance information but only 54 per cent in the Midlands.

Nearly all parents of pupils in Years 7-9 said they had received information from their child’s school about progress and attainment and 84 per cent felt that this had been clear and useful.

There was, though, little knowledge of destination measures showing where past pupils from the school went.

Only 10 per cent of respondents knew "a lot" about these and 44 per cent "a little", while the remainder had not heard of them.

The survey shows that changes to GCSE assessments were well known, but not the reasons for them.

Almost all parents (88 per cent) and pupils (97 per cent) were aware of the move to numerical grades.

But Ipsos-MORI said: “Few understood why the government introduced the new GCSEs and why the grading scale changed to numbers.” Only 30 per cent of parents understood the distinction between a "strong" or "standard" pass.

Understanding of what Progress 8 results are intended to convey about a school’s performance had worsened from 47 per cent in the previous survey to only 41 per cent.

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