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78% happy with secondaries

Despite media obsession with league tables, exam results are a low priority for parents

Parents are overwhelmingly positive about their children's secondary education and care relatively little about exam results when picking schools, according to one of the largest surveys of its kind.

The poll of 113,000 families in England, Wales and Scotland is to be unveiled today at the Association of School and College Lecturers'

conference in London. It found that 78 per cent rated their child's school good or very good, with only 4 per cent saying it was poor and just over 1 per cent very poor.

The figures paint a very different picture to reports this month, which suggested that many parents were unhappy with secondary education after missing out on their first choice of schools.

The poll, by school self-evaluation company Kirkland Rowell, found that exam results rated only 12th on parents' priority lists, far behind teaching quality, discipline and their child's happiness. More than eight out of 10 put these priorities in their top 10, while less than half cited good exam results.

Parents were relatively unhappy with homework policies: one in four believed their child was not set enough. The poll also found that girls did an average of 5.8 hours per week while boys did 4.4.

PE had the highest approval rating, while citizenship was ranked bottom.

They were least happy with school meals, but gave best scores for settling pupils in.

They were split on specialist status: two-fifths said it was of little importance while one-fifth said it was very important.

John Dunford, ASCL general secretary, said the findings contrast with many non-parents' negative views "Every survey of parents' views produces a high level of satisfaction with the work of secondary schools," he said. "These results are very encouraging."

PARENTS' TOP FIVE PRIORITIES FOR SCHOOLS:

1 Teaching quality

2 Discipline

3 Child's happiness

4 Control of bullying

5 Caring teachers

THREE SUBJECTS THEY RATE THE HIGHEST:

PE:73%

History: 72%

English: 72%

THREE SUBJECTS THEY RATE THE LOWEST:

ICT: 67%

RE:65%

Citizenship: 63%

THREE OTHER ASPECTS OF SCHOOL WORK THEY RATE HIGHLY:

Making sure new pupils settle: 74%

Computer access: 73%

Truancy control: 73%

ASPECTS THEY RATE POORLY:

Careers advice: 59%

Pupil community work: 58%

School meals: 56%

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