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Parents stand by Ofsted failures

Parents remain loyal to their children's schools even when they are failing, a report from Ofsted reveals today.

It shows that four out of five primaries and more than half of secondaries failed by inspectors maintain the support of parents.

Overall, almost nine out of 10 primaries and 77 per cent of secondaries were judged to be good or better by parents. Special schools received overwhelming backing with more than half viewed as very good or better.

Inspectors said parents were supportive of primary schools which led them to be more tolerant of weak teaching and leadership, and suggested they may have a more intense focus on educational outcomes, rather than a child's social development, at secondary level.

More than a third of primaries judged unsatisfactory by inspectors were viewed by parents as good or excellent; just under half were considered satisfactory; and only 18 per cent poor, it said.

The report, Parents' satisfaction with schools, is based on evidence from almost 7,000 inspections conducted between September 2003 and July 2005.

In addition to its overall effectiveness, a school's ethos, the quality of teaching and its leadership and management were key factors shaping parental views.

Parents seem more alert to the lack of a positive ethos than to poor teaching. They agreed with inspectors' criticisms of ethos in 50 per cent of secondaries and 43 per cnet of primaries, a higher proportion than agreed about weak teaching.

Schools removed from special measures enjoyed a sharp reduction in parental dissatisfaction with no secondaries and only one in 50 primaries seen as poor.

The report also found schools have improved links with parents. In 20045, 84 per cent of schools were judged to have good or better links with parents compared with 61 per cent in 19978. Miriam Rosen, Ofsted's director of education, said: "I am delighted that this report shows that the efforts of headteachers, teachers and governors are being recognised by parents who, overall, are very satisfied with their children's schools.

"Parents recognise effective schools and appreciate the links that schools have established with them in recent years. Schools that are good at consulting parents, telling them about the progress of their children and listening to their concerns, have highly satisfied parents."

Margaret Morrissey of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations and a former lay inspector said: "Parents are looking for more from a school than an ability to meet government targets.

"Parents understand better than ministers that children develop at different rates and that missing targets does not necessarily mean the school or child is failing."

Parents' satisfaction with schools is available at www.ofsted.gov.uk

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