Less than three-quarters of the population in Scotland is "very" or "fairly "satisfied with schools – down from a high of 85 per cent in 2011, a Scottish government survey reveals.
However, the fall to 71 per cent is not explained by a sharp increase in the proportion of people who are dissatisfied with their local schools. Rather, it is largely down to a rise in the number of adults who are ambivalent about the service that schools offer.
When the adults who were actually using schools – parents of schoolchildren for the most part, in other words – were asked if they were happy with the service, 86 per cent said they were very or fairly satisfied, down from a high of 92 per cent in 2012.
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The findings come in the Scottish Household Survey, published today. The survey started in 1999 and is designed to provide reliable and up-to-date information on the composition, characteristics, attitudes and behaviour of Scottish households and individuals.
Parents 'happy with Scotland's schools'
The report states: “The reason local schools satisfaction has fallen is almost entirely due to a corresponding increase from 11 per cent to 22 per cent in the number of people who are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.
“The number of people who are very or fairly dissatisfied with local schools has remained fairly stable until 2011, increasing slightly from 4 per cent in 2011 to 7 per cent in 2018.”
Rural areas had slightly higher satisfaction with local schools (75 per cent in accessible rural areas compared with 70 per cent in large urban areas), and the least deprived areas had higher satisfaction than the most deprived (69 per cent in deprived areas as compared with 74 per cent in the least deprived areas).
The survey also looked at satisfaction with nursery education and childcare, and found that 86 per cent of respondents were either very satisfied or fairly satisfied with the overall quality of funded childcare; 6 per cent of families said they were not satisfied.
The majority of households (61 per cent) did not report any problems with the funded childcare they were receiving. However, some families reported issues, with the most common being that there were not enough funded hours to meet their needs (20 per cent); the lack of provision during school holidays (19 per cent); and the lack of flexibility in the times or days offered (13 per cent).
Education secretary John Swinney said it was interesting to note that those using local authority services like education “report to be more satisfied than non-users”. He also said it was “great to see” that parents were satisfied with early learning and childcare.
He added: “The Scottish Household Survey is a unique opportunity for people to share their views and experiences and help the government understand how people feel about life in Scotland.
“This survey shows that parents are ready to benefit from the Scottish government’s £2 billion investment in the expansion of early learning and childcare, with the increase in flexibility and choice that this will bring, including options like year-round provision.
"We know the transformative impact that a high-quality, nurturing, early learning and childcare experience can have, and from August 2020 children will be able to access almost twice as many funded hours.”