British parents are happier about the quality of teaching at their child’s school than their counterparts in most other countries that took part in a major survey.
Yet, given the choice, many UK parents would move their child to a fee-paying school, even if they are happy with their state school.
Today's Varkey Foundation report has been billed as “the most comprehensive global study ever of the hopes, fears and views of parents across 29 countries”, and is based on an Ipsos Mori poll of more than 27,000 people.
British parents are among the most positive about the quality of teaching at their child’s school (joint-third out of 29, behind only Kenya and USA).
The 87 per cent who rated it “fairly good” or “very good” was on a par with Estonia, India and Finland, but higher than other large European Union economies such as Germany (57 per cent), France (78 per cent), Italy (78 per cent) and Spain (79 per cent).
British parents rated free-to-attend schools highly: 68 per cent said they were fairly good or very good, the sixth-highest figure and far higher than the average (44 per cent) although a long way behind Finland (90 per cent).
However, nearly half of British parents whose child attends a free-to-attend school (49 per cent) would be fairly or very likely to send their child to a fee-paying school if they could afford it and if there were a suitable place.
That is below the average of 55 per cent, but in line with Germany (48 per cent), and higher than other major EU economies.
Parents were also asked to look ahead to 2030 and think about how well schools were preparing children for a fast-changing future. Here, again the UK rated highly: 67 per cent of parents said their child’s school was preparing them well for the world of 2030 and beyond, higher than Germany, Italy and Spain and the average across 29 countries (64 per cent).
More UK parents thought education had got worse than better in the past 10 years (33 per cent against 28 per cent) but this was far less than in countries such as France, where 70 per cent thought education had got worse, and Germany, where 52 per cent said this was the case.
The study, based on parents of children aged 4-18, also finds that there is not always a relationship between parents' confidence in teaching quality and Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) rankings.
South Korea (43 per cent) and Japan (61 per cent) have among the lowest levels of confidence in quality of teaching at their child’s school, despite being ranked 11th and second respectively out of 70 Pisa countries. US parents have the second-highest levels of confidence (91 per cent), despite their country being 25th in Pisa.
Vikas Pota, chief executive of the Varkey Foundation, said: “Despite the pressure on school budgets, it is heartening to see that British parents are among the most confident in the world about the quality of teaching in their child's school, even if they are slightly less confident in the education system in the UK as a whole.”
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said: “We have been clear about the high quality of education the state sector provides and, as this survey shows, when asked about the quality of education their children receive in state schools, parents are overwhelmingly positive.
"Any comparisons with the private sector should be made on the basis of evidence and not on the basis of misconceptions about the state sector as a whole.”
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “Academic standards are rising in our schools and, thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers, 1.9 million more pupils are now in schools rated good or outstanding than in 2010 and nine out of 10 schools were given this rating at their latest inspection.”
She added: “We are pleased to see that parents feel confident in the quality of teaching in our schools and we are continuing to invest in bringing more excellent teachers into the profession. We are also investing over £41 billion in school funding and have spent £5.8 billin to create 735,000 more good places across the country since 2010.”
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