Memorandum submitted by Comprehensive Future (CS 32)

 

Parental satisfaction surveys

 

1. Comprehensive Future is the campaign for fair school admission policies in England. The campaign is non party political and open to all. By lobbying Government, providing evidence, informing the media and supporting local campaigns on admissions we aim to bring about a comprehensive secondary school system in England with fair admissions criteria to all publicly funded schools, guaranteeing an equal chance to all children and an end to selection by ability and aptitude. Our supporters include school staff and governors, parents, members of both Houses of Parliament, local councillors, academics and other public figures who share a commitment to equality of opportunity within our education system.

 

2. Parental satisfaction surveys introduced by this Bill will survey the views of parents in the area about the provision of relevant schools. Regulations will set out the detail including 'the manner and form' in which parents' views are to be sought and to 'make provision for supplementary information' to be requested. Following analysis of the survey a plan is to be produced which has to be consulted upon and if the reaction of parents is unfavourable this may be referred to the adjudicator.

 

3. A pilot was carried out by the DCSF and at the time of writing the results are not available. We urge the Committee to ensure the results are made available as soon as possible.

 

4. Details of the percentage returns required for the LA to take action in the survey and in any subsequent consultation should be made clear to the Committee.

 

5. As the impact assessment makes clear this survey is intended to be done at the same time as Yr 6 parents are going through the process of expressing a preference for, in the first instance, secondary schools.

 

6. We believe that this intended timing will reduce the value of the surveys. We have two particular concerns.

 

When parents express a preference for a school, unless they already have children in secondary education, they do not have direct experience of secondary education as their children are not yet at secondary school.

 

Furthermore, despite any assurances to the contrary which might be made, parents are likely to be concerned that what they say in the questionnaire will influence whether or not their preference is to be met.

 

7. We believe that far more useful results would be obtained by surveying the views of parents of children in year 7 once the whole process has been completed. Parents could then be asked for their views on provision of schools and as regulations will allow supplementary information, views can be sought about the whole process of admissions including appeals. This would give a more rounded picture of the situation facing parents and would provide far clearer evidence of what action, if any, is required.

 

January 2010