Non-white parents more supportive of free schools

Rupanjana Dutta Monday 22nd September 2014 15:10 EDT

A study revealed that one in four parents in England would have chosen a different school if they had had a chance. Out of 1.4mn families, this dissatisfaction was even starker among black and other ethnic minority parents, including Asians, with over one in three (36%) saying that they would have chosen a different school for their child if they had the chance.

The report further said that 38% of Black Minority Ethnic parents rated local schools as average or worse compared to 34% of white parents. However, when free schools were described to respondents, 81% of those parents expressing a view said they thought such a school would be welcome in the local area, with 73% saying they would consider such a school for their child. BME parents were even more supportive of free schools with 91% who expressed an opinion saying they thought a free school would be welcome in their area. The survey also revealed that 83% of BME parents would consider sending their child to a free school compared to 58% of white parents.

This survey of parents was published by New Schools Network, testing views on how they regard their local school, exploring what parents’ value in a good school and how their own school measures up. Carried out by opinion research company Populus, the survey shows that there is significant dissatisfaction among parents nationally.

It asked parents to rate the importance they attached to various elements of a good school, and then to compare how they felt their own school performed on those same measures:

* 95% of parents say that the quality of lessons is important or very important, but only 74% rate their school as good or very good

* 93% of parents say that helping their child succeed in exams is important, but only 65% rate their schools as good or very good

* 92% of parents say that the school’s role in helping their child secure a place at university and/or a good job is important, but 58% rate their school as good or very good.

Parents who are aware of a free school in their area - and have more knowledge about free schools – are considerably more likely to think a free school would be welcome in their area and consider sending their child to such a school.

Natalie Evans, Director of the New Schools Network, commented: “Free schools can only be created where they are wanted by parents and our opinion poll reflects what is happening on the ground. Free schools have emerged most strongly in neighbourhoods with higher proportions of black and other ethnic minority groups and have proved extremely popular with non-white families. At a primary level, researchers found that white children made up only a third of the free school population, which is less than half the national average in England.”

“We know that there is an acute shortage of places in many parts of the country, but this survey confirms that there is also a considerable shortage of good school places. With 1.4 million families not able to send their child to their school of first choice, we cannot afford to ignore the case for new schools – both in areas where there is a shortfall of places and in areas where what is currently on offer is falling short.

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