Parents · School

Parents need more engagement in education – report

Source: Holyrood

Written by Tom Freeman

Review of parental involvement legislation praises work to engage parents in the children’s education but the SPTC warns a ‘significant re-think’ needed

Parent's night

Parent’s night – Flickr creative commons

Moves to engage parents in their children’s education have been largely successful but need to go further, a post-legislative review by the National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) has concluded.

A new report into the impact of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006 contains a number of recommendations for government.

These include more opportunities for parents and staff to work together, more flexibility at work for parents to attend school events and an extension of the requirements to cover the early years.

“Parental involvement in a child’s learning has positive outcomes for the child, their family and their school, and helps to raise attainment,” the report said.

NPFS chair Joanna Murphy said: “The National Parent Forum of Scotland hopes that this review will allow all of us to move forward together, and continue to keep parents at the heart of their child’s learning.

“I will continue to strive for a political and legislative environment which champions the voice of parents.”

Education Secretary John Swinney welcomed the report and said its findings would feed into his review of school governance, which will report next month.

“We want to see a focus on how our education system is supporting parents to help their child’s learning at home, from the early years and throughout school; to overcome the obstacles they face and understand the powerful difference they can make,” he said.

Neil Mathers, Save the Children’s head of Scotland, said the report “allowed us to celebrate the really positive efforts schools and nurseries have taken over the last ten years to help parents to support their children’s learning​.”

However, membership organisation the Scottish Parent Teacher Council said the ambitions of the original act were “not yet delivered comprehensively”.

Director Jeanna Brady said: “While family engagement is probably one of the most significant levers available to teachers to impact on achievement and attainment of young people, our school system can only leverage this impact by adopting an approach which is all about working with families and builds engagement into school improvement.

“That requires a significant re-think across the system from teacher education and leadership development, parental engagement strategies and partnerships within and beyond school boundaries.

She added: “While parents generally do not want to run schools, they do want their voices heard and, most importantly, to be recognised as partners in their children’s education.”

A rumoured new regional approach to education governance could provide new structures for schools to share resources and build communities, she suggested.


Parents’ mobile use harms family life, say secondary pupils

Source: BBC

An overuse of mobile phones by parents disrupts family life, according to a survey of secondary pupils.

More than a third of 2,000 11 to 18-year-olds who responded to a poll said they had asked their parents to stop checking their devices.

And 14% said their parents were online at meal times, although 95% of 3,000 parents, polled separately, denied it.

The research was carried out by Digital Awareness UK and the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference.

Among the pupils:

  • 82% felt meal times should be device-free
  • 22% said the use of mobiles stopped their families enjoying each other’s company
  • 36% had asked their parents to put down their phones

Of pupils who had asked their parents to put down their phones, 46% said their parents took no notice while 44% felt upset and ignored.

Despite this, only a minority of parents (10%) believed their mobile use was a concern for their children – although almost half (43%) felt they spent too much of their own time online:

  • 37% said they were online between three and five hours a day at weekends
  • 5% said it could be up to 15 hours a day over a weekend

Research last year by DAUK and HMC showed almost half of secondary pupils were checking their mobile phones after they had gone to bed, amid warnings that they were arriving at school tired and unable to concentrate.

According to the new research, almost three-quarters of pupils (72%) said they were online between three and 10 hours a day – but for 11% this could rise to 15 hours at weekends and holidays and 3% said it could reach 20 hours.

And children’s greatest worry about their own online use was lack of sleep, with 47% highlighting it as a major concern.

But among parents, only 10% worried about children’s time online leading to sleep deprivation.

Boy using devices at nightImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK
Image captionPupils worry about sleep deprivation through going online at night

Mike Buchanan, headmaster of Ashford School in Kent and chairman of the HMC, which represents leading private schools, said it was time for parents, teachers and pupils “to rewrite the rulebook” on mobile devices, which “have become an integral part of life at school, work and play”.

“Our poll shows that children are aware of many of the risks associated with overuse of technology but they need the adults in their lives to set clear boundaries and role model sensible behaviour.

“To achieve this, we need to join up the dots between school and home and give consistent advice,” said Mr Buchanan.

‘Wake-up call’

Emma Robertson, co-founder of DAUK, said too few parents knew how long their children were online, particularly at night, “or what they are actually doing online”.

“We hope these findings will be a wake-up call for families and motivate them to have serious conversations about the safe and healthy use of technology,” she said.

The research comes ahead of the HMC’s spring conference, which will explore new ways of working between schools and families in both the state and independent sectors.

Parents and pupils at a leading academy chain, which runs both state and private schools in England, were invited to take part in the research earlier this month.

Parent signup:

Parents · School

London house prices near top schools:huge demand near the capital’s ‘outstanding’ primary schools pushes average prices up by £80k

Source: ES

London house prices near top schools:huge demand near the capital’s ‘outstanding’ primary schools pushes average prices up by £80k

As demand for homes near London’s top-rated primary schools pushes prices up by £80k, we reveal the capital’s most affordable catchments near “outstanding” schools.

Revealed: London’s most affordable catchment areas near top schools

London parents desperate to be in the right catchment areas for top-rated primary schools have driven local property prices up by more than £80,000 above other districts with less successful state schools, says a report published today.

With a quarter of parents selecting a home specifically for the quality of the local school, there is now a 13 per cent price premium on living close to a primary rated “outstanding” by the Ofsted education watchdog.

According to today’s research from Rightmove and FindASchool, the average price in the catchment area of an “outstanding” primary is a record £678,595.

The average price of a home in the catchment area of a primary rated “good” by Ofsted is £659,397, while homes close to schools which “require improvement” average £598,054.

The most expensive “outstanding” school to live close to is Bousfield Primary School, in Kensington, where homes have an average asking price of more than £2.25 million.

Homes within the catchment of Soho Parish CofE Primary Schoolhave an average asking price of almost £2.2 million, while those near St Barnabas and St Philip’s CofE Primary School, again in Kensington, cost just over £2 million.

Most expensive areas near outstanding schools:

School Borough Ofsted rating Average asking price
Bousfield Primary School Kensington & Chelsea 1 £2,254,706
Soho Parish CofE Primary School Westminster 1 £2,158,301
St Barnabas and St Philip’s CofE Primary School Kensington & Chelsea 1 £2,006,270
Ark King Solomon Academy Westminster 1 £1,656,807
Hadley Wood Primary School Enfield 1 £1,621,068


There are considerably more affordable alternatives for parents to consider that are also in the catchment of top-performing schools. The most affordable location in London is in the hinterland of Castilion Primary SchoolThamesmead, where the average asking price of homes is £247,284.

Homes close to nearby Hawksmoor School, which also has an “outstanding” Ofsted report, have an average asking price of £248,786.

Just across the Thames, in BarkingThames View Infantsis another affordable “outstanding” option, with average local prices of £273,459.

Buyers willing to live right on the fringes of London could consider Broadford Primary School, close to the new Crossrail station at Harold Wood in north-east London, where the average asking price is £294,558.Heading west, homes in the catchment of Feltham Hill Infant and Nursery School, in Middlesex, have an asking price of £314,774.

“An Ofsted ‘outstanding’ school will often have a remarkably small catchment area as parents clamour to buy what they perceive to be a stake in their child’s future,” says Jeremy Leaf, principal of Jeremy Leaf & Co estate agents. “The effect of families buying around desirable schools produces ever-narrowing catchment areas.”

Many parents, adds Leaf, take an early approach to moving to an area with a good local school — sometimes even before their children are born.

Other mums and dads simply try to cheat the system by renting a property in the catchment area, while keeping the family home elsewhere. But schools are becoming increasingly wise to this trick.

The high cost of homes close to top primaries means some families will compromise on the property to be near their school of choice. “Park Hill Junior School in Croydon is so popular that we are now selling two- to three-bedroom maisonettes to families willing to sacrifice a garden to buy within the catchment,” says Ian Vernon, senior associate at Bairstow Eves. Though the premium to live by an “outstanding” primary school is steep, it pales into insignificance compared with rising private school fees in London. Currently at £15,828 a year, a private primary education for two children could end up costing their parents almost £200,000.

Mark Rimell, a partner in Strutt & Parker’s national country house department, says top schools also create commuter belt price hotspots. Across the South-East, homes close to “outstanding” schools are £71,979 more expensive than those near schools that “require improvement”, partly due to an outflow of Londoners looking for excellent educational standards.

“I moved from Clapham to Hertfordshire for this very reason,” says Rimell. “I wanted better schools with larger grounds that would give my kids a better education and a higher quality of life.”

Parents · School

Best schools add £18,600 to average house prices

Source: BBC

Best schools add £18,600 to average house prices

Dad and little girl walkingImage copyrightSOLSTOCK
Image captionTop primary schools in London can add up to £38,800 to the value of nearby homes, research suggests

Being near a good primary school adds £18,600 to the average house price in England, government research has found.

A study by the Department for Education (DfE) has found prices are 8% higher near the best-performing primary schools and 6.8% higher near the best secondary schools.

It said “selection by house price” was restricting access to the best schools.

Property experts said schools affected prices in the same way as high-speed broadband and transport links.

The DfE said one of the top 10% of primary schools in London would put £38,800 on to the value of a nearby home. The average price in the capital was £484,700 in July 2016.

Across England, the average house price of £232,900 would go up £18,600 near one of the best primary schools and £15,800 near one of the best secondary schools.

It is the first time the government has published research of its own on the issue of selection by house price, with banks and estate agents having previously conducted their own studies.

Recent analysis by Teach First found 43% of pupils at England’s outstanding secondary schools were from the wealthiest 20% of families, while a separate study by the Sutton Trust suggested poorer children were much less likely to get places at the schools with the best GCSE results.

The DfE study looked at non-selective state schools with the highest proportions of pupils getting level four or five at Key Stage 2 and at least five A* to C grades in GCSEs, including English and maths.

It found:

  • There is a “clear link” between the price paid for a home and access to good schools
  • House prices near the 10% best-performing primary schools are 8% higher than in the surrounding area
  • Near the 10% best-performing non-selective secondary schools, house prices are 6.8% higher
Man walking children to schoolImage copyrightKIKOVIC

However, the DfE said the difference in house prices “cannot be attributed to school quality alone”.

School standards minister Nick Gibb said: “With almost 1.8 million more children in good or outstanding schools than in 2010, more families are able to secure a good school place for their child than ever before. However for too many young people their chances of success still depend on how much money their parents earn and where they can afford to live.

“This new analysis sheds a light on how far selection by house price is restricting ordinary parents’ access to the best schools.

“We want to end this unfairness and our proposals will create more good school places in every part of the country, so every child can have the excellent education they deserve.”

The government is planning to create more grammar schools, but the proposals have come under fire from a cross-party campaign.

‘Prepared to pay more’

Buying agent and market commentator Henry Pryor said: “At long last, the government is confirming what many people have known for years, that being near a good school adds to the price of a home.

“It is all about location, location, location. Good schools put up the price in the same way as high-speed broadband or being near a rail station.

“We will see the same effect at the other end of life, with people prepared to pay more to be near to good hospitals and social care as they get older and rely more on the health service.

“In some cases people will choose to send their children to private school as the fees for doing so are less than the extra they would pay to be near a good state school.”

Previous research by Lloyds Bank suggested average house prices in some areas could be 17% higher than average.

Andrew Mason, Lloyds Bank mortgage products director, said: “The popularity of areas close to high performing schools may mean that homes remain unaffordable for buyers on average earnings.”

Parents · School

How premium house prices by top schools leave poorer pupils the losers

Source: Mirror

Poorer children are missing out on places at England’s top performing schools because their parents can’t afford a £45,700 house premium.

Research has found that living in the catchment area of one of the 500 top comprehensives – based on GCSE results – costs around 20% more than the average house in the same local authority.

And the top 500 schools are more ‘socially selective’ taking just over half the proportion of disadvantaged pupils taken by the average state school – 9% compared to 17%.

A study by the Sutton Trust education charity found that these schools admit around 9.4% of pupils eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) – a key measure of poverty, compared to 17.2% attending the average state school.

More than eight in 10 (85%) of the top 500 schools take fewer poorer pupils than they should do, given the numbers living in their catchment area.

Exam cheating
Could you forget about cheating in an exam? (Image: Getty)

Faith schools were the most socially selective group of top schools, the study concludes, making up 33.4% of the top 500, based on A*-C grades, including English and maths.

The findings come on the day that children across the country are told which secondary school they have been allocated for this autumn and show that the top schools are taking more poorer pupils, up from 7.6% in 2013.

Sir Peter Lampl,Sutton Trust chairman, said: “Getting a place at a high attaining school is key to getting on in life. Yet the bottom line is your chances of doing that depends on your parents’ income and whether they can afford the extra £45,700 house premium to live in the catchment area.

“This is why we want to see more use of ballots – where a proportion of places is allocated randomly. Ballots would ensure that a wider mix of pupils would get into the best schools.”

An analysis of government figures shows a fall in the proportion of families winning a place at their favoured secondary school.

Liverpool, in the North West, saw the biggest drop in first choices, down seven percentage points on 2015, while Hammersmith and Fulham, west London, had the biggest drop in overall preferences year on year, down 4.2 points.

Poorer children are missing out on places at top schools (PA)

Meanwhile, poorer children are facing greater difficulties to break the “class ceiling” because of their background, a report by the social mobility chairty Teach First has found.

The poorest areas of England are half as likely to have an outstanding secondary and five times more likely to have a school that is rated as less than good, the report’s analysis of official data shows.

While nearly all secondary schools (93%) in the richest areas of the country are judged by Ofsted to be “good” or “outstanding”, only about two-thirds (67%) are at this level in the poorest areas.

About one in 14 (7%) secondary schools in the richest areas are considered to “require improvement” or are “inadequate”, compared with more than a third (36%) of those in the poorest places.

“These barriers are preventing us from achieving a country that works for everyone; where opportunities are available for all, not an impossible dream for many.Even those who manage to break down barriers early on in their life are still likely to struggle later on.”