In May 2019, Teacher Tapp published a blog called ‘the parent paradox: are teachers working in harmony with, or in conflict against, parents?’. The blog explores teachers seemingly contradictory views on the role of parents in education and uses the issue to highlight that in research, how you ask the question can be just as revealing as the answers themselves.
For example, the blog describes how most teachers agree that local families and the wider community are supportive of their school, but that they also feel that parents are too disrespectful of teachers.
The blog includes analysis by school phase and by job role, but it does not look specifically at the data from special schools or from SENCOs. It also only included the parent view by proxy – teachers were asked what they think parents think.
I am therefore delighted to be able to update the blog for Whole School SEND and to look at these groups specifically with the hypothesis that special schools and SENCOs have a rather different perspective on the parent paradox… potentially one that all teachers can learn from.
Teachers in special schools and alternative provision strongly agree that local families and the wider community are supportive of their school.
Whilst all teachers think that parents are supportive of their school, those that work in special schools are more likely to strongly agree, and none strongly disagree.
Conversely, teachers in special schools or alternative provision are more likely than their mainstream peers to disagree that parents have become far too disrespectful.
But hold on, this isn’t all on parents! What about what teachers do? Do teachers make themselves easy to approach?
Whilst most teachers report that they make it easy for parents to contact them, SENCOs report that they try really hard at this!
Finally, what do teachers think that parents want to change about their school? Well teachers in special schools or alternative provision are less likely to think that anything needs to change…
…and it turns out parents agree with them! When we used our new parent survey app Parent Ping to replicate this question, we found that contrary to many teachers’ beliefs, on the whole parents are broadly happy with most aspects of their school and many would change nothing at all!
So, what have we learnt?
This data suggests that SENCOs and teachers in special schools or other alternative provision settings do have different relationships with parents than some of their mainstream colleagues. But one of the most important voices in this area – parents themselves – are often silent. Yet when we ask them what they think, we are often pleasantly surprised and can learn a lot!
Before you go…
The Parent Ping dataset is currently small and not nationally representative – help us change this by sharing Parent Ping with the parents that you know, and if you are a parent download it yourself!
The Teacher Tapp dataset is nationally representative, but there are not as many teachers in special schools or SENCOs using it as we would like – help us change this by downloading Teacher Tapp and joining in!
The nerdy data bit
• ‘How much do you agree with the following statement? Families and the wider community are supportive of teachers and students in this school’ 3,270 respondents (weighted maximum margin of error 11%) between 25/03/18 and 01/03/19
• ‘In my experience, parents have become far too disrespectful of teachers’ 3,546 respondents (weighted maximum margin of error 8%) on 01/05/2019
• ‘I make it easy for parents to contact me’ 2,295 respondents (weighted maximum margin of error 12%) on 24/05/2018
• ‘If our school's parents were allowed to take control of key decisions, I think they would likely change the following school policies and practices’ 4,228 respondents (weighted maximum margin of error 5%) between 14/06/2018 and 04/05/2019
• ‘If you were allowed to take control of key decisions, which would you change at your child's school?’ 425 respondents (unweighted) on 05/08/2020