Fewer than one in five teachers think ‘Parent Pledge’ will make a difference

Heads say the policy seems to be a ‘gimmick’ rather than ‘meaningful policy’.

29 March 2022

Less than a fifth of teachers think that the new “Parent Pledge”, introduced in the Schools White Paper on Monday, will make a difference to standards.

The White Paper included a “Parent Pledge” for pupils falling behind in maths and English, with tutoring made available for any children struggling with literacy or numeracy.

It said that parents would be kept informed of their child’s progress through the scheme, while schools should monitor pupils’ learning through “robust” testing.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said on Monday: “The parent pledge is that any child that falls behind in English or maths will receive timely support to enable them to reach their potential.”

But in a survey of nearly 6,500 teachers by the Teacher Tapp app, just 1% said they thought the policy of requiring schools to tell parents that their child was falling behind in literacy or numeracy, as well as to provide targeted support, would be “very effective”, while 16% said it would be “fairly effective”.

The majority – 70% – said it would be fairly or very “ineffective”, while 12% said they were unsure.

However, a majority – 64% – said they supported the policy, while only 6% said they strongly opposed it.

The findings also revealed that many schools already carry out the promises made in the pledge.

In total, 68% of respondents said they informed parents if their child had lower attainment in English and maths, although this was much higher for primary than secondary teachers – 87% versus 49% respectively.

And 78% of all respondents said their school provided specific interventions for pupils falling behind in maths and English, while 61% informed parents about the specific interventions their child had received for these subjects.

Just 4% reported that their school did not inform parents of pupils’ low attainment in English and maths and ran no interventions for pupils falling behind.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “It is hardly a ringing endorsement of the Parent Pledge initiative that the majority of teachers think it will be fairly or very ineffective.”

“The Parent Pledge seems to us to be more of a gimmick designed to grab headlines rather than a meaningful policy,” he said.

“Schools already track the progress of their students, put in place strategies to help support them if they fall behind, and report this to parents through existing channels such as parents’ evenings.

“The risk is that the Parent Pledge will create an expectation of specific support on demand, which is not realistic because schools have to think about all their students within the constraints of available resources and budgets which are extremely tight. It would not be at all helpful if this in turn leads to disputes between parents and schools rather than helping them working together.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers’ union, said: “Most schools already provide all the support contained in the parent pledge, and without more practical resources and funding from Government simply setting higher targets won’t necessarily result in higher attainment.

“A pledge without a plan is just wishful thinking.”

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