Education & Family

Ofsted invites parents to rate schools online

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Image caption Parents will able to give online reviews of schools with a survey of 12 questions

Education watchdog Ofsted is launching a website inviting parents to give their views of schools in England.

Parent View, launching later, offers a 12-question survey covering issues such as bullying and behaviour.

"Parents know how valuable the insight of other mums and dads can be when making choices about schools," said Ofsted chair, Baroness Morgan.

But teachers' union leader Christine Blower has warned that such anonymous reviews are "open to abuse".

Ofsted wants to give parents a stronger voice - and this online questionnaire is intended to allow parents to share their views on their children's schools.

Responses will be published on the website - and they will be saved at the end of the school year to allow annual comparisons.

School reviews

The intention is that parents will use the Parent View website to give first-hand opinions to other parents who are choosing where to send their own children.

When the proposal was announced earlier this year there had been concerns about malicious comments being left on the website.

But there will not be any place for free text, instead parents will be asked to choose from a set of replies. The statements are similar to those currently asked to parents during an Ofsted inspection.

These responses will range from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree".

Parents will have to give an email address to register to use the website, but they will be able to leave their comments without identifying themselves to the school.

The questions set out in Parent View are intended to give an evaluation of the academic progress and well-being of pupils at the school.

They will ask parents about their opinions of how well children are taught and also whether children feel happy and safe. It also asks parents whether they would recommend the school to other parents.

Ofsted says it will monitor the results of the surveys and will be part of the information gathered about whether a school needs to be inspected.

"Whilst parents' views alone cannot trigger an inspection, they will provide a vital piece of the jigsaw," said Baroness Morgan.

But teachers have been uncertain about the value of the website - and wary that it could be used unfairly by parents with a grudge.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "It's not clear why parents, who may have quite legitimate questions to which they seek answers, would choose the route of a questionnaire to express their concerns, or otherwise, about a school.

"Apart from the obvious question as to what useful purpose the questionnaire will serve, this is a system which is open to abuse.

"Schools could easily be targeted by parents unfairly, or even in anger, which could result in a false impression being given of the school."

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