Ofsted: what are parents thinking?

The findings from Ofsted’s Annual Parents Survey were published earlier this year, revealing parents’ awareness and perceptions of Ofsted. We look at some of the key findings

The latest Annual Parents Survey was developed with Ofsted and carried out by YouGov between 23 November and 28 November 2018. In total, 1,111 parents had their say – 1,000 with a school-aged child and 111 with a pre-school-aged child attending childcare. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all parents in England by family type, age of family reference person, social grade and region.
Awareness and perceptions of Ofsted

  • Levels of awareness of Ofsted remain unchanged since 2017, with six-in-ten (59%) parents knowing a lot or a fair amount about Ofsted, while 35% claimed to know just a little. A further 3% said they have heard of Ofsted but know nothing about them and 2% have never heard of them.
  • Three quarters of parents continue to feel Ofsted is a reliable source of information and there has been a small drop in parents who feel information from Ofsted is unreliable (16% – down from 19% in 2017).
  • Of those who feel that information is unreliable, the most cited reasons for this are that the childcare provider, school or college is different during the inspection; and inspections are too short to provide a meaningful picture of the childcare provider, school or college.
  • 2018 has seen an increase in agreement that Ofsted is a reliable measure of a childcare provider’s quality (63% agree – up from 57% in 2017). Meanwhile, 67% agree that Ofsted’s work helps to improve standards of education – this is up from 63% in 2017.
  • Ofsted reports/judgement are the second main source that parents use when choosing a childcare provider – behind word of mouth from other parents – and the second the most important factor in choosing a provider – behind proximity of the provider to home.

Ofsted ratings and inspection reports

  • Nine-in-10 (89%) parents know the Ofsted rating of their child’s childcare provider or school.
  • There has been a drop in the per centage of parents who use the Ofsted website to first find out a school or childcare provider’s rating (18% from 20%) – communication from the school comes out on top.
  • It remains the case that the vast majority (84%) of parents have read an Ofsted report at some point and most (80%) continued to find the report useful.
  • Only 17% of parents were aware of the ‘outstanding’ exemption and most were not in agreement with the current policy. Many felt that standards change quickly, with more than 80% feeling these schools should be inspected more often or the same amount as schools rated ‘good’.

Perceptions of the curriculum

  • Eight-in-10 parents feel they have a good or reasonable understanding of their child’s curriculum. However, 19% feel the school is placing a greater focus on the content of a child’s learning than getting good results for children.
  • Parents with children at academy or free schools are significantly more likely to think the school places a greater focus on good results than those at maintained schools (27% compared with 21%).
  • Parents are most likely to believe the ‘core’ subjects of maths, English and science are sufficiently covered in their child’s education. However, just four-in-10 parents – or fewer – feel that subjects such as art, music, languages and D&T are sufficiently covered.

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