Parents confident they understand diversity issues in education

While 91% of parents told Parentkind they had a good understanding of issues relating to diversity, fewer than two-thirds said their personal background was reflected in what their child was taught

An overwhelming majority (91%) of parents feel that they have a good understanding of issues relating to diversity and inclusion in education, according to a new survey by Parentkind.

The education charity’s Diversity and inclusion in schools report also found that 71% of parents agree that their child’s school celebrates diverse cultures, people and experiences in its teaching.

That breadth of celebration notwithstanding, a significant minority of respondents felt that their own personal story lacked representation, with fewer than two-thirds (60%) agreeing that their background was reflected in what their child was being taught in school.

Two-thirds of parents said that they would like to be involved in helping their child’s school with diversity and inclusion.

One in five parents said that they did not feel confident talking to their child about LGBT+ and non-binary definitions.

In other findings, 40% of parents felt that gender stereotypes influence the subjects their child is interested in learning at school, while 37% said such stereotypes influence their child’s career aspirations.

Sixty-one percent of respondents said that the Black Lives Matter movement had prompted them to think about the diversity of the curriculum and what is taught in school.

Parents clearly support the work already done on diversity and inclusion, but there remains more to be done – John Jolly, Parentkind

While the report doesn’t give the exact figure, it claims that a “notable minority” of parents were concerned that schools were falling short when it came to issues related to children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), particularly in terms of neurodiversity.

“There are far too many schools that aren’t inclusive towards children and young people with SEND,” said one respondent. “They are seen as a burden [with] little to no focused training to support these children in mainstream.”

When it comes to assessing the report’s representative value, it should be noted that the figures are extrapolated from only 454 respondents to an unweighted online survey.

Nevertheless, the deliberate mirroring of question asked of teachers in Pearson’s Diversity and inclusion in schools research and report offers some interesting differences in perspective between parents and educators.

For example, while 66% of teachers said education provided in schools today is inclusive of all pupils in the UK, barely a third (36%) of parents agreed. Similarly, whilst 61% of teachers agree that the system supports learners to succeed after leaving education, only 29% of parents share this view.

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A third of parents said that having more flexibility to adapt teaching to suit the different ways pupils learn would most help to raise children’s aspirations and outcomes, a view held by fewer than one in five (18%) of teachers.

“One thing that is clear from these results is that parents support the work already done on diversity and inclusion, but there remains more to be done,” said Parentkind CEO, John Jolly.

“Particularly in regard to gender stereotypes and LGBT+ issues, there is further to go to ensure that schools are supportive spaces and that parents are equipped for these conversations with their young people.

“As this work takes place, and the education system better responds to the diversity and inclusion agenda, parents’ voices should be heard loud and clear.”

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