Mask pic

Do parents want face masks in schools?

It can be hard work keeping up with all the education announcements as the government cajoles kids back to school. But regular Parent Pingers will know that cajoling isn’t necessary as the majority of parents tell us that they will be sending their kids in. This week’s U-turn announcement focused on masks, and again it seems that this is slightly out of step with parental demand…

More on that below, plus (in case schools have to shut again) flexible working and (in case you have to complain) who’s responsible for education. 

1. Who should wear a mask?

Fewer than one in five parents told us that children wearing a mask indoors at school would be the most reassuring precaution their child’s school or nursery could put in place. As might be expected, parents of older children are slightly more in favour of the measure, but even amongst this group only around a third said they found it the most reassuring thing a school could do.

In fact, it is the minimum Covid safety precautions that schools are likely to have in place such as increased handwashing and smaller class sizes / bubbles that are most reassuring to parents.

A third of respondents told us that someone in their household has had a Covid test. This was higher amongst families with pre-school aged children, perhaps because so many early childhood events – from teething to a tummy bug – can present similar initial symptoms as Covid.

2. Who will look after the kids?

Around two-thirds of parents told us that they can take time off work to care for a sick child. BUT this data looks like it might be skewed by the parents who work as teachers within our sample. 70% of parents who work as teachers told us they could take paid time off to do this, compared to only 50% of parents who work in other jobs. One to look into further as the PP sample grows.

One way around the sick-day issue can be flexible working. Over half of mums told us that they have requested flexible working, but less than a third of dads. Again, teachers may be skewing our sample here as parents who are teachers seem LESS likely to have requested flexible working that those working in other professions (65% vs 52%).

Parental Leave is available to parents of all children up to 18 years old. Each parent can take up to 18 weeks Parental Leave in total for each eligible child as long as they meet the qualifying criteria. But with 71% of dad’s saying that they have taken it (compared to 57% of mums) we wonder if this has been confused with paternity leave. One to look into further.

3. Who is responsible for education?

Overall, most parents (46%) think that the headteacher is most responsible for the quality of their child’s education, and this appears to increase as kids move through the schooling system.  Mums are slightly more likely to think this than dads, but interestingly – especially in light of Covid & home-schooling etc. – more dads than mums think that parents are most responsible, although the proportions of both are very small.

The importance of school governors was highlighted by responses to our question ‘if you had a problem with a school and felt that the headteacher had not resolved it, who would you complain to?’ A massive 88% of parents said they would contact the governors. The only group that this wasn’t as high for was parents who have a child with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) who told us that the Local Authority and Ofsted were also places they would turn to to a greater extent than other parents (but the sample here is VERY small, so do treat this finding with EXTREME caution).

And also

Staff at Parent Ping Towers had big arguments professional discussions about which princesses and superheroes to include in last Sunday’s question about role models, but in the end it didn’t really matter as the most common response (28%) was that none of the superheroes are seen as role models for children (although 24% of dads cast a valiant vote for Spiderman). Princesses fared only slightly better, with Moana uniting mums & dads to come out top of the poll (shortly followed by ‘none of these’).

"With great power comes great responsibility"

Top tips

Our most read link this week was this set of tips on work-life balance. If you have any blogs, articles, podcasts or videos you’d like to recommend as our daily tip, please do let us know.

Coming up next week

Next week we have questions about mobile phones and chores. We’ll also be doing a final check on who’s bought all their school uniform 👀 Some of the tips next week will be targeted at pre-school, primary or secondary parents. Let us know if you think this is a good move via the app feedback.

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