A grassroots scheme to find out what your local state secondary school is REALLY like.
“Meet the Parents is a brilliant initiative, which should help applicants to state secondary schools feel more confident about what they would be experiencing as students in those schools. As part of a comprehensive-educated dynasty, I hope it becomes part of the fabric of the education system.”Robert Peston, BBC Economics Editor and founder of Speakers for Schools (www.speakers4schools.org)
Meet the Parents gives primary school parents the chance to meet parents and pupils from the local secondary schools, and get frank, first-hand information on their experience there. The idea is simple: to fill an information gap between the increasingly slick secondary school open days on the one hand and the rumour mill on the other. The movement is growing steadily, and we are now working with our first local education authority in Camden to set up events covering eight secondary schools.
As our communities become more fragmented, it is harder for some primary school families to get to know children at the local secondaries – and so parents find themselves relying on gossip and age-old reputations instead of getting “the story” on what’s happening in their local school. In today’s educational landscape schools can change – and improve – extremely quickly. Parents’ views can often lag behind: Meet the Parents is there to ensure they catch up.
Meet the Parents is also a way of helping all parents assess the many different types of secondary school now out there, be they community schools, free schools or academies.
Prospective secondary school parents get the chance to ask the sort of questions they can’t ask on a school visit or open evening. They go to their children’s primary school one evening, and informally put questions to a panel of parents and pupils who have committed to the local schools. Afterwards, they might have the chance to chat more privately to secondary school families during a “mingle” in the school hall over light refreshments.
The events are organised not by the secondary schools but by volunteers. They invite families from all the non-selective secondaries in the local community, usually using their local contacts. There are no vested interests from the secondary schools. The aim is to give primary school parents information they can trust in a setting which is grassroots and down-to-earth.
Children’s Author Charlie Higson on Meet the Parents:
“You should never tell anyone else where to send their kids to school, but any initiative to give parents more information about local state schools and counteract negative impressions given by the media has to be a good thing.
Personally, I wanted my kids to go to school locally so that they would be comfortable in their neighbourhood and mix with local kids. Luckily in my local area (Tufnell Park in North London) we are surrounded by many good state schools so the choice for me was simple. Meet the Parents is a great way to banish the spectre of the scary comprehensive.”