British parents call for a radical overhaul of the education system, saying that secondary school is not working for over a quarter (28 per cent) of children.
According to independent education foundation Edge, it is a situation that worsens with age as 40 per cent of 15-16 year olds are failing to thrive at school.
And this appears to be impacting on happiness levels as a quarter (26 per cent) of secondary school mums and dads admit they often worry their child is not happy - 23 per cent saying their offspring has not been happy since starting secondary school.
Questioning the one-size fits all approach, two fifths of parents (42 per cent) claim that only academically minded children do well at school. To rectify this bias, 48 per cent of mums and dads say they would like more vocational and practical learning alongside the current academic based provision.
Recognising their child's talents and abilities aren't being catered for, 47 per cent are calling for a revolution in education. More than a third of these (38 per cent) want more tailored 'made to measure' schooling for their children with 61 per cent specifying they would like a broad curriculum which gives their child experience of life skills and the world of work.
It certainly seems that school is failing to prepare students to face today's challenging recruitment climate - 43 per cent of mums and dads said they did not feel their child was being adequately prepared for the world of work and 42 per cent for life in general.
Andy Powell, chief executive of Edge, said, "Every child should thrive at school and have their individual talents recognised but as this research shows parents recognise that is not happening. The education system has changed and some schools are doing great things but it hasn't changed fast enough and as a result is still failing many children. We need to move away from the one-size-fits-all system to one that is more tailored and more inclusive of practical and vocational learning with young people given the chance to develop their own talents though real world experience.
"We have already identified the Six Steps to Change we believe are needed to create the best education system for our children and to provide the many paths to success they deserve. To ensure the need for these changes is recognised we are inviting everyone to 'join the revolution' and to have their say on education by adding their voice to the movement at http://www.edge.co.uk/revolution."
Psychologist Donna Dawson has compiled a checklist of tell-tale signs to help parents identify if their child is not happy at school and provide guidance on the actions they should take.
Thriving at school? A checklist for parents by Psychologist Donna Dawson
If you are concerned your child's not happy at school it may simply be because they are not thriving in the environment and haven't had the chance to explore their talents and the many options available. Look out for the tell tale signs and be aware of how to take action to support your child:
Change in attitude to school:
- Your child appears to dread or dislike attending school
- Your child feigns illness, sleeps in, takes longer to get ready and makes themselves late
- Your child doesn't appear to be doing any homework, and doesn't seem bothered by this
- Your child is depressed, withdrawn and socially cut-off
Change in personality:
- Your child is seeking attention and approval elsewhere, such as becoming the class clown or having more late nights out with friends
- Your child is distracted by other activities such as visiting social networking sites
- Your child is acting up and venting their frustration on family members or other people in their life
Advice for parents
Listen to your child and help them find out what they're good at and what interests them.
Research the range of options available and talk to them about how they are getting on at school and find out:
- Whether they are aware of the education and careers available to them
- Which subjects interest them, and which ones they find boring, overly-difficult, or feel are not relevant
- Whether your child likes to learn practically.
Whether your child feels they are getting the opportunity to learn hands on
- Where your child's talents, skills and interests lie, and whether the curriculum is meeting this
Get to know your child's school and his teachers:
- Meet your child's teachers and inspect the school facilities
- Discuss your child's strengths and weaknesses, talents, skills and outside interests
- Find out if the curriculum is flexible and well-rounded
- Explore whether there are different teaching styles to suit your child's interests and abilities, including both practical and theoretical
- Investigate if the schoolwork is stimulating and challenging, with applications to real life
- Check if your child's school offers work experience
Provide support, encouragement and practical help:
- Highlight the importance of their education
- Link their education to their future success, a higher sense of personal achievement, and higher earning potential in the future
- Make sure you and your child know all the options available to them
- Help your child gain work experience and key life skills
- Make your views heard
For more information on how to join the campaign to ensure children have the chance to develop their individual talents at school through different ways of learning please visit http://www.edge.co.uk/revolution
Research was carried out by PCP. Total sample size was 1,028 parents of 11 to 16 year olds currently attending state secondary school in the UK. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th to 8th May 2009. The survey was carried out online. The figures are representative of parents of 11 to 16 year olds in the UK.