Parents’ organisation, Connect, has just launched its latest survey

Tina Woolnough/Eileen Prior reflect on Connect’s ‘How are you doing?’ survey of family life in lock down in April.

Connect’s first lock down parent/carer survey ran from 1 -30 April. It asked parents and families: “how are you doing?” The survey received over 1,500 responses, with detailed, sometimes heart-rending, descriptions of the challenges faced by families under huge pressure. 

Questions focussed on how parents/carers were feeling, how they were managing, whether they had everything they needed (food, money, support, advice/information and equipment for doing schoolwork at home). The survey also asked about communication with schools/nurseries. This was sometimes good, sometimes patchy and sometimes non-existent, with a few families reporting, even at the end of April, that they had not had any contact from their child’s school.

In summary, just over 50% of respondents were doing OK. Most families had concerns or worries, which ranged from anxiety about their own or their children’s health, including mental health, falling behind with schoolwork, the cancellation of exams and being unable to get food shopping. The pressures on families to get school work done were significant too, sometimes because parents were juggling work or caring for younger children, sometimes because work being sent home made no sense, was on several different online platforms or was inaccessible (requiring a printer or a laptop to do it). Other families, particularly those with health issues, money worries or children with additional support needs, were really struggling. Over 20 areas of concern were raised by parents.

To help change things on the ground, Connect released raw interim data after two weeks so that national and local government, schools and teachers could hear parents’ voices directly and take action urgently, by reaching out to families to offer support.

When the full survey report was ready, it was shared it widely and raw data made available if local authorities wanted to see their own area’s data. A number of local authorities took up this opportunity, so they could make sure they were doing everything possible to support families. Connect also published several parent ‘asks’ to set out clearly what families needed.

Connect’s latest survey for parents/carers, ‘Next steps (back to school) & How are you doing now?’, was launched earlier in June. Connect is determined to make sure parents’ voices are heard and that plans for re-opening schools, with the proposed ‘blended learning’, fully involve parents and families. Cabinet Secretary, John Swinney, has said he expects local authorities and schools to be as creative and flexible as they can be, and that parents should be involved and consulted about local proposals. Connect will play its part in helping to make this happen.

Connect’s Next Steps (back to school) & How are you doing now? survey is open until 30 June.

Connect’s first How are you doing? survey report along with the parent ‘asks’ are here 

Follow Connect on Twitter @connect_scot and Facebook @ConnectScot.