n South African Journal of Education - What do parents really want? Parents' perceptions of their children's schooling




International evidence confirms that parental involvement has substantial benefits for families and schools, as well as longterm economic benefits for developed and developing countries. To implement sound parental involvement two-way communication between home and school is essential. Schools worldwide tend to focus on communication from the school to the home, and afford parents fewer opportunities to express their perceptions of the quality of schooling. However, researcher-based, national and international surveys of parent opinion indicate that school endeavours to improve learner outcomes depend to a large extent on the data provided by parents. This article examines parents' perceptions of their child's schooling, gathered by means of an annual questionnaire administered in a public primary school in Gauteng, South Africa.A researcher-designed questionnaire administered annually over two consecutive years (2012 and 2013) was used to gauge parents' opinions of school culture, home-school communication, classroom instruction and classroom organisation. The results indicate that parents were generally satisfied with all four areas. However, parents indicated concerns about reporting on an individual learner's progress, academic achievement, and social and emotional wellbeing, as well as academic enrichment opportunities, and ways for parents to assist learning at home. In terms of classroom instruction and organisation, variations in parent responses emerged according to grade levels, and over the two-year reporting period. Recommendations were made, which could benefit other schools wishing to improve two-way communication with families through parent questionnaires.


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