DfE plans for 'parent portal'

Education white paper includes outline for website to help parents understand school system – and possibility of online brokerage hubs to support weaker schools


The Department for Education (DfE) has laid out plans for a 'parent portal', described as a one stop shop for information on supporting children in the school system

The move is one of the features of Educational Excellence Everywhere, the white paper published yesterday in the aftermath of Chancellor George Osborne's announcement that every school in England will be encouraged to become an academy by 2020.

According to the white paper, the portal will be launched in 2017 and will provide information on school performance, guidance on how the system works and information on specific issues such as the admissions system and complaints process.

Curriculumn priorities

It says the DfE will work with parents to ensure they have the tools they need, and design the portal around priorities such as the areas of a curriculum a child should have mastered by a particular age, the range of extra-curricular activities, and the views of other parents on specific schools.

It should also set expectations for interactions between parents and teachers.

Nicky_MorganEducation Secretary Nicky Morgan (pictured) said: “This portal will provide parents with everything they need to understand their children’s education. It will cut through the jargon we’re all guilty of using and explain what they should be able to expect and when. It will show them how to raise complaints and what options are available to them.”

The portal will become one of a family of websites designed to provide support for parents. In March the DfE relaunched its School and College Performance Tables site, which will be further developed with parent feedback, and in the autumn the schools inspectorate Ofsted is due to launch a new version of its Parent View site.

The white paper also includes a plan for a new national teacher vacancy website to support job hunting in the education system, and points to a more ambitious proposal, which it says is just being explored, to set up a 'matching portal' to help schools find partners and system leader support without turning to central government.

This would complement work in which teaching schools – those with a strong record of working with others – can provide brokerage hubs for other leaders. The purpose would be to provide support for schools that need extra help.

Journal access

The DfE also expresses support for work on a portal to give teachers access to education journals, although it does not provide any specifics and the issue has been controversial. There have been complaints in the education press about teachers in England having to pay for online access to journals which their counterparts in Scotland are able to view for free.

Major features of the paper include the plan for all schools to become academies – effectively removing them from local authority management – a new accreditation system for teachers, and changes in the schools inspection process.

Picture from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0