How has the pandemic affected parents’ views on broadening the education system?

10 August 2021

The influence of technological developments on our individual lives and on wider society, suggests that we need an education to reflect these changes. For some time, the Royal Society has advocated meaningful high level discussion around educational reform to ensure the nation has the research and development talent required for a strong economy, while setting all young people on a path towards fulfilling lives and occupations.

The proposed reforms include broadening the range of school subjects studied post-16. In 2019, the Royal Society published research carried out by Kantar Public which explored what parents thought about the current education system, and their thoughts about potential changes to the education system in the future. This original study found that parents wanted more work experience as part of any reformed education system, and that parents were wary of any changes to education which would mean more high-stakes assessment for young people. 

In this new study, we found parents’ views on much of the education system to be closely aligned with the original research. However, it appears that parents have spoken more to their children about their current and future education choices, than previously – 68% of parents reported these conversations, with half of them influenced by the pandemic. One-fifth of parents are now more positive about their children studying the sciences post-16 because of the pandemic, while over half of parents surveyed thought that young people should be encouraged to study a broader range of subjects than they currently do. 

This work will continue to inform the Society’s aims around broadening secondary education, particularly over the coming year as we begin to see the medium- and longer-term impacts of the pandemic on the education system.