A Focus On Holistic Education is #trending In Schools

By: McCrindle

As when, where and how we work shifts, greater attention is being given to the holistic upbringing of students in school.

More than just teaching for tests, there is a shift taking place from focusing on just the educational basics of literacy and numeracy, to education of the whole child.

“What I find from parents wanting to bring their sons to The King’s School is that while they’re looking at the rankings of schools in the newspaper based on HSC results, they’re actually choosing a school based on the kind of person they want their child to become. That doesn’t mean that the academics are unimportant, but if you don’t have the academics well then people will walk away. So, I say academic excellence is necessary, it’s just not sufficient for a good education.” – Headmaster, The King’s School

The research confirms this with three in ten parents (31%) strongly or somewhat agreeing they place greater expectations on their child’s school for their holistic upbringing than their parents did.

If this figure includes those who slightly agree, it rises to one in two parents (50%) agreeing they place greater expectations on their children’s school for their holistic upbringing. This indicates a significant shift for the education sector.

Do you place greater expectations on your child/ren’s school/s for their holistic upbringing than your parents did?

Answer %
Strongly agree 11%
Somewhat agree 20%
Slightly agree 19%
The same expectation as my parents 37%
Slightly disagree 7%
Somewhat disagree 3%
Strongly disagree 3%

Basic literacy and numeracy are still key priorities

While parents are placing greater emphasis on a holistic education, they still see a school’s greatest priority as equipping students with basic literacy and numeracy skills. Other key priorities include developing transferable skills which students can apply to all situations and future proofing students by equipping them with the necessary skills to enter the workforce.

While these are parents’ greatest priorities, they are also the areas where schools are not meeting parents’ expectations, such as equipping students with basic literacy and numeracy. Future proofing students and developing transferable skills are also not quite meeting parents’ expectations.

The area where school performance most aligns with parents’ expectations is in educating and informing students on current social issues.

Parents are looking for improvement with the basics

When parents compare students’ capabilities in literacy and numeracy to ten years ago, a third believe students are performing worse. A further three in ten believe literacy and numeracy has remained the same, while a similar proportion believe it is better than ten years ago.

The greatest shift is in student behaviour, where two in five parents (40%) believe it is worse than ten years ago. Principals we surveyed disagree with this sentiment however, believing this to be a perception issue, as teachers are more qualified, and learning is more engaging and interactive than before.

“It is just a perception. Students today are much better prepared and much more well behaved and smarter than we all were… the way of teaching students now is a whole lot better and the relationship the teachers build, the style of teaching we use, engaging students not just delivering. We use a lot of project-based learning which is very effective, and they rise to the challenge”. – Executive Principal, St Philip’s Christian College

Parents value the educational partnership

As there is a greater focus on the holistic education of students, parents value an educational partnership with their child’s school.

The key areas where parents value equal responsibility with schools are:

  • Academic development (46%)
  • Developing social skills (41%)
  • Discussing social issues (39%)

When it comes to instilling values and beliefs (70%), enforcing discipline (67%) and character development (66%), parents are most likely to see this as their own responsibility.

This can be challenging for teachers when it comes to disciplining students, as they do not always feel supported by parents in their role.

“The amount of times I call home and the parent backs up the student no matter what. When I was at school, if I got a call home, my mum would absolutely berate me. But now, the parents are backing the student. I feel like as a teacher, the parents don’t back me.” – Teacher

Positively more than four in five parents say that if their school contacted them about their child speaking back to the teacher, there would be consequences at home (86% yes definitely/somewhat).

So, while there may be instances where teachers are not feeling the support of parents, more than four in five parents are choosing to support teachers and provide consequences at home for misbehaviour.

Article supplied with thanks to McCrindle.

About the Author: McCrindle are a team of researchers and communications specialists who discover insights, and tell the story of Australians – what we do, and who we are.