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Time for reinvention of the school gate

The UK’s first parent to parent social platform found two thirds of primary and secondary school parents don’t know the name of their child’s school friend’s parents. Fathers were nearly three times less likely to know. Three quarters of parents don’t feel as involved in their child’s school life as they would like to be.

The headline above was the key finding of our recent survey at Classlist. Journalists called the results ‘death of the school gate’. In contrast, we see it as our mission to ‘reinvent the school gate’ to support modern living.

Our survey

From our survey of 1540 parents, we found that many parents are increasingly remote from their child’s social world at school. Modern work and life pressures are weakening the school gate community, this is a concern as we believe this is where long lasting friendships between parents and families are often created.

I still remember meeting my dear friend Brenda in the Head Teacher’s office, where all us newbie reception parents squeezed in and listened with trepidation about the repercussions if our child was to ever be guilty of spreading nits to fellow pupils. Being persuaded to participate in triathalons with fellow super athlete mums Gillian, Katie and Nicky. Taking copious mental notes how to be a better parent from numerous inspiring mums and dads – these life changing conversations all occurred at the school gate.

We discovered that two thirds of parents (71%) can’t name their child’s school friend’s parents. Fathers struggled the most.

When asked why they didn’t know, more than three fifths (61%) said it was due to their child having ’multiple friends’ whilst a third (35%) said it was because they never drop off or pick up their child/children from school.

One unexpected finding was that nearly one in ten parents (8%) said they never discuss school with their child.

Parents of secondary school-aged children were less likely to know, with 74% admitting they didn’t know other parent’s names.

Classlist was created by Clare Wright and myself after experiencing in person the difficulty in linking up with other parents. It is what drives us to develop tools to facilitate real life connections via PTA organised social events or just taking a new parent out for coffee. We invest in tools to save parent’s time, whether help with childcare or sourcing lost homework, lost school bag, lost….instrument, shoe etc.

Parent to parent social platform is good for schools

We also hope that OFSTED’s new metric on ‘parental engagement’ will be interpreted by Head teachers as about harnessing the value across the broader parent to parent to school community. Daily we see conversations at the school gate converting into volunteering for school initiatives. With educational budgets under increasing pressure, that has to be a good thing.


About the author

Susan Burton

Susan Burton

Susan is the CEO and founder of Classlist.