Parents Network survey results

Rachael White, Chair of the Parents Network, shares some early headline findings from the recent Parents Network pulse surveys.

“Thank you for all your contributions to the pulse surveys. The final one closed late last week and we’re now at a stage to share some early headline findings from the surveys with you and also to let you know about some next steps.

“A lot of parents throughout the course of the surveys asked about an opportunity to meet up with other parents. We have set up an initial drop-in session for 1-2pm on Tuesday 23 February as a first chance to discuss the impacts of the announcement of the government road map expected the day before. Everyone is welcome to join us, please drop in at any point during the session using this Google Meet link.

“We’re then looking at offering these drop-in sessions every two weeks as a chance for parents to just meet with a cup of tea and an understanding that life is chaotic at the moment. We have received requests to offer these groups split by need or age of children and we are hoping to offer breakout rooms for subsequent events. We will email you when we have further dates, or keep an eye on our web pages.

“Over the course of the four weeks of the surveys, parents’ ability to cope fluctuated. The ability to cope depended on many factors, not just age of children, but the number of adults in the house and the working situations of those adults. Overall, we saw an increase in the ability to cope between weeks one and two, and then a fall off in people’s ability to cope between week three and week four. We will do some additional analysis on this and share this with you when it is complete.

“Almost 40 per cent of parents said they were having problems with their WiFi now they were coupling work with homeschooling. IT Services has suggested this helpful article about how to boost your home WiFi. They have also said that if you are still having ongoing issues you are welcome to call/email the IT Service Desk for advice.

“Thank you so much for all the personal stories you have shared about your concerns for the future. This is a big area and we’re taking some time to look through these closely to identify areas we can work with the University to take forward. We’re also looking at what else we can do as a parents network in this area.

“Another area highlighted was regarding staff requesting to be furloughed. Whilst furloughing individuals with children is permitted under the rules of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, universities, along with other bodies where roles are publicly funded, have greater restrictions on how the scheme can be used, so it would not be possible for us to apply this in a consistent way across the University. The University is committed to supporting staff with childcare responsibilities and individuals should discuss with their managers what support or flexibility would be useful, irrespective of whether they are or are not furloughed. If you would like to discuss this further, you are welcome to speak to your Faculty HR Manager, or if you are in Professional Services, please contact Karen Smith (Corporate Services) or Matt Wood (Academic Services).

“As you can appreciate, the surveys themselves generated a lot of data. We are working through the findings and raising issues with the appropriate parts of the University. We will continue to do this work but if you do have anything you want to raise with us please email parentsnetwork@sheffield.ac.uk

“Many thanks again for your continued support of the Parents Network though this difficult time.”