Parents mostly against face masks in classrooms

26 January 2022
What was claimed

A recent poll by parent voice charity Parentkind found that nearly two thirds of parents of secondary school children are not in favour of masks in the classroom.

Our verdict

The survey was not necessarily representative of parents in general. However, other data supports the finding that most parents are opposed to face masks in classrooms.

“A recent poll by parent voice charity Parentkind found that nearly two thirds of parents of secondary school children are not in favour of masks in the classroom.”

“A recent poll by Parentkind of 2,000 parents representing almost 4,000 primary and secondary school children found that almost two thirds of secondary parents disagreed that pupils should wear face coverings in classrooms”.

The Times and MailOnline have reported the results of a recent poll of parents, showing that two thirds of people with children in secondary school were against pupils wearing face coverings in classrooms.

While this may be plausible, the survey was conducted in such a way that the results cannot necessarily be said to be representative of parents in general, meaning they should be treated with caution. 

The data was collected by the charity Parentkind which conducted the research earlier this month

The survey was conducted while face coverings were mandatory in secondary schools in England. The policy has since been rescinded.

A spokesperson for Parentkind told Full Fact that while it limited people to only answering the survey once (by restricting the number of responses from individual IP addresses), it didn’t take any other steps to make sure the parents being surveyed were representative of parents more generally. 

In survey research this is generally achieved by ensuring that the people surveyed are representative of the wider group of interest. For example, if 10% of all parents are based in London, then you might design your survey to ensure that 10% of parents surveyed were in London to match that national profile. If you don’t do this, your results may not be reliable.

In this case we do have some more robust data on the topic from YouGov, which was conducted in a way to be representative of the population at large.

It found that 51% of adults supported secondary school pupils wearing masks in classrooms, but YouGov shared unpublished data with Full Fact showing that among parents of children under 18 specifically, this dropped to 41%. 

By comparison, Parentkind found that 38% of parents it surveyed supported their children wearing face masks in classrooms, whether of primary school or secondary school age.

While it therefore appears that the YouGov data seems to broadly corroborate the Parentkind data, it should be noted that YouGov’s survey was conducted in November 2021, and parental attitudes may have changed since.    

For more on how to analyse and scrutinise data from surveys, read our explainer on the topic.

Image courtesy of Dobrislava via Wikimedia Commons.

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