“It is difficult to manage what you don’t measure.” These are the words of a factory manager who in speaking from experience, has learned that it is essential to have some form of data at our disposal in order to manage with more efficiency.
As we know, businesses and organizations have been using surveys to find data that they want to use to improve performance from their company. Ofsted has highlighted the importance of attaining information from parents so that schools can make better assessments and respond creatively to issues of priority.
Let’s be honest and say that traditionally, surveys were predominantly seen as a personal inconvenience or worse, a downright nuisance. The reason for this was valid. The burdensome nature of the process can be all too much when there are so many other pressing matters in our busy lives - pages to read, questions to answer, pens to find, envelopes to get, letters to post - All this on top of everything else!
On-line surveys brought a new way of doing things and if we happened to be there on a website at a laptop computer, then it might not take too long to complete. Our human instinct is much more inclined to respond to the airline or hotel post-holiday survey when we don’t have to go out of our way to find it and it looks like it will take just a minute to complete!
There are lots of good reasons why schools would use surveys to establish parent/staff/community views on key issues. These can range from research on ‘On-line Safety,’ ‘Planning for the Term’ or ‘Canteen menus’. The inclusive and listening school strengthens a genuine sense of belonging and makes parents feel valued and part of its decision-making process.
In essence, there are 3 critical aspects to a school survey.
1. Finding the simplest method to issue the survey, such that it will encourage the respondent base to answer.
2. Asking the right questions in an easy format and at the ‘right’ time.
3. Processing the answers once they are received, communicating the results and initiating a follow-up action.
Why A Survey?
While there are many ways to collect relevant data, through a survey, we can learn a lot about what concerns respondents might have. Using methods such as online or mobile surveys offers a more private environment for answers to be recorded.
Within this much less intimidating setting than direct interviews or telephone surveys, the likelihood of honest and open feedback is higher. With quality software capable of recording further live and ongoing information, data can be collected such as learning what areas of a school app are used and what documents are being referred to most frequently.
All of these measurements give a valuable insight into the motivations of parents and what they see as being meaningful to them.
Of course, once this information is all collated, the next step is to respond. This could take the form of inviting discussion where respondents have a chance to be heard and open dialogue on issues of importance.
Communication with parents is about providing stepping stones and showing that at each stage they are being listened to. The survey is only the beginning of course to awareness and reflection. It gives schools the time to reflect and anticipate where dealing with responses can lead. A deeper conversation can follow in time. The big advantage of conducting a survey and finding out objective information is that it can offer a broad sense of how others think and feel about an issue that we can easily view only from our own stand point.
Major decisions for the school deserve as much consideration as possible. Unbiased survey data and analysis helps us cut to the core, save time and focus effort and resources where necessary. Fact findings can be issued at any time with follow ups or additional ones giving more precise information or comparisons. People change their minds, attitudes and opinions over time, (even a short time).
Knowing the trigger points for these changes is vital in learning how people see and understand things at any particular moment, allowing for realistic planning ahead for the future.
The Edtap School App can facilitate schools in conducting surveys, fine tuning audience demographics and creating a stronger connection with your select audience.