How to make surveys in schools effective in a few easy steps

May 6, 2019 1:52 pm
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“I am monarch of all I survey,
My right there is none to dispute,
From the centre all round to the sea,
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.”

When William Cowper wrote this, he could never have realised how far the concept of surveying would have changed by the 21st century! Today, surveying is part of everyday life, from the “How did we do” surveys on our mobiles to 360 all-round surveys at work, we seem to be constantly reviewing and liking or disliking everything.

However, the concept of surveying in schools remains relatively undeveloped. There have always been surveys, mainly to do with impending Ofsted visits or in times of relative pressure. But in todays fast paced, social media driven environment it is imperative to know what your influencers think and be able to respond effectively and appropriately. It is imperative to make intelligence-based decisions on the reality and weight of evidence rather than what you THINK stakeholders want. We believe at EVC that effective surveying in key areas identified by the leadership would help to improve communications with parents, school leavers and students. However, it is crucial to ensure that the survey does the job it is designed to by following the following criteria:

Using the EVC system.
Our online survey software is user-friendly yet advanced enough for your needs. A user-friendly software is imperative, as you’ll want to ensure your surveys can be conducted and responses analysed as efficiently as possible

Focusing your survey
Every Voice Counts main focus is on improving communications, engagement and wellbeing. Surveying parents on a regular, possibly termly basis on topics such as whole school issues, teaching and learning, wellbeing, extra-curricular provision would allow parents to feel they are being listened to, and the school to be able to offer (as far as is possible) the service they want. Couple this with perhaps surveys for Leavers and you start to build an effective two-way communications model.

Anonymity is key
When it comes to surveys, you’ll have to deal with the possibility that your respondents may not be so truthful in answering the questions. They know you will be reading their responses and you may be able to identify them in the process. EVC allows for anonymous responses and you should reassure your surveyors of this fact.

By reaching out to your parents, the people that have invested in the school by sending their children there you never know what untapped opportunities you’ll discover.

Boost and maintain morale
Surveys provide information and guides school management on how best to manage expectation, stimulate dialogues, promote commitment, and improve overall satisfaction. They also enable the school to respond promptly to changing circumstances and maintain control by giving indications on how parents are likely to react to any changes implemented.

Identify problems and issues
The survey discloses how parents feel towards the school and reveals the causes of several problems, such as conflicts and disputes with the school, and low parent satisfaction. From the online survey results, management can determine the steps necessary to address those issues, improve overall satisfaction, and increase engagement.

Assess your policies
Going directly to the employees to ask what they think can help management assess the results of past and present activities, the impacts of certain decisions, and the effectiveness of policies and practices. Lessons can be extracted from the employees’ responses to serve as springboards for future efforts on planning and strategy development.

What a good survey should do and not do!

A short survey is better than a long one. Most participants are willing to spend on average up to ten minutes completing a survey. In practice, this means that an online survey with more than twenty questions is too long.Questions must be easy to understand and answer

In a survey, short questions and short answers are best. Multiple choice questions are a popular option. Avoid asking open-ended questions and be careful not to suggest the answer in the way the question is posed. If possible, offer a scale of answers ranging from negative to positive, for example, 1 being the most negative response and 10 being the most positive.Place sensitive questions at the end

After answering other questions, participants will be open to sharing more sensitive or personal information, like age or education level. Therefore, it is wise to place your more sensitive or personal questions near the end of your online questionnaire.Reassure your respondents that their data is secure

Always tell your participants that their personal details will be kept safe and won’t be shared with any third parties. Including this statement on your online survey can increase the response rate by inspiring trust.

Therefore, we believe that for schools well researched, easy to administer and regular surveying can literally revolutionise relationships with parents and other important stakeholders and allow informed and intelligent decision making.