One of the questions I get asked most about by schools once we have dealt with how the system works and the standard GDPR questions, is how do we use it? Now, in many ways this is the “how long is a piece of string” question because without being glib this is the beauty of the system in that it gives you the tools and data to very much individualise and set your own agenda to how to deal with the feedback. However, I would suggest that the following are reasonable ideas and are ones which some schools have used.
The essence of EVC is obtaining constructive and real-time feedback from your immediate employees. The quality of that will very much depend on the question selected and probably/possibly amended to fit your school at that particular time. Then to really engage staff there must be feedback and a level of transparency that each school is comfortable with. If staff, see their suggestions and responses “falling on deaf ears” engagement will inevitably drop off. Therefore, hitting the right level of sharing is really important and acting on the “art of the possible” in providing solutions to staff suggestions imperative. But within the confines of budgets, time and reality how can schools act on excellent feedback?
Build in Feedback time.
This could be done officially into a staff briefing or meeting or electronically. The follow up share of the week could then be consolidated with a set of actions, and dare I say targets which would be achievable and probably incremental. In that way, staff really feel that they have had an input on decision making and leadership are seen to be acting on them.
Also, some perhaps more contentious feedback could have already been dealt with by private message and thus defused.
For longer term issues EVC provides an excellent forum to canvas what INSET teachers might actually want and need. It might also be a useful conduit to get real insight into how useful and constructive INSET actually was.
Hands Up gives an insight into the inner workings of the school and staff. It is an excellent tool for discovering who is actually going the extra mile for the school and students. We always think we know but often the people who volunteer for a lot and don’t run events are NOT recognised leading to frustration. Schools are often made up of lot of self-effacing individuals who shun the spotlight but keep the school running. What better way to recognise these individuals than through the words of their peers?
Schools often have creative and talented staff who might have a whole range of questions they would like to canvas staff about and once approved by management allow issues and possible problems to be aired that are for the collective good. “No one listens to me” is often the quote at exit interviews which could be eradicated if EVC was used as a “bottom up” as well as a “top down” tool.
The key to positive staff engagement is some sort of outcome to the given question. History proves that allowing dialogue with no outcome (Glasnost in the USSR) can lead to more frustration than little or no dialogue at all. Each school will decide on what actions they can take but these actions must be taken and fed back to staff to acknowledge an outcome to the action.
A number of schools have decided to set up wellbeing and action committees which are conduits for EVC. These groups can then refine further and present course of action which can be actioned in due course.
This advice from the charity “Heads together” is well worth taking on board:
“A school’s caring ethos and environment will have a major impact on the wellbeing of its staff and pupils. It’s important for leaders to define that culture and vision, making it clear what behaviours, values and beliefs underpin it. It is important too for the school leadership team (SLT) to build a culture of trust where school staff feel valued, can be open about their health and wellbeing and know how to access support if they need it. For all of this to happen, it is essential for the head teacher and the school leadership team (including governors) to model good mental health and wellbeing behaviour and practice. It is also important for head teachers to remember to look after their own mental health and wellbeing alongside that of their staff.”
Changing a school’s culture may take time, but it is possible. Even in the most supportive school environments, there still may be changes that can be made to improve things.
EVC is the tool and vehicle of whatever school wishes to use it and how they see fit. I would love to have any more ideas and feedback on firstname.lastname@example.org on what your school, could or would do so I can put these out on our social media and blog forums.