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Why student and parent voices are so valuable

By Greg Whitby, 4 July 2018

 

Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta

If you’re a customer of a major bank or insurer, then it’s likely you would have received an invitation to complete a customer feedback survey. Businesses everywhere particularly in the digital age are seeking feedback on the services provided. Think of Uber, Airbnb, TripAdvisor, and Airtasker that ask customers for feedback each time they use the service. Customer feedback is essential to businesses and organisations in improving their service. Having happy customers encourages continuous improvement.

Student (and staff) feedback is also important when it comes to improving the work of schools. When we know what students are thinking about their learning, how they are feeling and what they currently know, schools can make adjustments to make so that learning becomes more meaningful.

Government and non-government schools have been using various survey tools to get feedback from students. This feedback has been important in helping each school better understand the needs of their students in areas such as engagement with their learning, their well-being and other areas that matter. These surveys are easy to complete, completed online and are anonymous, allowing students to respond freely and honestly.

Many schools are also using survey tools to gain valuable feedback from parents on their engagement with their school, the quality of school-home communication, their level of contact with teachers and involvement in and understanding of their child’s learning. Parent feedback is just as powerful as student feedback in terms of how schools can better engage and empower parents to support their child’s learning.

It’s important to remember that surveys are just one option for gaining feedback. Face-to-face conversations, student/parent conferences, written communication and parent forums are other equally important ways. What we do know is that when we listen to the views, experiences and reflections of students (and parents), the quality of the learning and teaching improves. Surveys help schools close the gap between what they know and what they don’t know.

After all, every member of every school community has a right to have his or her voice heard, don’t you think?

Greg Whitby

Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta

 

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