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This is why your feedback matters: interview with a principal on the School Satisfaction and Climate Survey

31 Aug 2020

Students shared reading with a lady

Belinda Fenn has been Principal of Taylor Primary School for 3 years. We spoke with Belinda to find out a little more about the School Satisfaction and Climate Survey and how Principals use the feedback received to make meaningful change in their school communities.

  1. What is the survey and how is it used by schools?

    In the school improvement process we look at multiple sources of data, the School Satisfaction and Climate survey is a piece of perception data and is a valuable piece of data when used in alignment with other data sources, such as demographics, evidence of student learning and school based processes. I use the data over years to look for patterns, the patterns might highlight an area our school excels at, or somewhere that might be an opportunity for improvement. It allows us to understand how members of our community are perceiving what happens at the school. Parents may have a different perspective to students, who have a different perspective to staff. It’s so important that we hear from everyone.

  2. What areas was Taylor Primary School already strong in?

    The data we get from parents and carers has always been really positive but we continue to ask: how do we maintain this, how do we strengthen this? From the survey results over the years we can see that Taylor Primary is strong in community perception. To continue strengthening this community feel we’ve held community consultation, we have Positive Behaviours for Learning and we’re always talking to parents to ensure everyone has a shared understanding. From looking at the data, we can see that parents want us to prioritise wellbeing, so we made sure that this was a key priority in our new strategic plan. Then we use the perception data as a target in our strategic plan, aiming to improve our results each year.

  3. What areas have you improved based the survey data?

    One of the common threads we could see from analysing the survey results, along with our other pieces of data, was a strong desire from our staff to change the way they were receiving feedback on their practice. Research has shown that the most effective way to improve student learning is to improve teacher practice, so this was a really good area for us to focus on and became our main strategy. We worked to build teacher capacity, build their toolkit, pedagogy and a shared understanding of ‘best practice’. We worked towards building a culture of positive feedback, coaching and mentoring.  Similarly, from the student survey we learned students wanted more feedback on their learning. It’s great that the two things go hand in hand! These are the goals for our strategic plan, we want staff to feel like they’re receiving great feedback on their practice and for students to be receiving valuable feedback to improve their learning.

  4. Have you seen an impact from the changes implemented?

    The most powerful feedback is seeing an improvement in student learning. We’ve seen incredible improvement over the last two years. We’ve been able to build such a good whole school approach and shared understanding of our priorities, what we’re about and what our focus is.

  5. Why is it important that parents, staff and students participate in the survey?

    We really encourage the community to give feedback. The more responses, the more reliable the data. Even if you’re really happy and satisfied with everything, take the time to tell your school that! It’s okay to say if you’re not happy as well, this is your opportunity to voice those concerns, we’re listening.

  6. What are you looking forward to most for Taylor Primary School in the coming years?

    The work our teachers do is just amazing, and they’re always looking for ways to be better. I love the school and the community here; we’re in a good position and I look forward to taking those next steps together. For our teachers and students to improve on their personal best, guided by a clear and focussed strategic plan.

Four images of reading and studying