Why Survey Your School Community?

Stop guessing. Start asking. The Centre for Marketing Schools offers a menu of affordable school surveys:

Variations are available for Boarding schools. Download the brochure > 

School Satisfaction Surveys Brochure School Satisfaction Surveys Brochure (199 KB)

It's easy to view your school through your own eyes and think you are doing a great job, but looking through the students’ eye will often reflect another picture. The Student Satisfaction Surveys asks students how they feel about their school. Deep emotions sometimes come out, such as the following worrying comment by a Year 12 girl . . .

“The Awards System is poor and needs review. Awards go to the same students over and over. I tried my best and achieved many great things yet I was never recognised.”

Feelings like this can leave an unhealthy mental scar and undermine any school marketing you are doing. What do your students really think about your school? What will they tell others? Stop guessing. Start asking! 

The Centre for Marketing Schools has developed survey tools to measure student, parent and staff satisfaction levels and providing benchmark data. The Centre for Marketing Schools Satisfaction Index is a five point scale derived from numeric data in the survey. 

  • 1.0 to 1.9 = Very high level of satisfaction
  • 2.0 to 2.5 = High level of satisfaction
  • 2.5 to 3.0 = Satisfied, but with concerns
  • 3.0 to 3.5 = Not happy with the school
  • Greater than 3.5 = Seriously low level of satisfaction

There are some interesting feedback from surveys such as these...

  • Teachers should think and act outside the square
  • The prefect selection system needs an overhaul
  • Community service should be encouraged more
  • The school should teach girls about body image

In analysing a parent survey, one school received a Satisfaction Index of 2.34. This is a good result and indicates a High Level of Satisfaction, but the principal was not content with this. He wanted to achieve a Very High Level of Satisfaction. So, he examined each question in the survey and pinpointed areas for improvement and took this data to the school board and staff for discussion. The findings prompted the school to introduce change.

End of year school satisfaction survey

As your school enters the final term of each school year, do you think about your market research?  Are you preparing your end-of-year surveys to measure customer satisfaction? This includes your students, parents and staff. Centre for Marketing Schools completed a Year 6 Survey for a school. Below are some of the revealing messages that came out, which should be considered for the future.

Overall, students made positive responses about the quality of their education, teacher/student relationships and pastoral care, but there were 5 areas where the school needs to pay particular attention . . .

  • 16% of students felt they could be extended more in their work
  • 11% believed teachers did not treat them as mature and responsible
  • 22% said they did not feel fit and healthy
  • 13% wanted clearer instructions about assignments

And very importantly . . .

  • 27% did not feel they were adequately prepared for high school. 

If the parents at your school were asked the following 5 questions, how would their impressions compare with parents at other schools?

  1. Does the school use progressive teaching methods?
  2. Do you feel welcome at the school?
  3. Are you well-informed about your child’s progress?
  4. Are office staff pleasant and helpful?
  5. Are lines of communication between home and school effective?

The Principal as a unique selling proposition

In Parent Satisfaction Surveys a frequent cause of dissatisfaction relates to the invisibility of, or, poor accessibility to, the Principal. This is reflected in unhappy written comments that appear quite frequently, such as:

The Principal:

  • Is too busy to talk to parents.
  • Cannot be bothered attending P&F meetings.
  • Becomes defensive as soon as you ask a question about decisions.
  • Is poor at handling complaints.
  • Won’t take a call. I don’t want to talk to the principal’s assistant!
  • Will only ever communicate through his secretary. Grr…
  • Gives too many empty promises, nothing happens.
  • Is like a car salesman: once you enrol you can never see him.

Survey after survey reveals that when a Principal is perceived as inaccessible, levels of parent satisfaction drop.
How accessible is your Principal? If your parents were asked a question about the accessibility of your Principal what would they say?

A marketing manager whose school is failing to maintain enrolments conducted a parent survey to ascertain the satisfaction level of current parents. With the results in hand she sat down and compared the research findings with her school’s Strategic Intent, recently released by her School Council and Principal. The marketing manager wrote to me saying . . .
“I am alarmed to learn from the market research that the school is charging headlong into a plan that is at odds with the needs and wishes of our customers!”

Market research can affirm what your school is doing well, as well as identify where it needs to improve. CMS has analysed parent surveys from a number of schools and in one survey, 3 questions flashed red, (out of a pool of 65 questions).

The school received a significantly negative response to the following statements:

  • Incidences of bullying are well dealt with by the school
  • Discipline problems are competently handled
  • The school helps my child deal with negative emotions

Overall, the survey revealed that parents believe the school is performing well in academic areas, extra curricular activities, communications and staff morale, but there are some serious areas of parental concern.

The principal immediately took this data to the governing body and to the staffroom. He said it was extremely helpful as a catalyst for change.

Julian Schubert, Community Relations Officer at Redeemer Lutheran College in Queensland,  undertook the Year 12 Survey two years in a row. Julian said he looked at other surveys and the Centre for Marketing Schools Survey was the best by far. He said the report he received assisted him greatly in preparing a presentation for the College Executive. “The survey made us more aware of the issues of concern to students, highlighted our strengths and pinpointed areas for attention and it confirmed some of the problems we already suspected.”