School Annual Survey

Published on 20 April 2015

This is the 20th year of our annual school survey.  Through the survey we seek the views of students across all year groups, parents, support staff and teaching staff.  It is conducted anonymously and collated in a form that is then published.  Questions have been kept broadly the same to facilitate comparison over time.

Last year we changed the way the survey was conducted from a paper-based survey to an electronic version using a survey tool completed on-line and we have stuck with this again.  It deliberately takes place mid-way through the school year and in the “darkest days” of the winter as we have always done.

All parents were invited to participate through Vandyke Voice and the website and 88 chose to do so, with each year group evenly represented as it turned out.  Student tutor groups and subject classes based in computer rooms were asked to undertake the survey because it required access to a computer. 248 responses were received.  A broadly even spread of students across year groups   was achieved, with slightly more Year 9 and Year 10    respondents.  31 support staff and 33 teachers chose to complete the survey, which is in line with recent years.

Overall responses remain largely positive and are broadly up on last year also, especially in the sections for parents.

The survey is extensive and responses are grouped into a smaller number of categories.  The survey also includes an opportunity for respondents to make additional comments using free text.  The on-line survey has certainly generated more such comments than the paper-based version used to.  These comments are always interesting and are all carefully read but are not reproduced in full in the report.

Comments cover every conceivable aspect of school life and tend to highlight how difficult it would be if the aim was “to keep everybody happy”!  Arrangements for eating and drinking continue to be the major source of comment by students.  While this seems surprising, the comments need to be taken seriously and our frequent and regular student focus group meetings about the café and food served will be taking this on.  The main source of concern is about the amount of seating and does not only relate to the café.  The introduction of a cashless system has also generated a small amount of negative feedback from students.

It is important to re-state that food served in the café meets the government’s very latest school meals nutritional standards and continues to attract only the most positive feedback from visitors when they come into school.  I can say from personal experience that the quality of main meals is high and they represent amazing value for money.  Some student comments may reflect the fact that more students tend to opt for the “grab and go” and “pick and mix” menu, rather than the main, set meals.

We have wanted our survey to focus on a range of matters including learning.  Results in important sections such as Teaching and Learning continue to be especially encouraging.  Again, this year 81% of student respondents expressed satisfaction with the marking of their work and the feedback they receive (12% don’t know).  This is well above levels of satisfaction in the years prior to this and reflects the significant work undertaken in school to improve written feedback.

For parents, a significant number continue to respond with “Don’t know” re the work of governors.  This continues to be the case despite a great deal of work by governors.  The next step will be to produce a governor newsletter each term for parents and work is beginning on this.

Overall satisfaction with the school remains high (87% students agree, with only 3% disagreeing; 97% parents agree, 2% disagree).  95% of parents state that they would recommend the school to new parents moving into the area (1% would not).

One section of the survey provides opportunity for free comment.  Some comments are lovely to read.  Student comments include “I don’t want anything to change because Vandyke is an amazing school and I love it!” and “Do not change the school because it is the best”.  One Year 11 parent wrote that, “My child’s experience has been all positive and she is on track to get  amazing GCSE results.  I can only thank the superb teaching and opportunities she has experienced and cannot praise you more highly.  Thank you, you do a great job.”  A Year 9 parent wrote, “We are really pleased that we chose Vandyke for our child.  It is a very friendly and welcoming school which promotes strong values.”

Reading all of the comments provides a flavour of opinion and spurs us to value our Student Voice and survey work and to continue to work hard at communications with students and parents to build our shared understanding of our world here in school.

I hope you will take some time to review the outcomes in the tables that are reproduced on the school website, as this feedback is an important part of the school self-evaluation process.  I wish to thank everybody who took the time to participate.

Tim Carroll