Question the quality of your school

So, you’re a five-star quality teacher? And your school is of five-star quality too? Maybe you’re right. There’s a way to find out. Ask the learners, parents and fellow staff members.

A questionnaire — whether verbal or written — is a quality measurement tool. You might have had the telephonic one … normally around supper time. A service provider asks you questions on a topic such as car insurance. Then there are the one-on-one interviews in which pre-set questions are asked. An example would be the principal who has an exit interview with a staff member who is leaving.

The written questionnaire is used worldwide by fine schools. It can be designed to focus on a particular group, such as learners in a particular grade or parents across the whole school.

Questionnaires help the school both to understand and to serve the community better. A well-designed questionnaire gives answers to these sorts of questions:

  • What is presently being done well;
  • What needs to be improved;
  • Problems that the school might not be aware of;
  • Improvement ideas that the school might consider implementing; and
  • Breakthrough or “blue sky” solutions to problems.

Educators might be wary of questionnaires. One principal commented: “They [the parents] will only find fault!” True, a meaningful questionnaire does pinpoint areas that need to be improved. Yet there’s the other side. Most parents normally don’t give opinions about the school. The reason is simple: they’re never asked. Ask them to give their evaluations and opinions. You could be pleasantly surprised by their level of appreciation for what you do.
Questionnaires usually contain both closed and open-ended questions.


Closed-ended questions
The closed-ended question asks for an answer that normally consists of a single word such as “Yes” or “No”, a specific bit of information or selecting one item from a list of multiple choices. Examples from a grade seven questionnaire are:

  1. Were you elected as a children’s councillor this year? Yes …. No …
  2. What was your favourite subject in grade seven? ……………………………..
  3. Tick your personal response to this statement: “I have enjoyed my year in grade seven.”

Open-ended questions
Open-ended questions invite comments, ideas, personal experiences and suggestions. They often start with words such as: How, What and Why. Examples from a grade seven questionnaire are:

  1. How could our school be an even better one?
  2. What is the most unforgettable thing that happened to you in primary school?
  3. Why did you choose (insert subject) as your favourite subject?

When compiling a written questionnaire, three basic rules are:

Rule one: Make sure that the question is easily understood. There should be no ambiguity or misunderstanding about what is being asked.
Rule two: Use plain words. Some of the people answering the questionnaire might have difficulty reading English.
Rule three: Do a dry run of the questionnaire with a few people. It’s a way of checking for possible mistakes and misunderstandings.

What questions should be asked in a questionnaire? Every school has unique issues, but there are aspects that are common to most. Here is a sample of common closed-ended questions in a parent questionnaire:

“Kindly indicate in the block alongside the question the number that best describes your response to these statements:

  1. My telephone calls to the school have been answered promptly.
  2. When visiting the school, I’m made to feel welcome.
  3. The principal has been approachable when contacted.
  4. Discipline at the school is sound.
  5. The school children are courteous.
  6. Incidents of bullying have been dealt with in an effective way.

Two sample open-ended questions to parents would be:

  1. Is there anything happening at the school that you would like to see either changed or stopped? If so, please indicate.
  2. Do you have ideas on how to further improve the quality of education given to the children? If so, kindly give your recommendations.

Quality schools aren’t afraid of assessing their levels of quality. Questionnaires help them to become even better.

Richard Hayward is attached to the South African Quality Institute, which conducts Total Quality Education programmes across the country. Please contact Vanessa du Toit on 012-349-5006 ([email protected]) or Hayward on 011-888-3262 ([email protected]) for more details. Poor schools are sponsored.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Richard Hayward
Richard Hayward Properties. Richard Hayward is a property developer and landlord based in South Wales. The business has various ventures underway! Richard Hayward has over 93 followers on Twitter.

Related stories

White elephant schools reveal lack of progress

The schools rationalisation programme is two decades old, but is still plagued by inconsistencies

Government must give a helping hand to learners who drop out

We cannot simply accept that 75 000 young people or more have dropped out of school this year and that life continues as normal — we need to give them opportunities

Covid-19 in classrooms: When a cough causes chaos

Despite the department of basic education’s announcement that teachers and learners were given orientation about the coronavirus, anecdotal evidence doesn’t bear this out

International students need equal care

Contradictory pandemic regulations could to be putting critical training in jeopardy

DBE: 95% of schools to open on June 8

After a week’s delay, the basic education minister said the majority of schools are ready to open, but added that ‘the golden rule is, there will be no school that will resume, if not ready to do so’

Schools: Confusion rather than clarity and confidence reign

The way in which Angie Motshekga has handled the reopening of schools has caused many people to lose confidence in her
Advertising

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Durban city manager says NPA erred in his bail conditions

The corruption-fraught metro is coming to grips with having a municipal manager who is on bail for graft, yet has returned to work

Why anti-corruption campaigns are bad for democracy

Such campaigns can draw attention to the widespread presence of the very behaviour they are trying to stamp out — and subconsciously encourage people to view it as appropriate

Tax, wage bill, debt, pandemic: Mboweni’s tightrope budget policy statement

The finance minister has to close the jaws of the hippo and he’s likely to do this by tightening the country’s belt, again.

SA justice delays extradition of paedophile to UK

Efforts to bring Lee Nigel Tucker to justice have spanned 16 years and his alleged victims have waited for 30 years
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday