So far during our parental partnerships series, we've focussed on things which individual professionals can do to help. In this post, we will be looking at how a team's commitment to gathering honest parent feedback can support everyone's positive relationships with parents.
Not only does gathering real feedback from parents help build positive relationships, it also meets OFSTED's expectations. As page 30 of the inspector's handbook states, the quality of leadership & management in an early years setting is in part evidenced by the collection and use of parent feedback.
Perhaps the quickest and easiest for everyone involved, online surveys are a great way of gathering feedback. Free tools like SurveyMonkey are easy to use, and let you create a simple survey in minutes. By asking parents to share feedback in this way, you can immediately and easily analyse the results. If you're not sure about how to analyse the results of your survey, take a look at our free parent feedback pack which includes a free analysis tool.
Old Fashioned Paper Surveys
Sometimes the old ways are the best. Having a stack of printed surveys on clipboards by your front door may generate a better response rate from parents. Parents are more likely to complete a survey while waiting for their child, than they are to an email later. It's a pain to manually enter responses into a computer for analysis, however if your survey isn't too long and your setting isn't too big, you should be ok. Our free parent feedback pack includes a template survey you can use.
We've borrowed this idea from Waitrose who do something similar to select local charities to support. Put up a sign somewhere visible in your setting with a feedback statement on it. Something like, "I feel well informed about my child's development & progress". Underneath the sign, have 4 buckets, jars or other containers labelled "strongly agree", "agree", etc. This works best if the containers are see-through. For a full week, every time a parent collects a child, give them a coin or token of some kind and ask them to put it into the bucket which reflects their attitude to the statement best.
This approach is quite bold as there's no hiding the results. Everyone will be able to see if the vast majority of parents are selecting a negative response. On the flip side, if you're doing well as a setting, parents will react well to your transparency.
You could use any of the statements in the sample feedback questionnaire available in our free parent feedback pack for your vote.
The Giant Spider Web
Our last suggestion is the most visually striking, and labour intensive option. It will probably need a member of the team to stay with the web at all times that there are parents in the setting, and will suit larger settings better. To make this work, you'll need a whole wall covered in paper, with a large circle on it. You then divide the circle into 6 - 8 "slices", and in each slice you write a feedback statement. The circle is also labelled to show that the thin end of each slice is the "disagree" place, and the wide end is for "agree".
As parents pass the web, the team member who is looking after it invites them to share their feedback. Giving parents little circle stickers, ask them to place a sticker in each slice to show how they feel about each of the feedback statements. Over time, as more parents add stickers to the web, you will build up a clear graph of feedback. At the end of the feedback period, you should be able to see, and could even draw lines to show the average response to each statement. Our free parent feedback pack has diagrams showing how this can work.