From Mr Nightingale

What on earth would students know about education?

You might have heard that this week the students in High School have been completing surveys about their teachers. Far from simple popularity contests, however, (e.g. What don’t you like about school? Who is your favourite teacher?) the PIVOT surveys have been asking 25 targeted questions aligned to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

Our intention is for each teacher to gain a snapshot of what it is like to be a learner in their classrooms. Hopefully, school leaders will also gain insights into any patterns that emerge across year groups or faculties. To benefit as much as possible from the data, we will also conduct a series of follow-up surveys later in the year.

Now, there might have been a time in the far distant past when the average teacher wouldn’t necessarily have wanted to ask students, or even parents for that matter, about what was working well, or what could be done to improve how students are learning. It turns out, however, that many students are quite good judges of their own education and asking them for feedback can bring benefits to students and teachers alike.

Student voice is not just about opportunities to share ideas and opinions. It is about empowering students to make our school a better place. It is providing opportunities to collaborate and make decisions in partnership with adults about learning. And there is strong evidence to show that when students have greater input, they become more engaged and motivated in their learning.

It’s also important for parents to understand how the PIVOT Surveys won’t be used at our school. Firstly, they aren’t tests where there are right or wrong answers. Students do not receive a final score, and no report is sent home! Surveys cannot be used to “spy” on students. Each survey is anonymous, and the teachers do not see individual student responses. Instead, they receive aggregated feedback from each class as a whole.

Most teachers see this as a real opportunity to use feedback as a way of working together with students to improve the learning culture of our classrooms.

If you have any questions or concerns about the PIVOT surveys, please do not hesitate to contact me about them at nightingalem@wccs.nsw.edu.au.

Michael Nightingale
Director of Teaching and Learning