Our annual survey – overview of the outcomes

Wednesday 11 August 2021

We hope you’re managing to enjoy some rest and recuperation this summer. This long message has no essential information – it’s for your awareness only.

Every year, we invite you to let us know how we’re doing via the annual survey of parents/carers. Thank you to the 16 parents/carers who responded. (Figures below may not total this because some people didn’t express an opinion to each question.)

We asked about some of the changes we’ve made due to Covid. Here’s what you said.

Parent-teacher meetings

Only 2 people said they’d like these to continue by Zoom and 7 said they’d prefer the meetings to return to being in person. 6 people said they’d like a mixture – this seems to be the best way for all in that it’s convenient to meet by Zoom, but we recognise the value in coming into school to properly meet the teacher and to have the chance to check out your child’s books. Based on this, we plan to host the October meeting in person (if our risk assessment allows) and the February meeting by Zoom.

Weekly news

We asked for your thoughts about our weekly messages. 75% felt positive about these and 25% didn’t have a strong opinion (nobody expressed any negative views). Comments include ‘We find them very informative’ and ‘They are really good. Keeps us informed and are nice and light hearted.’ Based on this, we’ll continue to publish weekly news.

Learning workshops

We also asked for your views about the learning workshops. These are to help you support your child at home. Traditionally, we’ve held these in school and, generally speaking, the attendance has been quite low. Last year, we held a series of short presentations by Zoom instead. People who attended told us at the time they much preferred these. The St James’ survey of parents and carers was fairly inconclusive – about the same number of people said they were more likely to attend a Zoom session than those who said they were less likely. For us, the Zoom sessions were an efficient way to support parents across all three Sphere schools. We’ve planned in a series of Autumn Zoom workshops again this year – the first one (on phonics) starts on Monday 13 September at 6pm.

Homework

Our fourth question was perhaps the most important – homework. After the Spring lockdown, we suspended our Homework Policy that set out a Creative or a Practice Makes Perfect or a Talk Time homework each week. Instead, we’ve provided a Talk Time homework activity that should be accessible for all children in Years 1-6, and we’ve emphasised the importance of reading, learning spellings, and learning numbers facts and times tables (using NumBots and Times Tables Rock Stars, for example).

We asked you to consider a variety of statements about homework. Without exception, the statements that you agreed with the most are the same statements that support continuing with our current approach to homework:

Homework is always a problematic area. Some parents have previously told us they want more and an equal number have told us they want less. Research indicates that homework has limited impact on learning. We know that for some, homework can actually create a tension at home that doesn’t help anyone. At school, reviewing homework takes time. We’re increasingly convinced that the current approach is the best way forward. We can easily monitor how much children are learning number facts and times tables (we can do ‘mini-tests’, but can also check the data on NumBots and Rock Stars). For younger children, we can keep an eye on their Reading Record book. We need to explore how we can ensure older children regularly engage with reading, perhaps through a different Reading Record-style book. Based on the feedback, we’re going to continue with the revised provision: a Talk Time prompt each week and an emphasis on regular reading and learning spellings and number facts.

Other aspects of life at St James’ CE Primary School

The second part of the survey asked about aspects that we often include in the annual survey – statements that Ofsted also use when they seek the views of parents and carers. We presented you with four statements and invited one of three responses: ‘agree’, ‘disagree’ and ‘don’t know’. If we don’t count the one or two individuals who might have indicated they don’t know to the statements below, the proportions are:

Additional comments

Typically in any survey, there are more comments with suggestions or criticism than overall praise – think about the last time you filled in a survey for a hotel or product. However, about two thirds of respondents left additional comments and well over half of these were completely positive: ‘I still feel many years down the line that St James’ is a happy, productive school that tries to encourage every child in it’ and ‘I have been so impressed with the school since [my children] started in 2020. The staff are all welcoming, caring and really have my children’s best interests and progression at heart’ were typical comments – thank you!

We’ll review each suggestion carefully with a view to acting on as many as we realistically can.

 

This survey helps us to gain a broad overview of how we’re doing. (By the way, we also ask pupils similar questions!) For more specific questions, comments and concerns, it’s always best to speak with your child’s class teacher or Miss Beatson. Many thanks to those of you who completed the survey this year.