Kirkland Rowell Surveys have empowered our school community by providing an insight into the issues of importance to our stakeholders and offering a useful comparison with other schools in Scotland.John Ziltener, Depute Head Teacher at Portobello High School, Edinburgh
John Ziltener, Depute Head Teacher at Portobello High School, Edinburgh, explains how stakeholder surveys for parents, students and staff have provided a positive way of engaging all stakeholders in delivering the school’s ambitious improvement plan to become an extraordinary school within three years.
Serving a diverse community of 1,400 students, Portobello High School is the largest comprehensive school in Edinburgh. Following the appointment of a new Headteacher and two Depute Headteachers, we are reflecting on how well we meet the needs of young people and have established an ambitious improvement plan to become an extraordinary school within three years.
With such a large community of learners, we need to capture everyone’s views to identify good practice and engage all stakeholders in shaping the school’s future. Although our own self-evaluation activities gathered feedback from the community, we wanted to carry out a more comprehensive survey to make sure that everyone’s voice was heard. With this in mind, we chose to use Kirkland Rowell Surveys in March 2017.
The team from GL Assessment was very helpful. They visited the school to explain how Kirkland Rowell Surveys work and offered tips and advice on devising our own questions and distributing the surveys to achieve the highest return rate. The opportunity to tailor questions to our own school meant that we could follow up lines of enquiry identified through our own initial research, to support school improvement planning.
With a high return rate, Kirkland Rowell has given us a much deeper understanding of a range of issues that are important to our staff, learners and their families. The opportunity to compare the findings at a glance through the ‘Combined Executive Report’ has allowed us to see where stakeholders share a similar view and where there are differences of opinion. It has been particularly useful to compare our professional view of the school with the lived experiences of young people and to consider where small changes could make a positive difference to our learners.
Shortly after completing our Kirkland Rowell Surveys we learnt that the school would be inspected by HMIe. The team at GL Assessment was very supportive and expedited the process of preparing the reports to inform our self-evaluation. This meant we had a good knowledge of the school’s strengths and areas for development and could speak confidently about our next steps.
Kirkland Rowell has empowered our school community by providing an insight into the issues of importance to our stakeholders and offering a useful comparison with other schools in Scotland. We look forward to maintaining a partnership with GL Assessment and plan to use Kirkland Rowell Surveys at regular intervals in the future to evidence our progress over time.