LEARNING FRONTIERS Interpreting and acting on your survey results A process facilitation tool Why a process tool? Along with this tool you will have received the results from your school and/or your design hub’s engagement survey. Our guess is this won’t be the only data set you’ll receive in school this month. Or even this week. The challenge with data like these is not to make them interesting – all data are interesting up to a point. The challenge is to make them useful - to make it possible, imperative even, for data to be shared, argued over and interpreted and turned into ideas and actions that affect the way we think and behave. Overview This tool sets out a simple process which invites people to interrogate their engagement data from their own perspectives and experiences. Working together, small groups identify key insights from the survey results that they consider are worth exploring through discussion and further investigation. After a short and agreed period of time, groups report on their investigations to a wider audience, ideally the whole staff, and make recommendations that arise from their findings. The whole process should ideally be completed within six to eight weeks – or half a semester. RULES Much of the process that follows can be adapted to suit your context. But there are two non negotiable rules: Rule 1: There must be groups of students as well as groups of teachers invited to take part. Student groups should be discrete, but supported by adults to help them gain the access they need to carry out their investigation. Rule 2: There must be visible support and commitment from a recognisable leadership team (e.g. school senior team), represented by a powerful named individual to take responsibility for the process. The process in stages Stage 1 Interpretation workshop 1a. Individuals complete the survey as a student they know or teach 1b. Compare responses in pairs and take a guess at what might be in the data 1c. Review the data in groups of 4 – 6 to see how accurate their guesses were Stage 3 Stage 2 What else are these data telling us? Each group identifies 3 positive findings and 6 areas for improvement. Then choose from among the areas for improvement, one issue for further investigation. Adult Investigation groups 1.Find out more 2. Design a strategy Student investigation groups 1. Find out more 2. Design a strategy Secure leadership team support for findings and strategies Investigation and leadership teams together present findings and strategies to the whole school Stage 1 Interpretation Workshop(s) Stage 1 sets out a suggested workshop plan, which could be completed in 1.5 to 2 hours. Ideally the workshop would be run as a whole school, with some groups of students in the room too. If that’s too difficult to organise then a mixed group (teachers/students from different subjects or year groups) would be great. If your school is very busy then co-opting existing departmental meetings could work too. Remember, however you do this, there must be an explicit leadership presence in each workshop and an opportunity for students to engage too. After all – these are their data. ? Stage 2 Investigation teams find out more In stage 1, groups are formed around a question or idea that arises for them out of the engagement data set. In stage 2, these groups are supported to conduct a short investigation to help them learn more about and explain the finding that caught their attention. They may decide to interview some students and teachers; observe some classes; run focus or discussion groups; meet parents; take a look at what's happening in other schools; or search for research that helps them work out what’s behind the issue. It’s a good idea to set a time limit for this stage – say 3 weeks. This process works best when activity is focused and intensive. The investigation is complete when the group is confident that they understand their chosen issue in sufficient depth and detail to be able to do something about it. Stage 2 Investigation teams design a strategy Having learned more about their chosen issue, groups are next supported to design a strategy for tackling it. This is true for the student groups as well as the adults. Groups are invited to prepare a presentation to senior leaders which summarises the findings of their investigation and sets out some ideas and recommendations, supported by the evidence they gathered e.g. from other schools or from research. If there’s time, groups ideally ‘rehearse’ their presentations with one another first. This means they can draw on critical friendship in a kind of peer review process and they can spot early any similarities or conflicts in their recommendations, to which they can refer or resolve through collaboration. This is a critical moment for the person appointed to lead this process. Groups should be encouraged to be bold and ambitious; at the same time any constraints (real ones only) must be made known to them, so they can choose to work within these – or challenge them. Stage 3 Secure leadership support In a closed meeting, investigation groups present to the leadership team their findings, ideas and recommendations. Members of the leadership team are invited to question the presenters, to interrogate their evidence and to present alternative interpretations, where they have a different view. The aim of this discussion is to arrive at a joint strategy for acting on the ideas and recommendations presented. Groups are securing leadership support and the resources that come with that, and negotiating for the opportunity to test their ideas with the wider staff, students and parents. Leaders are contributing in ways that might make ideas more attractive, affordable, workable etc. etc. By the end of the meeting each group should have an outline strategy, resourced and supported by one or more leaders to present to their colleagues; both staff and students. Stage 3 Whole school meeting In this final stage of the process, investigating groups and the leadership team together present their strategies to a wider group of staff and students. Ideally in the case of staff this would be a whole school meeting. Short presentations from each group summarising their findings, their rationale and their strategy are followed by discussion groups with staff and students. There are several ways to organise this meeting depending on how many investigation groups are presenting. One might be for staff to hear all the presentations and then choose a group to join for a deeper discussion. Another might be to send out a summary of each group’s strategy as pre reading and then run elective groups from the outset. The aim is to create an opportunity for a wider group to engage with the process of implementation, which might involve some experiments and pilots, and might even give rise to some new investigations….. The leadership role Critical to the success of this process is the leadership provided by one key individual, mandated by the leadership team to ‘make it happen’. Investigation teams, both staff and student varieties, will need: confidence that they have leadership support; access to resources and to people; help with setting up meetings; and time and space to meet. They may also need: facilitation of their meetings, especially at the beginning; ‘ground clearing’ if their ideas start to bump up against ‘how we do things here’ barriers; a heads up on any real constraints – financial or legal for instance; and management of any negative forces in the staff room or leadership team. Put simply this role requires someone with ambition, imagination and energy and a positive disposition to change; someone open to being surprised and delighted by new ideas from unexpected sources and inspired by the prospect of broad engagement and action by staff and students alike.