It's interesting to see news today that Ofsted are to launch a new website where parents can rate the school their child attends. The site, called Parent View, offers a 12-question survey covering issues such as bullying and behaviour.
"Parents know how valuable the insight of other mums and dads can be when making choices about schools," said Ofsted chair, Baroness Morgan.
All of which sounds great. Obtaining feedback from people that use a service is very important. The NHS have a similar service whereby you can review the service you received during a trip to a hospital.
Here is my beef with such ideas though. If they are to be useful then the feedback offered has to be acted upon. A study recently investigated the consequences of inviting feedback and then ignoring it.
The study revealed that as soon as employees suspected their managers of ignoring their ideas, they stopped offering them up. This phenomenon was termed giving employees a pseudo voice.
The consequences of this action were unearthed in a second analysis. This found that when employees were discouraged from voicing their opinions, conflicts went unresolved, with anti-social behaviour increasing as a result. This includes things such as not participating in meetings, starting arguments and bossing colleagues around. Frustrations at their lack of voice were literally taken out on colleagues.
By contrast, if employees were listened to, they then spoke up more often, got on better with colleagues and general organisational performance improved. So the benefits of offering employees a voice appear clear. Beware of the boy that cried wolf however. The authors caution that if you attempt to trick people into believing they have a voice, future attempts to engage with employees will flounder on this inherent lack of trust.
Sadly my personal experience of the NHS service is that it seldom seems to be acting on the feedback given. The comments (complaints) I made to Mayday Hospital were responded to with a cookie cutter "thank you for your feedback and sorry for your bad experience, please contact our PAL team on xxxx to persue this". For me if people are saying your service is not good enough the onus is on you to rectify the situation, not the complainant to follow things up.
So if Ofsted read this (sure they're avid followers), by all means offer means of gaining feedback from parents, but don't ignore the feedback when it arrives.