Using pupil surveys as part of the evidence base for teacher apprasial

Teachers ranked highly in pupil surveys have consistently been those who achieve the best grades from their pupils. This is the conclusion of an MET (2012) study using Cambridge Education’s Tripod Project survey questions referred to as the 7Cs.

  •  Caring about students – “The teacher in this class encourages me to do my best.”
  •  Captivating students – “This class keeps my attention – I don’t get bored.”
  •  Conferring with students – “My teacher gives us time to explain our ideas.”
  •  Controlling behaviour – “Our class stays busy and doesn’t waste time.”
  •  Clarifying lessons – “When I am confused, my teacher knows how to help me understand.”
  •  Challenging students – “My teacher wants us to use our thinking skills, not just memorize things.”
  •  Consolidating knowledge – “My teacher takes the time to summarize what we learn each day.”

In Murphy’s work for the Sutton Trust he concludes that : “The most beneficial aspect of pupil surveys is that they can be used as an additional piece of evidence for line managers or teachers in the end of-year appraisal process. As we have seen, test scores and classroom observations are a ‘noisy’ 23 measure of teacher ability. If pupils performed poorly on test day, or an observed class did not go to plan, pupil surveys can help to assess the extent to which teaching throughout the year was consistent with previous years, and may suggest that the other measure was just an outlier. Given the unpredictable nature of education, all pieces of information are useful in reducing this noise and obtaining estimates closer to the truth.”

Our experience is that few schools use pupil surveys in the appraisal process but they have been shown to be a significant part of the evidence base and in some studies more reliable than lesson observations.  Perhaps one way to introduce their use to teachers and schools is to allow for teachers to conduct private surveys with their classes which are not shared with their peers or line managers enabling them to use them in a low stakes way for developmental purposes rather than judgmental ones.