Perception research for schools and colleges

Restoring a reputation

Schools and colleges sometimes acquire a tarnished reputation which can contribute to falling admissions. Research with parents, pupils and local stakeholders can identify the factors behind a poor reputation and bring people together to agree a way forward.

Riverside Business and Enterprise College

Riverside College needed to understand why the volume of admissions had continued to decline for a number of years. There was a feeling that negative perceptions of the college and a lack of awareness of how it had changed were contributing to low admission levels.

Qa Research was sub-contracted by Tribal Education to conduct research with young people, parents and teaching staff from Riverside College, Nottingham, and young people and parents from the college’s feeder primary schools.

In total, 291 people participated in a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research involving focus groups, self-completion surveys and face-to-face interviews.

The nature of the focus group discussions meant they were a natural choice to test perceptions of the college and for involving young people. Qa moderators used Participatory Appraisal (PA) techniques which encouraged young people to really open up about their views providing significant insight into core perceptions of the college.

Recommendations for the future

The findings illustrated the scale of the problems facing Riverside but also revealed some new and surprising insights into the attitudes and opinions of local residents, pupils and stakeholders. The college is now using these findings to develop a plan for the future of Riverside College.

For more details e-mail paul.rhodes@qaresearch.co.uk or call 01904 632039