Headteacher wants students to be seen as customers

17th Aug 2017

A school in Darlington is using reports from pupils to give feedback to teachers, encouraging them to act as “secret shoppers”.

Longfield Academy is advising teachers to “build on positives and address customer dissatisfaction”.

Headteacher Susan Johnson told teaching resources website Tes: “Secret shopper is part of a wider whole-school strategy that aims to celebrate success and promote sharing of good practice.

“We are acutely aware that the pupils are our customers, and gathering pupil voice has always been important to us.”

A presentation given to teachers informed them that students chosen to act as the shoppers would be briefed early in a half term before passing feedback to the School Leadership Team in the penultimate week of term. This will then be passed to teachers in the last week of term, which the school have dubbed “Customer Service Week”.

Some teachers have voiced concern about the plans, raising concerns that it could diminish their authority.

However, the perception of students as consumers could be on the rise – particularly in higher education. Dr Markos Koumaditis of London South Bank University spoke to The Institute of Customer Service for Customer Focus Magazine earlier this year. 

He explained that there is increased pressure on universities to deliver higher quality customer service. 

“The attitude among students has changed. They do see themselves more as consumers than before. They are more demanding,” Koumaditis says.

“We have had to ask ourselves what we can do to become better, to be faster, while at the same time not compromising the quality of service that we provide.

“So across everything – Catering, Accommodation, Student Life Centre, the Library and Learning Resource Centre – we have to ask how it can become better, faster, and more technologically driven,” he says.

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