9 August 2021

Who on earth is Raphael? This year's schools survey gets off to a bungled false start

| Lottie Twyford
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ACT Minister for Education Yvette Berry at Evatt Primary School

The 2021 ACT School Satisfaction and Climate Survey kicked off with an IT bungle. Photo: Yvette Berry.

The annual ACT School Satisfaction and Climate Survey has kicked off this year with a bit of an IT blunder when parents received an erroneous email inviting them to give feedback about their child ‘Raphael’ and his school eight days before the real survey opened.

The other problem, these parents don’t have a child called Raphael.

A number of parents and carers around Canberra were left scratching their heads in confusion on the morning of Thursday, 5 August, upon receiving the email, and it led many to believe the emails were simply scams and should be deleted instantly.

One Facebook commenter said while they did follow the link provided, the survey itself had not loaded and the webpage had stopped working after they were asked to confirm their child’s name and school.

Others, after receiving the email, had written to their child’s school to seek confirmation as to whether or not the survey had been legitimate.

Screenshots of emails sent to parents about School Satisfaction and Climate Survey

The two emails received by some very confused parents on Thursday, 5 August. Images: Screenshots.

A later email from the same address apologised to parents for the accidental email, and said the message had been caused by “an action [having been] triggered in our survey software, which then emailed a proportion of the parents and carers contact list. The student name listed was a random name, not linked to any specific account.”

The email also said the action was triggered in error and should be ignored because the appropriate email will be shared on Friday, 13 August, when the survey actually opens.

The email also confirmed that no personal information had been shared with any third party.

A spokesperson for the ACT Education Directorate confirmed this information and said it was a software issue and that the email should be ignored.

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Some parents who received the second email said they had not been sent the first ‘Raphael’ one.

The annual voluntary survey, issued by the ACT Education Directorate, invites parents and carers as well as school staff and students in Year 4 to Year 12 to give feedback on various indicators used to measure satisfaction.

The data from the survey is used to inform responses about what schools do well, as well as what needs to be improved.

As well as measuring satisfaction, there’s a climate model that forms part of a study being conducted in partnership with researchers at the Australian National University.

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Accessible on any mobile device, the parent survey will require five to 10 minutes to complete, while the staff survey should take between 10 and 15 minutes. Students will complete the survey in-class.

Year 7 students will also be asked to complete a voluntary health survey, the ‘Year 7 Health Check’, for ACT Health. It’s noted these questions should take an additional five to 10 minutes to complete.

Responses can be submitted from Friday, 13 August, 2021, and will close on Friday, 3 September, 2021.

All genuine survey invitation emails will have the title ‘The 2021 School Satisfaction & Climate Survey is now open!’ and will be sent from EDU Surveys & Evaluation with a ‘from’ address of EDU@qualtrics-survey.com.

Read more about the 2021 ACT School Satisfaction and Climate Survey.

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Could have been worse – instead of a random name it could have been ‘your spoilt brat’. Something similar happened, in the UK in the early early 1990s, which became known as the“Dear Rich Bastard” gaffe. A small company was engaged to assist one of the largest UK telecom companies in launching a new ‘gold’ calling card, a project that included drawing information from a database in order to address and personalize letters to prospective customers. Obviously in the early development stages, they used a generic salutation, which would later be replaced with the genuine salutation from the database – except that last bit of coding was overlooked. Ooops.
AS Ian said, either an error in proofing or coding – but where was the final testing prior to production release?

I’ll offer them some free proofreading. Both the orginal email and the “oops” email refer to the 2020 survey rather than 2021 rather than 2021 as in the header.

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