2012 Client Satisfaction Survey

Publication Details

This report presents findings from the Special Education Services 2012 Client Satisfaction Survey.

Author(s): Luke Smith, Megan Lee, Carin Sundstedt, Research Division, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: February 2013

Executive Summary

The Ministry of Education carries out an annual client satisfaction survey (CSS) of parents and educators as part of its commitment to continually improve special education (SE) services.

Parents and educators are surveyed about the Ministry of Education special education core services. In 2012 Special Education was integrated into the Regional Operations Group, but for the purpose of this report we will refer to SE and SE staff.

Thank you for an excellent service which enables our daughter to participate fully in education.[Parent feedback]

I am extremely happy with the service we are given by our local team. I find them very professional, very helpful and genuinely concerned about our students. I thank them sincerely for this.[Educator feedback]


This report draws on analysis of quantitative data from the CSS combined with a thematic summary of qualitative data from an open-ended question included at the end of the survey.

A total of 790 surveys from parents and 1,588 surveys from educators were received.  The returned surveys gave a response rate of 24% for parents and 50% for educators.  As these response rates are relatively low, particularly for response from parents, the data presented in the report should be treated as indicative rather than robust.  The qualitative analysis presented in the report was based on 430 comments from parents and 582 comments from educators. 

Key findings

Parents and educators are satisfied with the overall quality of service provided by Special Education

Just over three-quarters of parents (78%) were satisfied with the overall quality of service SE provided to their child.  As a group, educators were less satisfied than parents; however two-thirds of educators (63%) still indicated that they were satisfied with the service provided by SE.  Approximately one-in-seven educators (14%) and one-in-twelve parents (8%) were dissatisfied with SE service provision.

Parents and educators were more satisfied with early intervention and communication services than behaviour or ORS/complex needs services.  These differences were slight however. 

Parents and educators view the competence of, and fair treatment provided by, SE staff as strengths of the service

The survey asked respondents about a range of factors designed to assess the quality of SE service provision.

The two aspects of service delivery that parents and educators were mostsatisfied with were:

  • I was treated fairly (87% of parents, 78% of educators agreed)
  • Staff were competent (84% of parents, 74% of educators agreed)

This indicates strongly that parents and educators alike, view the professionalism and experience of SE staff as strengths of the service. 

These strengths of SE staff were also noted in the comments made by parents and educators at the end of the survey.

"It is a pleasure to work with [team]. They are friendly, knowledgeable, highly professional, innovative and supportive. They respond to requests promptly and provide highly valued teaching and learning advice and resources".[Educator feedback]

Parents and educators view the time it takes to access SE services as the area most in need of improvement

The aspect of service delivery that parents and educators were least satisfied with was:

  • Overall, how satisfied were you with the amount of time it took to get the service? (59% of parents, 54% of educators were satisfied)

As shown in responses to the open-ended question, the timeliness of SE service provision was the only major concern for many parents and educators.  Concerns about the timeliness of service provision were related to a broader concern that 'things can get worse' while learners are on the waiting list.  Parents and educators also find that gaining access to SE services can be 'frustrating' and believe that learners who would benefit from the services are 'missing out'.

Satisfaction with SE service provision has remained stable for parents and educators over the past two years

For both parents and educators, overall levels of satisfaction with SE service provision were similar in 2012 to those reported in 2011.  The aspects of service delivery that parents and educators were the most and least satisfied with also remained consistent across the past two years.  In both 2011 and 2012, parents and educators were most satisfied with the competence and fairness of SE staff and were least satisfied with the amount of time it took to receive the SE service. 

Parents of Māori and Pasifika learners were just as satisfied with SE service provision as parents of New Zealand European learners. 

Overall, parents of Māori learners and parents of Pasifika learners were satisfied with the overall service provided by SE (82% and 83% respectively).  Most parents of Māori and Pasifika learners also felt that the cultural needs of their family were well considered (85% and 86% respectively). These figures are higher, but not statistically different, than for parents of non-Māori learners (76% and 83% respectively).

Educators reported higher levels of satisfaction with the overall service, and various aspects of service delivery (e.g. staff competence, good value for money) for Pasifika learners relative to the service delivered to students of other ethnicities.

Findings indicate that SE service delivery is closely aligned with the majority of the values in the service promise.

Linkages were made between items from the survey and each of the five components of the SE service promise.  Parents' and educators' responses to these items indicated that SE service delivery is closely aligned with the majority of these values. Consistent with some of the challenges associated with timeliness of SE service delivery identified by parents and educators, the Service Promise 'we will do what we say we will do in a timely manner' was an area identified as needing improvement.

Next steps: 2013 Client Satisfaction Survey

Each year, changes to the CSS have improved the quality of data and enabled a clearer national picture to emerge. In 2012, changes to sampling procedures increased response rates and ensured findings from the CSS were accurate reflections of all SE service users. During the first half of 2013 the Regional Operations Service Delivery team will review the questions in the CSS and how the survey is carried out. The review will also take into account any service changes made as part of the Regional Operations change programme. The Research Division will provide input into this review process.

Contact Us

Education Data Requests
If you have any questions about education data then please contact us at:
Email:      Requests EDK
Phone:    +64 4 463 8065