29 Jan 2019

New feature: option for staff to include freetext comments at the end of the survey

Useful new feature released this morning. You now have the option to allow staff to type freetext comments at the end of the survey. Just check the box on the survey details page:


Staff will then see a box for their comments at the end of the survey:



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Want to try out School Staff Surveys for yourself? Sign up for a free trial account here.

14 Sep 2018

What the September 2018 Ofsted handbook says about staff surveys

Ofsted have released a new school inspection handbook:




As with previous versions, Ofsted again emphasise that "Inspectors will always report on the school's activity to survey staff":

And the importance of regular surveys gets a shout-out in paragraph 86 as well:




If you want an easy way to run regular staff engagement surveys in your school, try www.schoolstaffsurveys.com today.



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About the author: Bruce Greig is an entrepreneur and has been a school governor since 2011. He served as Chair of Governors through two Ofsted inspections and four headteachers. He set up SchoolStaffSurveys.com after discovering how enlightening an anonymous staff survey can be and decided to make it easy for every school to run them.

30 Jan 2018

Why you shouldn't use the Ofsted staff questionnaire in between inspections

Ofsted have recently updated the Ofsted staff questionnaire which they use during an inspection. You may be familiar with the previous version which we have covered on this blog before.

The newer questionnaire is longer and now covers these questions:

  1. Were you working at this school when it was last inspected?
  2. Do you think this school has improved since it was last inspected?
  3. I am proud to be a member of staff at this school
  4. Pupils are safe at this school
  5. Staff consistently manage the behaviour of pupils well
  6. Pupils behaviour is at least good at this school
  7. Leaders support staff well in managing behaviour
  8. The school deals with any cases of bullying of pupils effectively
  9. Leaders use professional development to encourage, challenge and support teachers’ improvement
  10. Leaders do all they can to ensure the school has a motivated, respected and effective teaching staff
  11. Leaders have created a climate in which teachers are trusted to take risks and innovate in ways that are right for the pupils
  12. This school has a culture that encourages calm and orderly conduct and is aspirational for all pupils
  13. The school challenges all pupils to make at least good progress
  14. This school is well led and managed
  15. Leaders and managers take workload into account when developing and implementing policies and procedures so as to avoid placing unnecessary burdens on staff.
  16. I feel well supported working in this school
  17. All staff are treated fairly and with respect at this school
  18. Leaders and managers are considerate of my well-being
  19. I enjoy working at this school
This will definitely give you, and the inspector, more insight into how the school is run.  For example, the question "Leaders use professional development to encourage, challenge and support teachers’ improvement" used to be simply "The school makes appropriate provision for my professional development".

And "Leaders do all they can to ensure the school has a motivated, respected and effective teaching staff" is an entirely new question, as are some of the others.

Should you use this questionnaire in between inspections to help you lead your school? It would certainly be helpful and might tease out some feedback which you wouldn't necessarily hear face-to-face from staff.

But you might find it is not detailed enough to help you address any areas which you'd like to improve.

For example, if you get a lot of negative responses to the "Leaders do all they can to ensure the school has a motivated, respected and effective teaching staff" question, what does that tell you? Why do some staff feel that you aren't doing a great job there? Because they are demotivated? Or they feel not respected? Or they know that a colleague is not very effective and you haven't done anything about it? (That last one definitely won't be aired in a staff meeting).

The Ofsted questions are for the inspector: they want to know if everything is going well or not. They are less concerned with exactly what you need to do to address something that isn't going well. That's your job.

So you might consider using a more detailed questionnaire as your annual, or termly, tool to keep tabs on what your staff are thinking (alongside, of course, your regular day-to-day contact with all of them). We like the questions used by the UK Civil Service: they are very detailed, but not too onerous. They are tried and tested throughout all branches of the Civil Service from the DVLA to the Cabinet Office.

SchoolStaffSurveys.com is a simple online tool to allow you to get your own answers to the UK Civil Service People Survey questions from all your staff. Staff can answer the questions on their phone, tablet or computer. You'll see the results in a page of tidy graphs. Try it all out for yourself for free before you pay any money: www.schoolstaffsurveys.com


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About the author: Bruce Greig is an entrepreneur and has been a school governor since 2011. He served as Chair of Governors through two Ofsted inspections and four headteachers. He set up SchoolStaffSurveys.com after discovering how enlightening an anonymous staff survey can be and decided to make it easy for every school to run them.

27 Nov 2017

2017 Ofsted Inspection Handbook still expects schools to survey their staff regularly

As it did with the previous inspection handbook, Ofsted makes clear that it values the information from regular staff surveys and will always report on the schools efforts in this area:



(Para 151 of the October 2017 edition of the School inspection handbook).

My website, SchoolStaffSurveys.com, is one of several ways you can run a comprehensive staff engagement survey for your teachers. It isn't free (try Google Forms or SurveyMonkey for a free version), but it requires almost no configuration or setup on your part, and is really simple for your teachers to complete. And you get some nice graphs to show your governors.


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About the author: Bruce Greig is an entrepreneur and has been a school governor since 2011. He served as Chair of Governors through two Ofsted inspections and four headteachers. He set up SchoolStaffSurveys.com after discovering how enlightening an anonymous staff survey can be and decided to make it easy for every school to run them.

16 Nov 2017

School Staff Surveys is live - a simple cost-effective way to run staff engagement surveys in UK schools

School Staff Surveys is live - a simple cost-effective way to run staff engagement surveys in UK schools.

School Staff Surveys website screenshot

SchoolStaffSurveys.com uses the world-renowned questions from the UK Civil Service People Survey in an easy-to-use website which you, as a headteacher or other school leader, can use to survey your staff.

Try it for free today: www.schoolstaffsurveys.com





About the author: Bruce Greig is an entrepreneur and has been a school governor since 2011. He served as Chair of Governors through two Ofsted inspections and four headteachers. He set up SchoolStaffSurveys.com after discovering how enlightening an anonymous staff survey can be and decided to make it easy for every school to run them.

5 Apr 2017

UK Civil Service People Survey vs Ofsted Staff Questionnaire

Ofsted inspectors issue a 12-point questionnaire for staff to complete online during an inspection. Should school leaders use these questions between inspections to understand how their staff feel?

Maybe.

The Ofsted inspection questions for staff do a good job of telling the inspector what staff think at that point in time, with enough detail to satisfy the requirements of an inspection crammed chock full with evidence and paperwork.

But they aren’t really detailed enough to help school leaders understand what’s really working well, and what needs to change. If you are willing to invest a little more time and effort, you can get a lot more out of a more detailed questions.


These are the Ofsted questions are (all answered with Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree):


  1. I am proud to be a member of staff at this school
  2. My contribution to the school is valued
  3. I know what we are trying to achieve as a school
  4. I am involved in what the school is trying to achieve
  5. I contribute to the school’s process of self-evaluation
  6. The school makes appropriate provision for my professional development
  7. The school is well led
  8. Governors do an effective job in this school
  9. The school runs smoothly on a daily basis
  10. Children are safe in this school
  11. Any unacceptable behaviour by pupils is consistently well managed
  12. The school successfully meets the differing needs of individual pupils

A more thorough alternative is the UK Civil Service People Survey. This has been used for years in across all branches of the Civil Service. It is relied on by leaders at all levels in the Civil Service to understand how their staff feel about their jobs. You can use it in your school to get the same sort of professional, in-depth understanding that Civil Service leaders have.

It has many more nuanced questions than the Ofsted one. It covers everything in the Ofsted questionnaire, but in much more detail.

For example, if staff respond neutrally to the statement “The school is well led” in the Ofsted Survey, what does that tell you? Nothing you can really act on.

But the Civil Service People Survey asks whether leaders are good at motivating their staff, giving clear feedback, managing poor performance in others, and so on:


sample from UK Civil Service People survey


So you can see where, exactly, your leadership needs improving, and where you are doing well (in the eyes of your staff, at least).

You can copy-paste the questions into a free survey tool like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms, or try my ready-made version (free trial, then £50 per survey) here at SchoolStaffSurveys.com





About the author: Bruce Greig is an entrepreneur and has been a school governor since 2011. He served as Chair of Governors through two Ofsted inspections and four headteachers. He set up SchoolStaffSurveys.com after discovering how enlightening an anonymous staff survey can be and decided to make it easy for every school to run them.

28 Mar 2017

Some examples of Good and Outstanding schools using staff surveys

Here are a couple of recent Ofsted reports on Good and Outstanding schools, where the inspectors have commented on the school's use of surveys to get feedback from their staff (and parents and pupils):

St Bede's Catholic Comprehensive School uses staff questionnaires to find out what their staff think:





At Wallington County Grammar School, an Outstanding school, the Ofsted inspectors commented about how leaders listen to views of staff (and parents and pupils), and welcome feedback. One easy and effective way to solicit feedback from staff is by using a regular, anonymous online survey.




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About the author: Bruce Greig is an entrepreneur and has been a school governor since 2011. He served as Chair of Governors through two Ofsted inspections and four headteachers. He set up SchoolStaffSurveys.com after discovering how enlightening an anonymous staff survey can be and decided to make it easy for every school to run them.