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


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.

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