This page includes information about:
the role of surveys in improving staff wellbeing
suggestions of what to include in a staff wellbeing survey
ideas about effective implementation of regular surveys.
Staff wellbeing is integral to promoting a whole-school or college approach to mental health and wellbeing.
In 2019, research by The Health and Safety Executive reported that teaching staff and education professionals had the highest rates of work-related stress, depression and anxiety in Britain.
Research has also found that teacher stress has an impact on children’s learning in primary schools.
The Department for Education Staff Wellbeing Charter (published 2021) emphasises the importance of routinely measuring the wellbeing of staff, enabling schools and colleges to effectively monitor changes in wellbeing levels and respond where necessary.
This reinforces the approach suggested in the Anna Freud Centre publication Ten Steps Towards School Staff Wellbeing (published 2018), which is based on a consultation of over 3,000 teachers and allied professionals. One of the steps recommended is for schools and colleges to monitor and measure staff wellbeing through an annual survey.
Why use a staff survey?
The simplest way to understand how people are feeling and what support they need is to ask. A confidential staff survey helps to measure and monitor progress and enables schools and colleges to focus on the tangible and practical actions they can take. Using an anonymous survey ensures staff feel able to respond honestly.
By consistently presenting the questions in the same way, change can be monitored when the survey is repeated - for example termly or annually. Additionally, if other schools and colleges are using the same survey, it is possible to make comparisons between settings.
Key things to consider when using a staff survey are to:
- use the survey repeatedly for monitoring and comparison
- make sure the questions are consistent
- make sure the survey is anonymous.
What to ask
A staff survey should include the following questions:
- How are school and college staff feeling?
- What is driving good and poor mental health (including asking staff how they feel about work practices, culture, engagement and management)?
- How supported do school and college staff feel?
- Do staff feel equipped to support children and young people with their mental health and wellbeing?
- Is there any additional support staff feel they need for their own mental health and wellbeing?
Planning a survey
Considering when and how the survey is conducted is really important. It is important that staff feel able to take the time to consider their responses.
We would recommend allocating time for staff to take part in the survey, such as during an Inset day or staff meeting. It is also helpful to avoid times of year when staff are particularly busy.
Thinking about how the survey is communicated to staff can help maximise engagement. Explaining how valuable the survey is, and how the results will be used, will provide motivation to take part.
Providing information about how confidentiality will be maintained can also be reassuring. Monitoring response rates and providing reminders can ensure as many staff as possible take part.
Responding to the results
Share the findings with all staff and governors, and discuss:
- what is going well and how can you ensure this continues?
- what needs to change to improve staff wellbeing?
- what steps could be taken to achieve this change?
- are there areas you need to explore further?
- how will you ensure change happens?
Allowing time for safe reflection and encouraging contributions from staff can help to identify both problems and solutions.
Consider how the findings can contribute to your school or college planning processes going forward.
Plan to monitor and evaluate any changes that result from the survey. Repeating the survey annually can also be a great way of seeing impact.
Conducting and using a staff survey
If you would like to conduct a staff wellbeing survey, you may want to consider using our Wellbeing Measurement for Schools Staff Survey. This survey was developed by the Child Outcomes Research Consortium (CORC) at the Anna Freud Centre, in consultation with school staff.
- draws on CORC’s significant experience across a range of research
- is designed to help schools and colleges understand the importance of staff wellbeing as part of a whole school or college approach to mental health and wellbeing
- has been tried and tested in a range of contexts including colleges, special schools and alternative provisions
- is available as a free downloadable PDF or can be provided as an online package along with analysis (at a reasonable cost to schools).
Wellbeing Measurement for Schools
This online staff survey uses validated tools to understand how staff are feeling. It asks questions about the ability and capacity of staff to support the children and young people in their setting, and explores aspects of school culture which may be affecting staff wellbeing.
Ten steps towards school staff wellbeing
This resource provides helpful guidance and encourages schools and colleges to reflect. Successfully promoting children’s mental health can only be achieved if schools and colleges give staff wellbeing the consideration it needs and deserves.
The Talking Toolkit: preventing health related stress in schools
This toolkit from HSE is designed to be used as a framework to help line managers have simple, practical conversations with school employees. The toolkit has six templates for different conversations, each with a different theme. It is designed to encourage discussions about issues that may be causing work-related stress, or about issues that could become future causes if not properly managed.
Teacher wellbeing at work in schools and further education providers
Ofsted has produced its own teacher wellbeing report which looks at how positive factors within school and college, such as culture and relationships with colleagues, contribute to teachers’ wellbeing. It also highlights negative factors, such as high workload, lack of work–life balance, concerns about resources and managing pupils’ behaviour.
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Find out more about our trainings for Schools and FE Colleges
Schools that successfully implemented the 5 Steps Framework
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