Staff Surveys – the 5 ‘golden rules’

Staff Surveys – the 5 ‘golden rules’

Here, at the NAHT, we often get asked if it’s a good idea to survey staff. Well-executed, staff surveys can be revealing, insightful and produce many positive outcomes for the school and for those who work in it – there are some ‘golden rules’ to follow however.

Purpose – it’s always good practice and prudent to set out the purpose of the staff survey – e.g. is it simply to engage staff; to ask for their feedback; to help shape the school’s strategy; to support school policy making; to inform decision making; to provide evidence for Ofsted inspectors; to help with parental engagement; to identify gaps in the school development or  improvement plan – you will, of course, be able to conjure up others.

Timing – this is key to getting it right – asking staff at the end of a term may not be very productive – everyone will be looking forward to a break and won’t connect with the survey as much as you might have expected – why not make the survey part of an INSET day?

Staff feedback – ask for authentic and honest feedback from staff – authentic feedback is likely to produce helpful outcomes and don’t be surprised if some of the feedback is less than positive – negative feedback may be perfectly legitimate and indicate wider issues for the school, especially if the issues to which it relates reach sensible numbers – try to avoid judging the responses – you can , of course, anonymise surveys to support this approach.

Action – when the results are in, it’s good practice to collate it in such a way that you can summarise the issues back to staff. It’s also best to manage everyone’s expectations, so make it clear that actions will probably fall into one of three categories: actions that can be carried out in the current academic year; activities that will be carried forward into the next academic year; and activities that are unlikely to be carried out as they are simply not practicable or they need further exploration and advice before being progressed.

Repeat – one-off surveys may have some value but they won’t have as much value as surveys that are carried out at agreed intervals, say once or twice a year – the results of subsequent surveys can then be measured against previous results and progress and achievement can be tracked in much the same way you would track pupil progress.