At Edurio, we work with school and trust leaders around the country to improve the experience for staff, pupils and parents. At the heart of our work is a belief that by understanding your current situation, in context, you can see where you need to go next to improve outcomes for all associated with your organisation. This post forms a part of our Pupil Learning Experience and Wellbeing series, and here we will focus on how to use surveys to drive improvements in pupil wellbeing.
What Did We Learn about Pupil Wellbeing from Our Pupil Experience Survey?
For the past year, we have been running our Pupil Learning Experience and Wellbeing Survey, and in November we launched our first report, looking at the wellbeing of pupils in England. The report summarises pupil experiences from 45,000+ students across 165 schools between May and July in 2021 and focussed on:
- Overall wellbeing
- Stress, workload and sleep quality
- Loneliness and support networks
Our results reflected other industry findings, such as The Big Ask (launched by the Children’s Commissioner), which found that 20% of pupils were not happy with their mental health.
When we asked our respondents “Overall, how do you feel lately?” fewer than half of students (47%) reported that they have been feeling well, with 23% of pupils saying overall they have not felt very well or not felt well at all.
Stress and overworking were affecting a large proportion of the pupils, with 46% reporting feeling stressed lately, and 43% feeling overworked. On top of this, three in ten pupils reported sleeping badly lately.
Alarmingly, we found that 27% of pupils had been feeling lonely As Daniel Muijs pointed out in the report, this was a significant increase since before the pandemic, with a 2018 ONS study finding that only 11% of 10-15 year olds stated they were often lonely, a significantly lower proportion than in our survey. Charlie Venter of the Kingston Academy, who took part in our research, discussed the issue of loneliness and how that was reflected in her own school.
What Can You Learn about Pupil Wellbeing from a Pupil Experience Survey?
Pupil wellbeing is a complex and multifaceted issue and needs a complex and multifaceted approach, and a survey is usually one part of a larger pupil wellbeing strategy. Schools that choose to participate in our survey often do so to get a picture of the entire pupil experience and the entire spectrum of pupils in their school. However, this is not without its challenges, but done well, it can enable leaders to identify issues they may not have seen in areas they may not have seen. Here are some of the steps we’ve taken at Edurio to help school and trust leaders improve the wellbeing of pupils in their organisation.
Creating a survey for pupils can be harder than surveys for any other school stakeholder group. Pupils are the group with perhaps the widest-ranging levels of comprehension; we’re talking to 5-year olds and 18-year olds, children with special educational needs, etc. As such, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, so it’s important we strike a balance between getting as much information as possible and ensuring pupils can answer the questions we’re asking.
Therefore, it’s helpful to think about the pupils' abilities in your school and tailor the survey to work best for them. In some cases, pupils in year 5 or 6 may be able to answer questions that would not be possible for other pupils in year 8, whether due to reading ability or their understanding of complex concepts such as how valued they feel or how well they are able to build on existing knowledge.
Carefully Asked Questions
By thinking carefully about this at the outset, we are able to choose both the type and number of questions that we ask. For older pupils, it’s possible that we can ask them about the entire learning experience. In contrast to, for younger pupils or pupils with special educational needs or disability, it may be necessary to prioritise the most important topics for your school or for particular year groups. Ensuring the question is asked as clearly and simply as possible is vital in enabling pupils to answer to the best of their abilities.
Contextualised Survey Results
Results to a single question alone do not tell us much - it’s only when these results are analysed in context that you begin to understand the full picture. To understand your results in context, it’s worth looking at the results of each question across a wider set of topics or comparing results against a comparable group such as other years within the school, other schools, or the same cohort at a different point in time. Our survey is nationally benchmarked, so schools can understand how their pupils are doing and how that compares to pupils in schools like theirs across the country. They can also track progress over time by repeating the survey over multiple years, identifying issues to focus on and then assessing how their actions have improved pupils’ outcome.
Using an Edurio Survey to Improve your Pupil Wellbeing
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