Step 2: Using the W@S tools to collect data

Key Points

  • Use the W@S tools together to build a picture of students’ and staff’s views of school practice
  • The W@S tools can be used to provide needs assessment and baseline data
  • Self-review and needs assessment data is best gathered from more than one source
  • This data can be used to start discussions and raise awareness about how different groups view your school
  • Develop a plan for how you will collect data over time.

Information for Step 2

Step 2 is about collecting data to assess the needs of your school community. During Step 2 schools use the W@S tools to collect data and start discussions.


What are the common reasons for using the W@S tools?

Once you have raised awareness about the need for a self-review process and assembled a self-review team, the next step is to consult widely with the different members of your school community as you collect data for a needs analysis. The W@S tools are designed to support schools to do this. Schools may use the W@S tools to:

  • consult with students and teachers and contribute to awareness raising about different stakeholders’ views of school life
  • provide data for a needs analysis that is used to develop an action plan
  • provide baseline data for monitoring over time
  • provide suggestions for ongoing improvement of school approaches
  • review progress in relation to school initiatives.

Assessing needs and raising awareness

When starting a self-review and needs analysis process, it is important to involve key stakeholders (see A whole-school approach to change using the Wellbeing@School tools [pdf]). The anonymous W@S surveys give students and staff a safe forum to share their views about school life. Results from student or staff surveys can be surprising as they can show differences in perceptions between teachers and school leaders, or between students and staff (e.g., it is common for students to report that aggressive behaviours are occurring more frequently than staff realise). Sharing and discussing these findings within a safe environment can raise awareness about different perspectives, develop a shared sense of ownership over school data, and act as a catalyst for change.

As well as identifying existing strengths at a school, W@S data can also be used to suggest the next steps that could be included in an action plan (see Using W@S reports and modules to develop an action plan: info for Step 3). Information can also be collected from the key stakeholders about their ideas for ways forward. Involving everybody in designing new approaches is one way of developing a shared sense of ownership over school activities.

What are the different W@S tools?

There are three W@S data collection tools. The tools are designed to support schools to self-review and collect data about the different ways a safe and caring climate that deters bullying is reflected in school life. It is intended that the tools are used together to build a picture of school practice from the perspectives of different stakeholders. Each tool is briefly described below:

Description of Wellbeing@School tools
Tool name Intended users of tool Main focus of tool
Student Survey

  1. Primary
  2. Intermediate/ Secondary

Primary form: for Year 5-8 students at contributing and full primary schools and junior students at area or composite schools. Depending on students’ literacy levels this form may also be appropriate for students at intermediate schools.

Intermediate/Secondary form: for Year 7-13 students at intermediate and secondary schools and senior students at area and composite schools.

To collect data on students’ perceptions of different aspects of school life and their experiences of prosocial and aggressive behaviours at school.
School Self Review Tool (SSRT) A review team of school leaders, teachers and other stakeholders (e.g., BoT representatives or senior students). To provide a process and a tool that supports a review team to reflect on different dimensions of school practice to identify strengths and possible next steps.
Teacher Survey All teaching staff. To provide data on teaching staff’s perspectives about different aspects of school life. This data is intended to support the review team to complete the SSRT.

Planning for the longer term

Managing change in a school is an ongoing process and it can take time to implement new approaches. It also takes time for any related changes to be clearly visible in survey data (often about 3-5 years). Therefore it is important to have this in mind when you start a self-review process. It is also important to clearly communicate the purposes for which you are collecting data and the likely timeframes to all the stakeholders who are involved.


When is the best time to use the tools?

The best time to use the W@S tools is mid-Term 2 (or mid-Term 3). By this time the school culture and any new focuses have been established for the year and students have settled into school and student peer groups have formed. We suggest that the tools are not used in Term 1, but they can be used at any other time. If you plan to repeat the surveys in later years, it is important to survey students at the same time each year.

Using the Student Survey

  • Which Student Survey should we use?
  • Should all students complete the Student Survey?
  • What do we do if we only have small numbers of students in each class?

Which Student Survey should we use?

The Primary Student Survey is designed for students in Years 5-8. The Intermediate and Secondary Student Survey is designed for students in Years 7-13. Intermediate, area, and composite schools will need to decide which survey to give to students in Years 7-8. This will depend on students’ literacy levels. The primary survey contains simpler language and is designed to be read aloud to students as they complete it. The Year 7-13 survey includes language and three extra questions (Numbers 2, 56, and 57) that are more appropriate for older age groups. W@S analyses show that the two survey forms are equivalent with students responding to the questions in similar ways.

Should all students complete the Student Survey?

At most schools we suggest that all students in the survey’s target year level range complete surveys. At very large schools, staff may want to select a sample of classes from different year levels. If a sample is selected, it is important to use the same selection criteria for follow up surveys in later years (e.g., every 3rd or 4th class could be selected across the school).

The Student Survey is not designed for Year 1-4 students, but some schools may wish to include Year 4 students. A decision will need to be made about students’ literacy levels and whether extra teacher support is needed. For ideas about including students with special learning needs in the W@S self-review, see Guidelines for consulting with students with special learning needs.

What do we do if we only have small numbers of students in each class?

To protect students' privacy and to ensure that the report data is meaningful, W@S reports are only produced for an entire school, a class or a sub-group of students (e.g., boys and girls) if there are 15 or more students in any one of these categories. If your school is very small or you have less than 15 students at each year level you will be able to access the School at a Glance report but not the Aspects at a Glance or Items at a Glance reports (see W@S reports). If your school has less than 15 students in total in Years 5-13, we suggest you give students a copy of the survey and use this as a starting point for discussions which can feed into a self-review process.

Using the SSRT and Teacher Survey

  • Who should complete the SSRT and Teacher Survey?
  • Consulting widely and collecting a range of data
  • Consulting in a range of ways with different stakeholders

Who should complete the SSRT and Teacher Survey?

The SSRT and Teacher Survey are intended to be used together as part of the self-review process. See the help guidelines for Co-ordinating the school-wide self-review process for ideas about forming a self-review team and working through the SSRT process. This process is designed to promote discussion and reflection.
Schools with more than 5 teaching staff can use the Teacher Survey. If your school has a smaller number of teaching staff we suggest that you complete the SSRT only or use the Teacher Survey as a resource for starting a self-review discussion. To ensure all staff are involved this could be done as a staff professional learning exercise.

Consulting widely and collecting a range of data

More than one method of data collection is necessary to gain a picture of school life. As well as the using the W@S tools you may wish to collect other information. Some common forms of data you could collect to inform the self-review process are discussed below.

Consulting in a range of ways with different stakeholders

To gain a picture of school life it is important to consult widely with key stakeholders. To supplement the data collected from the Student Survey you may wish to hold discussion groups with class groups or student leaders to hear their views. It is important that students with special learning needs are included in these processes.
See Guidelines for consulting with students with special education needs.

Another group whose views are important is parents and whanau. Each school has ways of consulting with parents and whanau that are appropriate for their school community. If your school commonly uses surveys to consult with parents and whanau, you could use some of the items in the Student Survey and SSRT to design a parent and whanau survey. Other methods of consultation could include:

  • inviting parent and whanau representatives on the school self-review team.
  • holding discussion groups at a time when many parents and whanau are likely to be at school such as during student learning or reporting conferences.
  • holding consultation hui at local marae, fono at local churches or community centres, or meetings at the home of parents and whanau

These consultations could focus on parent and whanau views about the “feel” or climate of the school, whether they feel the school is a safe place for their children, further ways your school could work to create a safe and caring climate, and ways the community and school could work together to support each other.

Collecting other data

As well as the using the W@S tools you may wish to look at what the information from other school data sources can tell you. Data patterns that are associated with positive perceptions of school climate include:

  • Higher levels of student engagement and achievement: Engagement Surveys can be used to track students’ engagement in learning (e.g., Me and My School) and school data can be used to look for patterns in achievement data over time.
  • Lower levels of behaviour incidents: Behaviour Incident data from Duty Teacher Incident records or Behaviour Incident records can be used as baseline data that can be tracked over time. Similarly referral, stand-down, suspension, expulsion, or exclusion data can also be tracked. To ensure that this data is in a form that can be compared over time, details such as the nature of each incident, who was involved, the location, and how it was resolved could be recorded.
  • Higher levels of attendance and retention: Patterns in attendance and retention data can be tracked over time (for both students and staff).

When collecting data about the frequency of aggressive and bullying behaviours (which is one focus of the W@S surveys), schools sometimes ask staff and students to nominate “bullies” and “victims” who are then referred for further support. Be aware that this is viewed as problematic by some researchers as it requires staff and students to “label” others. It also does not address the fact that research shows that many students “grow out” of bullying behaviour or step in and out of different roles over time, or that bullying behaviour is a systemic issue (rather than an individual behaviour) that is influenced by many different aspects of school life.

What next?

Once you have decided the purpose of your school self-review, and who will complete the W@S tools, you can log into the school Survey administration area, create the surveys and administer the Student Surveys, Teacher Survey and  SSRT (see Using the W@S survey tools).

You can choose to use the hardcopy version of the Student Survey or activate the online Student Survey (at a cost of $1 per student). The SSRT and Teacher Survey are available online free of charge.
Guidelines for using the W@S tools and managing your data are included in the online help files. Once you archive your surveys W@S data reports will be automatically available for your school.

Guidelines for interpreting your school data can be found in Interpreting the W@S reports (info for Step 3).