Keeping one’s finger on the pulse

Keeping one’s finger on the pulse of organisational culture

Culture is the most powerful source of leverage for bringing about change in a school or any organization, for that matter.

It is that time of year when it is important to check the pulse of the school.

Is everyone feeling safe?
Is everyone feeling happy?
Is there a good sense of connection?

It is a bold move by any school leadership team to frequently gather this data, but it is also the only way to stay attuned to the school climate and to keep improving.
Firstly, Year 8 students could carry out a student pulse survey like a learning walk and survey a random sample of students across the school asking:

Student Led Learning Walk Data & Analysis


  • Do you feel safe in the playground?
  • When you are feeling lonely what do you do?
  • Do you mostly feel happy when you are with your friends?
  • If you have a problem whom to you go to for help?

The Year 8 students could then analyse the data and make assumptions and recommendations to be reported back to teaching teams for consideration.

Secondly, the employee pulse survey is designed to take a snapshot of school climate by asking all staff the following:

Employee Pulse Survey

Answer on a scale of 1-10:

  • I believe our work culture is healthy and caring
  • I would refer a friend to apply for a job here
  • How happy are you at work?
  • Do you feel supported in your job?
  • Do you have people you can go to if you need help?
  • Do you have opportunities for growth?
  • How would you rate your work-file balance?
  • Does you Team inspire you to do your best work?
  • Do you feel you can have a voice in decision-making?
  • Do you feel valued for the work you do?

The data is then analysed for trends, reported back to all employees and next steps for improvement developed and actioned over time.

Finally, the parent pulse survey has a similar intention, that is, to capture the current school climate from parents’ perspective around a variety of topics. See a snap shot of the survey below that had 27 items/questions:

Parent Pulse Survey

Answer on a scale of 1-10:

  • Promotes academic success for all students
  • Provides access to instructional technologies that reflect 21st Century Leaming
  • Provides quality activities and opportunities that meet my child’s interests and talents, such as sports, and music
  • Has quality programmes for my child’s gifts, talents, or special needs
  • Teaches and celebrates the core leaming skills (reading, writing, math) needed to thrive in the world
  • Provides opportunities for students to make meaningful decisions about school together
  • Promotes joy for teaching and leaming
  • Conveys confidence in all students’ abilities to do well
  • Provides instructional materials that reflect my child’s culture, ethnicity, and identity.
  • Communicates the importance of respecting people of al cultural beliefs and practices, languages, socio-economic backgrounds, races and ethnicities
  • Has an atmosphere that encourages respect between teachers, student parents, and administrators
  • Treats all students with respect
  • Is an inviting place for students to learn
  • Is a friendly place where I feel welcome to visit
  • Welcomes my contributions and encourages me to be an active partner with the school in educating my child
  • Encourages students to bring their life experiences, culture, and language into the classroom as a foundation for leaming that is relevant to their lives outside of school
  • Keeps me well informed about my child’s progress in school
  • Keeps me well informed about school activities
  • Promptly responds to my phone calls. Messages, or e-mails
  • Has clear, consistent policies and rules
  • Is a place where my child feels safe and feels comfortable asking staff for help
  • Has facilities and grounds that are well-maintained
  • Has a good public image
  • Has a positive impact on the community by giving all students opportunities to “make a difference”
  • Provides quality counselling, or other ways to help students with social or emotional needs
  • Provides adequate extracurricular and/or enrichment activities for my child

Again, the data is analysed for trends and next steps for improvement.

Together the three pulse surveys provide us with rich data to quickly form a perspective on the school culture. Most importantly it allows us to celebrate what is working well and to pin point areas for improvement.

Do you have a finger on the pulse of your school?

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