Wellbeing Measurement for Early Years – staff survey

Schools have been using the Wellbeing Measurement for Schools staff survey for a few years now and finding it a useful tool for understanding how staff are feeling and informing school improvement.

We’re always trying to broaden the support we offer and were aware that early year’s settings didn’t have a similar survey to help them to support their staff team and wanted to do something to address this.  A great thing about being part of the Anna Freud Centre is the access we have to colleagues with a vast range of experience and expertise.  Developing an early year’s survey was a brilliant opportunity to partner with colleagues in the Early Years Team, led by Dr Abi Miranda, to ensure we developed something that met the specific needs of early years settings.

Fortunately, the Early Years team had already carried out a large survey of 1,458 staff working in nurseries and preschool settings across England focusing on staff wellbeing.  The results of this research informed the development of the tool. 

Working with early years colleagues, we reviewed our schools staff survey and identified which elements that we could use and where we’d need to develop new items to ensure the survey felt relevant to the systems and structures within early years settings and spoke to their priorities and challenges identified in their research. 

We identified some key areas to include:

  • How early years practitioners and staff are feeling.

  • What is driving good and poor mental health, including how staff feel about work practices, culture, engagement and management.

  • How supported staff in early years settings feel.

  • Whether staff feel equipped to support young children in their settings with their mental health.

  • Any additional support they need for their mental health and wellbeing.

One of our challenges was ensuring that we considered the wide range of types of settings that make up the early years sector.  We needed a tool that would be as useful to a small voluntary sector nursery as it was to a large children’s centre. 

In the summer of 2022, we had a version of the survey that we felt was ready to test out.  Through the extensive Anna Freud early years network, Early Years in Mind, we contacted settings and asked whether they’d be willing to pilot the survey.  We agreed to provide the survey electronically and produce a report for the setting, and the settings agreed to give us feedback. 

The pilots surveys we completed in July and we met with settings in September to talk about their experiences. We had some really positive feedback – staff were supportive that we were developing this area of our work.  They felt that the survey asked the right questions and the results provided useful insight into how staff were feeling and this would support further developments. Colleagues were also able to guide us to how the survey could be refined to make it even better. 

We were excited to be able to launch the survey as a free resource earlier this month and really hope that early years settings will find it a useful tool for supporting staff wellbeing. Measuring the wellbeing of staff is integral to promoting a whole-setting approach to mental health.

Download Early Years Settings free Staff Survey resource

You can also view a video featuring Dr Abi Miranda, the Head of Early Years and Prevention at the Anna Freud Centre, discusses wellbeing in early years settings with a focus on wellbeing and intersectionality and tips for practitioner and managers, which you can watch here.


Nick Tait, CORC Programme Manager

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