I expect you are familiar with the admonishment from TV programmes, "Don't try this at home!". What you are watching is for professionals, who know what they are doing, but if you try it, you might make a mess of it, and that is dangerous. If you're watching Mythbusters or Brainiac, making a mess of it might involve some nasty burns at the very least. But what about survey work, surely that's harmless enough? Well, let me share some thoughts with you.
"Happy is the man who can make a living by his hobby!", said GBS, but typically there's not a lot of overlap between my day job in health and education and my pastime of chess.
Then two come along at once :)
Consultants, I believe, are fond of saying, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it," and I have a lot of sympathy with that view. So, while Government target-setting may be reduced, the need for recent, local figures is not.
If you have had reports from us before, you may have seen tables which bear some coded markings, like this:
* p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001 (Chi-squared)
Asterisks show where the differences seen between figures are statistically significant, that is, unlikely to be due to chance. Just how unlikely is shown by the number of asterisks, where *** says that fewer than one in a thousand similar studies would yield a result as different as this by chance alone.
Adapting to change, nothing new here as SHEU prepare to meet the challenges of 2011.
Having navigated our way through the last 33 years of providing nationally recognised survey services I have found it helpful to take a very quick glance at the writings of the good and the great on the subject of 'change'...
The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions - Ellen Glasgow
When you're through changing, you're through - Bruce Barton
Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed - Irene Peter
“We’re very happy to commission another survey from you. Our colleagues in School Improvement are dead keen to work with us on this” said a Local Authority Senior Adviser recently. "During our last LA Inspection, we were flagged from our Tellus data as having a bullying problem. We could demonstrate with our SHEU data -- which had a much better sample size and coverage of the authority -- that we did not have the problem they suggested. The Inspectors went away happy and we are definitely surveying again with SHEU.”
Budget cuts / Restricted budgets?
Some clients we are working with are starting to re-charge some or all of the survey costs to their schools.
Two decades of SHEU Health-Related Behaviour Surveys
The Schools Health Education Unit (SHEU) have been working with the colleagues from the Bailiwick of Guernsey for two decades now, and our survey work has accumulated a database of over 10,000 cases. These have mostly been whole-population lifestyle surveys but some have been focussed on particular topics or groups.
Many years ago SHEU were invited to a conference of the Asthma Training Centre*, who were in the middle of a big effort to raise awareness of childhood asthma and to train school nurses about the management of asthma in schools. Dr Dave was interested to discover that while medical staff think of well-managed asthma as being keeping the occurrence and severity of symptoms at a minimum, many young people with asthma seemed to have a goal of taking as little medication as possible.