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Page last updated at 13:46 GMT, Thursday, 3 February 2011

School Report Survey: Introductory Lesson

School Reporters at Hendon School complete the survey online
School Reporters at Hendon School complete the survey online

This lesson plan is a way of introducing students to the School Report Survey 2011 and exploring the purpose of surveys in general.

It includes time to complete the survey and can take between 30 minutes and an hour, depending on the time available.


For students to gain an understanding of:

  • What surveys are and how are they carried out
  • How surveys are used in news

And a chance for students to complete the School Report 2011 Survey.


1. Generating headlines

Choose one pupil who is happy to come to the front of the class and ask them a series of survey-like questions. Possible questions could include:

  • How do you get to school?
  • What is your favourite TV programme?
  • What do you normally have for lunch?
  • What is your favourite sport?

Then, create some headlines from their answers, for example:

  • All children walk to school
  • Most pupils have packed lunch
  • The majority of pupils in the UK prefer football to all other sports

Ask the class whether these headlines are correct.


2. Discussion

Discuss how you could make this activity more representative including asking larger numbers of pupils in the class, the school, different ages, different schools etc.

Explain to students: This is why we want a large number of students across the UK to fill in our School Report survey. It will provide a broader, more useful and interesting picture compared with the responses provided by a single school.

3. Surveys

Surveys are often included in news stories. Show pupils some recent news stories that have included statistics.

There are always plenty of examples around in newspapers and on news websites but here are some you may like to use:

Questions to address in groups:

  • What does the survey add to the story?
  • What are the advantages/disadvantages of surveys?

4. School Report Survey 2011

Explain to students: The School Report 2011 survey is an online questionnaire for all 11 to 16-year-olds in schools taking part in School Report 2011; so it's for School Reporters as well as other students in their school.

It will take about 15 minutes for you to complete it. We hope thousands of teenagers will take part. All the answers will be counted to make the survey results, which will then be reported in the news.

Most computers will open PDF documents automatically, but you may need Adobe Reader

At this stage if you think it is appropriate and you have time, you can show the questions to the pupils in advance of filling it in.

Also, here is a Question and Answer page about the School Report survey. Hopefully this will answer any queries you might have but if you have any other questions , please let us know.

There is a shorter version of this Q&A online which your pupils will see when they begin to complete the questionnaire.

You might want to stress, that their answers are anonymous, that they don't have to answer any questions they don't want to and that if they are not sure about a particular question they can always ask a teacher. And don't forget to check with your Head Teacher first that they are happy for your pupils to complete it.

School Report is working on this with the Royal Statistical Society Centre for Statistical Education (RSSCSE). They are based at the University of Plymouth and the raw data will be stored securely on their servers. The RSSCSE have run the CensusAtSchool project for the last 10 years and have a great deal of expertise on data collection in schools and creating teaching and learning resources relating to data.

5. Complete the questionnaire online

Here is the School Report Survey 2011 for your students to complete individually. As explained above, this site is hosted by the Royal Statistical Society Centre for Statistical Education.

Don't forget you will need to give the seven digit code for your school to the pupils. If you're not sure what this is, please contact the School Report team at

Also let pupils know that the first thing they are asked to do on the Survey is a simple addition sum. This tells the computer that it's being filled in by a real person not a machine.


6. Suggested extension activities for School Reporters:

  • In groups, ask pupils to make a list of the questions they found most interesting. Choose three of these and ask them to start planning possible news stories round the question/topics for the News Day.
  • Pupils create their own questionnaire. This might either follow on from the questions in the School Report Survey or refer to completely different topics.
  • Closer to the News Day, we will produce a lesson plan about interpreting the results from your school; this is always something you could do now with your Maths department.


7. Statistics and headlines

Label each of the four walls of the classroom:

  • By car
  • On foot
  • By bike
  • By bus

Ask ALL the class this question: How do you travel to school? (It's one of the questions asked of ONE student at the beginning of this lesson)

Students move to the wall which represents their answer with 'Other' students gathering in the centre of the room.

Now, based on the collective responses, generate a headline e.g. 60% of pupils in this class walk to school.

Now ask students to look at these incomplete headlines:

  • _____% of pupils in this school walk to school
  • _____% of pupils in the UK walk to school

How many students do you think you would need to ask to be able to get representative answers and complete the headlines?

And finally: What possible news topics could you research once you had these statistics?

Useful links:

CensusAtSchool is a project for schools run by the Royal Statistical Society Centre for Statistical Education, the organisation that are partnering with School Report to run the School Report Survey. [The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites]

More or Less is a Radio 4 programme devoted to the world of numbers and their use in the media and politics.

A video by Michael Blastland, former producer of BBC Radio 4's More or Less about using numbers in the news.

School Report Survey 2011: Q&A
21 Jan 11 |  School Report


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