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Using monitoring questionnaires

In England, 5.2 million adults have literacy levels below the levels required to achieve a GCSE grade D-G, That’s 16% of the population

Questionnaires are often used to monitor diversity, but beware of using them exclusively as literacy is a huge issue for many people and it’s a higher than average percentage for many diverse groups. Add to that the access issues posed by print for many disabled people – for example, people with dyslexia, visual impairment, issues with manual dexterity, issues with concentration etc and you start to see the problem, and that’s before considering ‘form fatigue’ and those people who simply don’t like forms.

If forms are going to be used, make them simple, clear and make sure they explain why you are collecting the information.

Lets take a monitoring form and work through it:

Sample monitoring form

This form is for monitoring purposes only and the information on it is confidential. We are asking for this information in order to ensure that across all our work we are reaching as diverse a range of people as possible. We want to get better at what we do, and knowing who we are reaching is part of this. Thank you for helping us.

For each section there is an option of ‘I choose not to answer’, if you are uncomfortable answering any or all of the questions please tick this box rather than leave the section blank as we can still capture your reply as a valid statistical response.

COMMENTS People can see why you need the information and what you are going to do with it, the information is clear and the respondent is thanked for being involved. The ‘choose not to answer’ bit is really important – some people are very sensitive about some information, but ok about other bits.

     16 - 25
     26 – 35  
     36 - 4  
     46 – 55  
     I choose not to answer       

COMMENTS You may have specific age groupings that you need to collect information on – try checking your local authority and see what age bands they are using so you can make comparisons.

     I choose not to answer      

COMMENTS There is no need to put ‘transgender’ down as someone who identifies with ‘female’ for example, can tick ‘female’, irrespective of their birth gender.

Do you consider yourself to be a disabled person, have a long term health condition or have any access needs?
     I choose not to answer     

COMMENTS By broadening your definition of 'disabiility you may increase the number of people happy to 'tick the box' for you.

Please tick the box that applies to your background
          Any other White background (please give details)
          White and Black Caribbean
          White and Black African
          White and Asian
          Any other Mixed background (please give details)
     Asian or British Asian:
          Any other Asian background (please give details)
     Black or Black British
          Any other Black background (please give details)
     Chinese or any other ethnic group
          Any other (please give details) 
     I choose not to answer     

COMMENTS This is the list of catagories here as used by the Equalities Commission .

     Gay Male
     Bisexual Male
     Bisexual Female 
     I choose not to answer 

COMMENTS Its still controversial to collect data on sexuality - go to to find out why you should.