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Please find detailed information below for parents of the young people who took part in our online pupil survey in 2020, which we are now calling the OxWell School Survey 2020. Schools were requested to send out this information to parents one week before they plan to invite pupils to take part in the survey.


 Online Pupil Survey 2020 – Home Edition


Ethics Approval Reference: R62366/RE0010


In partnership with researchers at the University of Oxford, your child’s school has agreed to take part in a study investigating school pupils’ health and well-being by asking pupils to log in to an online survey. We very much hope you would like your child to take part in this study, but before you decide, it is important that you understand why the study is being done and what it will involve.

What are we trying to find out?

Adolescence is a critical period for mental health and brain development. By asking school pupils to tell us how they experience school life and health-related issues, we hope to better understand what is happening to the mental health of young people, and to inform schools, the local council and their partners, how to provide pupils with the best support and guidance to keep them safe and happy. We also aim to gain insight into how adolescents view surveys like this, as part of a larger project called ‘Pathfinder’. More information about this study and the larger project can be obtained on the research team’s webpage (listed above), or by contacting the research team at: 

Why has my child been invited to take part?

We are inviting your child to take part because they are aged 8 years or older, currently in school year 4-13, and attending one of the participating schools or FE Colleges in Oxfordshire or one of the other participating counties in Southern England. We are inviting up to 120,000 young people to take part.

Does my child have to take part?

No. You can ask questions about the study before deciding whether or not to allow your child to participate, and you can change your mind without giving a reason. If you do not want your child to take part in the research, you can notify your child’s school. Please be aware that once your child has completed the survey, we will not be able to identify them to exclude their data.

What will happen if my child takes part?

During a designated school period of around 30 minutes, pupils will be invited to log in to the Online Pupil Survey, to answer around 200 questions on life-style and health-related issues. This might be a remote/virtual school lesson while your child is at home during the COVID-19 lockdown. Some of the questions address sensitive areas (e.g. internet safety, bullying, mental well-being), and there are different versions of the survey to ensure that the content is age-matched. At the end of the survey, appropriate advice and guidance is provided with links (e.g. There is also an optional link to additional questions that ask about how young people are dealing with fears associated with COVID-19, including the fear of people dying.

What are the advantages / disadvantages of taking part?

One potential risk of this study is that your child will be asked questions about a topic that they know nothing or very little about, such as the risky behaviours associated with adolescence (years 8-13 only). To mitigate the risks, different versions of the survey have been designed to ensure that the questions are age-appropriate, and most questions are hidden and only seen by pupils who indicate that they understand the topic and have experience in it. Schools and pupils are provided with useful links to websites offering suitable information and guidance. We have also considered the risk of identifying pupils in the data (a breach of confidentiality), and have omitted both explicit identifiers (such as name, address, date of birth) and other questions that we felt might make it possible to identify pupils (e.g. ethnicity, special needs, parents in armed forces). Only summaries of the data will be shared with schools, and the research data will be stored in encrypted files on secure servers and transferred with secure encryption.

There are no direct benefits of taking part, but one of the aims of the survey is to advise schools on which topics pupils most require additional information to be fully aware of the dangers of specific situations and behaviours. 

What happens to the data provided?

The information you or your child provide as part of the study is the research data. Any research data from which you or your child can be identified is known as personal data. In this study we do not wish to identify pupils and have taken measures to minimise the collection of personal data. We do not collect names, addresses, date of birth, ethnicity, IP addresses, or use individual logins to the survey. A school login is provided to pupils, and opt-out records will be held by the school. We do ask some sensitive questions that relate to mental health, but make it clear that pupils can leave any questions blank if they do not wish to answer. Personal or sensitive data will be stored confidentially in password protected files on secure servers and (back-ups) on the university’s Nexus 365 One Drive For Business. We would like your permission to use your child’s data in future studies, and to share data with other researchers (e.g. in online databases). All personal information that could identify you or your child will be removed or changed before information is shared with other researchers or results are made public. Responsible members of the University of Oxford may be given access to data for monitoring and/or audit of the study. All research data will be stored for at least 5 years after publication or public release of the work of the research. Summaries of our findings will be given to the school and will be available to interested families.

Who is conducting this research?

The research project is organized by Mina Fazel and Karen Mansfield at the University of Oxford. Mina Fazel is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Associate Professor, and Karen Mansfield is a Research Scientist. The research is funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), by the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration and the Oxford Health NIHR Biomedical Research Centre. This study has been reviewed by, and received ethics clearance through, the University of Oxford’s Central University Research Ethics Committee, [CUREC reference R62366/RE0010].

What if there is a problem?

If you have a concern about any aspect of this project, please contact Karen Mansfield on / 01865 613133, who will do her best to answer your query. The researcher should acknowledge your concern within 10 working days and give you an indication of how she intends to deal with it. If you remain unhappy or wish to make a formal complaint, please contact the Chair of the Research Ethics Committee at the University of Oxford who will seek to resolve the matter in a reasonably expeditious manner.

Chair, Medical Sciences Inter-Divisional Research Ethics Committee; Email:; Address: Research Services, University of Oxford, Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JD 

Data Protection

The University of Oxford is the data controller with respect to your personal data, and as such will determine how your personal data is used in the study. The University will process your personal data for the purpose of the research outlined above. Research is a task that is performed in the public interest.

Further information about your rights with respect to your personal data is available from

What should I do next?

Please contact your child’s school if you would not like your child to take part in this study, or use the school’s usual electronic methods for parental opt-out. If you would like to discuss the research with someone beforehand (or if you have questions afterwards), please contact: Karen Mansfield, Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, Tel 01865 613133, Email: