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Making time to use data effectively

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boy writingSouth Axholme Academy in Doncaster has introduced a series of changes to reduce the time spent on cumbersome data collection and allow teachers time to respond to what the data is telling them.

A year or so ago, it became clear that data collection was becoming cumbersome and time consuming. As a result, the analysis and response to what the data was telling us about student progress was not happening.

The balance was all wrong! We could see where issues were, but were not responding to this information and addressing areas of concern efficiently or in a timely manner. The mechanics of data collection had obscured and overtaken the reason for collecting the data in the first place.

Collaboration with a school in a neighbouring area was key to making the decision as to how to proceed. I visited the school with my Data Manager to see a software package they had purchased to manage data. The visit allowed us to assess the amount of work required by the admin team to get the system up and running. It helped us ascertain if this was what we were looking for in order to use data to address student progress. This coupled with the reasonable cost of the system were the key factors in deciding to move forwards.

New ways of working

Almost a year down the line and the system is in place. The admin team have absorbed some of the work of teachers allowing them time to use the package to analyse performance of their classes and groups within classes. More importantly it allows them time to plan to address areas that the analysis highlights as requiring attention.

Some of the things we have introduced include:

• Target setting for all students, done centrally by the Data Manager, in all subjects based on KS2 results and broken down into end of Key Stage and end of year targets.

• 3 data collection points per student each year. Staff are given one week to input a grade/level and an attitude to learning score per student and the system has been set up to allow data to be inputted from anywhere (home or school to allow flexible working).

• A new software package which summarises data into meaningful information. It is easy to use and analysis is provided with a minimal number of clicks.

• Regular training sessions to help familiarise staff with the software package.

• A single Performance Summary which includes a form tutor report (encompassing academic and pastoral information) as well as separate comments from a member of SLT and the Principal. This replaces subject report writing.

• Spreadsheets are provided by the Data Manager for all staff to show baseline data including CATS, targets, SEND information, disadvantage etc. Similar spreadsheets are also used at Parents’ Evenings.

• One training day disaggregated to create termly meeting time for staff to meet individually with their subject leader to discuss the data, specifically individual students’ progress in all classes and interventions needed as well as sharing good practice (this is based on the primary model used by one of the schools in our Multi-Academy Trust).

As ever, the proof of the pudding is in the eating but we expect that the above changes will have enabled gaps to be closed and all students to have made good progress, through early and timely interventions, measured ultimately through examination performance in the summer.

Next steps

Our next steps are to evaluate calendared pupil progress meetings (created by disaggregating the training day into several afterschool sessions) between staff and subject leaders based on the current data analysis mentioned above. These were introduced earlier in the year (based on the primary model) to monitor and discuss individual pupil progress in all subjects, to ensure all of the above is actually impacting on teaching and learning.

Read more on the workload challenge - ideas from teachers and headteachers on how to tackle workload

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