The 20/21 school year is likely going to be one of the most challenging in history. The uncertainty caused by COVID-19 is going to cause an increased workload for teachers and senior leadership alike as they plan and react for the unknown future. More than ever, we at Community Brands are focusing on freeing up as much time as possible so school staff can focus on the most important thing – the teaching and learning that happens at their schools. As the managing consultant for our analytics products, I have had many conversations with our multi academy trust partners in recent months. A common thread has emerged from these conversations – an increased need for timely data from their schools. A trust may have historically created data dashboards for their schools on a termly or even annual basis. Now many trusts are requiring at a minimum, daily attendance, and staff absence figures.
Where a trust central team does not have central access to their schools MIS, this could mean a flurry of phone calls and emails to each school to obtain the data every single morning! This obviously places a huge time burden on both the person at each school creating the report but also on the person at the trust central office who is collating the data.
All these factors have led to a surge of interest in our market-leading analytics platforms, Assembly Analytics and Groupcall Analytics. Both products leverage our huge experience and expertise in school data extraction and combine them with effective visualisations which provide multi-academy trusts with all the data they need at a click of a button.
This removes any burden for the school to report the numbers up to the trust office and removes any data collation burden for the trust.
As a former data manager, I think we are at the start of an exciting time for the use of data across schools and trusts. We now have more access to school data than ever before. The amount of data that we are collecting in the MIS and the various assessment and safeguarding platforms should allow schools to leverage these huge amounts of data more effectively. In the multi-academy trust setting, this data should be used to inform the questions that the trust team ask of the school leaders, not just drive decisions made with little school input. Data should also be used positively, not just to identify areas where schools maybe deficient. Helping trusts understand their school’s successes is just as important!
Finally, having easy access to all of this school data will enable schools to transition from using data more reactively (what were the attendance figures last term, how did the students do during the last assessment period) to more predictive analytics. We are already at a point now where some trusts are using our platforms to be able identify individual students that may require interventions or support based on trends in their attendance, behaviour, assessment results etc. This is incredibly important as it will allow schools to get ahead of any potential issues and provide individualised support to every student.