The Girls’ Day School Trust’s (GDST) director of innovation and learning, Dr Kevin Stannard, and deputy director, Libby Nicholas, argued that the strategic use of data is characteristic of high-performing schools. They spoke at this year’s SIMS Independent Conference, which took place at the Beaumont Estate in Windsor in mid-March.
The team from GDST explained to the 290 delegates that data on pupil progress – such as assessment results, homework scores and participation in wider school activities – play an important role in supporting good decision making in schools. The data can reveal where pupils can be stretched further, or even where high parental expectations in certain subjects may be unrealistic. They can also be used to help build up the evidence on which a complete leaving transcript of a child’s achievement can be based.
The focus should be on the positive use of data, they stressed. Data should never be used to unfairly pin failure on pupils or teachers; nor should it be used as a crutch, giving pupils under-ambitious and easily hit targets. They spoke about how it can help ensure everyone works as a team, so parents, students, staff and management should all have access to the data and share an understanding of what it means. This way the information is used to set achievable and realistic targets and ensure that the culture in a school is one of aspiration.
Stamford Endowed Schools also presented a session and focused on how they are recording and monitoring pupils’ grades for effort as well as academic grades. For their schools, this effort score is providing an early indication of when pupils need more support, helping ensure pupils of all academic abilities can aim to improve. The result has improved pupil motivation across the schools.
Finally, the SIMS Independent team spoke about developments in the management information technology used to record and analyse pupil performance data. One of the key advances is the ability to access and record data via a tablet in the classroom, making the process of using pupil data in school simpler and less time consuming.