/ Ed Cadwallader
Bromcom’s MAT Vision has removed a great barrier to efficiency many of our MAT customers faced as it means data flows automatically from Bromcom and SIMS MIS systems into a central warehouse and so they no longer need to manually chase schools for data and manually add it to spreadsheets. However, simply having the data in the same place does not automatically mean you can use it to make useful comparisons. This blog considers the next steps towards making your trust wide data a source of valid insights into your schools’ relative strengths and weaknesses.
The key is consistency, if data in individual schools is not collected using consistent naming conventions and according to consistent principles then it is very difficult to use it to make meaningful comparisons between those schools.
When analysing Attendance, Student Demographics and Exclusions consistency is to a large extent guaranteed by the high degree of statutory control over what and how data is recorded. For this reason much of our early BI development has been in these areas.
Exclusions Analysis, incidence and breakdown by reasons
Behaviour is more complicated as policies are frequently unique to each school and the task of standardising them is complicated by the fact that all staff need to know and understand which events should be recorded in a given set of circumstances and events can trigger workflow (Detentions or ‘Actions’ such as letters home) so changes to individual events can necessitate changes to the Behaviour set up.
Possibly due to these complications, up until now we haven’t seen our MAT Vision users making much use of Behaviour data, which is a shame because, unlike Assessment, Behaviour data gives you a real time picture of what’s happening in school, and good behaviour is a fundamental bedrock of improved learning outcomes. If any customer wishes to pilot new developments of Behaviour Analytics in MAT Vision, I encourage them to get in touch, email@example.com, to discuss the free support we can provide.
Detail from Attendance Dashboard – the standardised nature of Attendance data makes comparison easier than with Behaviour or Assessment
Assessment data in Bromcom is tied to meaningful associations such as the subject, year and term of the collection as well as the assessment type. This means that in order for trust wide assessment analysis to be possible, MATs must harmonise their subject and year names. While this requires an investment of effort, it will be more than repaid due to the better analysis and easier sharing of expertise enabled by use of common names and structures. The new Group Details page in the MIS means that making these changes is quicker and easier than before.
Analysis of the incidence and duration of staff absences can be carried out in MAT Vision regardless of how absences are characterised in the MIS. However, for investigations into the nature/reasons for absences to be possible then a common classification system should be used.
A trade off of switching schools to a new set of codes is that it makes comparing future patterns of absence to past ones in that school more difficult. The trust must decide if the benefit of comparability across the trust in the future outweighs the negative of losing this in-school comparability.
A consistent naming convention is a necessary condition for effective analysis in MAT Vision but not a sufficient one. Two teachers can use the same form to describe a Prediction, in Maths, in Year 11 in Autumn of grade 5 – but the underlying realities they are describing with those two judgments could still be wildly different.
Technology can only play a limited role in solving this dilemma. However, it’s important to raise here because for many trusts the process of getting data, any data, in a collated form has been so torturous that it can feel like the end of a journey. We would be doing our customers if we presented MAT Vision as a short cut to that destination. Easily collating teacher judgments from across the trust is not the end of a process but the beginning, as those judgments must be checked and calibrated before they can be relied upon to provide meaningful information.
MAT Vision is best thought of as a map, pieced together from the accounts of different explorers. With this map in hand you can identify sites of interest and visit to check if they are truly as represented, before these checks are carried out though you can’t assume that the map accurately describes the territory.