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Why should MATs centralise their data?

Why should MATs centralise their data?

/ Liza Adebisi

Having all your data in one place is key to a successful improvement strategy. Any MAT should invest in a system able to centralise all data.

Data, data everywhere… you may have heard the phrase before, but where exactly is it kept, and how can you use it?

We can all agree that data is the most valuable asset for any organisation, including schools and MATs. The reality is that just having data that is scattered everywhere, with the chance of some of it getting lost or simply not being found, is not very useful. In order for data to be used to its full potential, this must be structured, organised and kept together in one place.

So, when it comes to data, what are the challenges MATs face?

MATs and Data

A Multi Academy Trust, by definition, comprises a number of academies. Each academy collects, stores and organises its own data, which is then reported to the MAT leaders.

One of the issues with this process arises from how the different schools within the group collect the data. If each school uses a different management system (especially if they have newly joined the MAT) to extract and store data, each school will end up having a different database. This will lead to each school reporting the data in a different way, causing a disruption for leaders in data visualisation and, later, difficulties in analysis.

If analysing data becomes difficult due to disrupted visualisation, it will be harder to define a cohesive ethos and set out a consistent strategy for school improvement across all their academies.

How can this be solved?

Firstly, MATs must ensure that all their establishments manage their data through the same system. This will make it easier for the same processes and best practices to be followed in each instance.

Collaboration and sharing of best practices is only possible if all academies use not only the same data management platform but also the same communication tools (ideally these should be integrated within the main system’s interface). The same MIS software should be implemented across all member schools.

In this way, all academies will run and automate operations in the same way, and it will be easier for them not just to communicate to the trust but to their peers.

A shared MIS that is able to help with managing assessment, tracking behaviour and attendance, and processing finance means that all that is relevant to these operations is understood and organised by staff in different schools in the same way. Consistency in use of technology will result in consistency in use of language, methodology and scope. This is of utmost importance because any MAT would want to align all its schools to work collaboratively, and to reflect the same vision and values.

Thus, once MAT leaders have made sure the same technology is adopted in all their academies, they can confidently know that all member schools are running processes in the same way.

Visualising results

Once agreed that all member academies should use the same data management system, MAT leaders will have to decide which system responds best to their needs.

The best technology will be one that enables MATs to access a holistic and harmonious view of all the aggregated school data, while also giving the possibility to delve into the depths of details when necessary and have the most accurate insight.

Bromcom MIS for MATs

Bromcom has transformed the way schools interact with data.

Bromcom has collaborated with numerous trusts over the years and has tailored its MAT Vision to offer a highly detailed view of member academies within a MAT.

Vision automatically collates data from all sites, producing a single, secure centralised dataset with everything needed to be visualised at top level about pupils and staff. Then for more in-depth investigations and analysis, the same platform gives access to detailed reports about a single school or student, accessible through simply drilling down on the KPIs entries.

John Barneby, Chief Operations Officer at Oasis Academy Trust, has said:

“Using the Bromcom MAT Vision’s SQL access and SSIS allows us to extract the consolidated data for all of our Academies into our own data warehouse. This enables us to integrate with other data sources and supplement the data available in Bromcom, for both staff and Students. This takes the process of extracting the data from over 53 separate Bromcom MIS SQL databases from a tedious repetitive process to a simple extraction. Without MAT Vision the Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) process using 3rd part products would have taken around 3-4 hours each time, produced unreliable results and could only be run twice a day. Now it takes less than 30 mins with more reliable results and can be run as frequently as we want.”

Bromcom’s analytics dashboards take MAT leaders to the heart of their group’s strengths and weaknesses. Rather than being limited to static figures, the dashboards demonstrate trends and ensure awareness of dips in behaviour or increases in persistent absentees.

Bromcom is the only MIS that can display Microsoft Power BI dashboards within the interface, making it far more accessible for school and MAT stakeholders. These are fully customisable consoles that can be unique to the MAT using them.

Why is visualisation important?

Because dashboards are visually intuitive and designed to ensure a swift interaction with the system, they enhance engagement and comprehension of the data by the user.

Dr Lynell Burmak, Ph.D. Associate at the Thornburg Center for Professional Development, explains that:

“…unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear… Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.”

To have a visually appealing platform makes the data more accessible and easier to interpret.

Creating a sense of togetherness and enhancing collaboration within the trust

Collaboration and a sense of community across institutions within the same group are vital for any MAT to be successful.

Cloud-based MIS, like Bromcom, permit broader connectivity. It is easier for different schools to co-operate if they are plugged into the same server, use the same data reporting tools and communicate through the same channels.

Maintaining good communication practices might be easier within one single school, but when several schools are involved, and it comes to coordinating a much greater number of students, parents and teachers, then technology must be a reliable resource that is easily accessible and seamlessly operational.

Neil Miley, Executive Principal at Dixons Academy Trust, has commented on his staff experience before switching to Bromcom:

“For our admin teams it can take two and a half hours, daily, to organise messages to parents for various extracurricular activities. This involves multiple systems for messaging and creating registers. So being able to do it all in the system will be a huge time saver”

If empowered by the same MIS, schools’ collaborative potential expands, making it easier for teachers, students and parents to connect with a larger group and support each other. Bromcom integrates its communication tools within the interface, so there isn’t a need to hop from system to system and invest extra time doing so.

At Bromcom, we continue to work with MATs and schools of all sizes and are committed to helping our partners on their journey to improvement. If you’d like to know more, why not check all the products, features and services on our website? Or simply get in touch, we’re always happy to answer any question.

Liza Adebisi

Liza Adebisi