Data Collaboration – Breaking New Ground Part 2

September 13, 2018
By: Claire Spencer, Head of Consultancy

You may have read my previous blog in which I discussed our Data Collaboration and the importance of accurate data. This obviously doesn’t just apply to the collaboration and is fundamental to good data management anywhere. In this blog I’m going to share some of my top tips and preparation which can be used independently to make the life of a data administrator a little easier overall.

Organisation is key!

In her blog ‘How to be a great Data Manager’, my colleague Kate Moon spoke about the need to be organised, and the importance of ‘understanding not only your assessment data but understanding education’.

With that in mind, the first thing I would recommend doing if you want to be organised is put together an “Exam Bible”. This bible will allow you to view important information at a glance.

In the school where I worked, this was put together by our Exams Officer in conjunction with our faculty heads.  Each member of exams and data staff would have a copy of this printed out and spiral bound on their desks to refer to throughout the year. An example of a couple of pages are shown below:

Along with the awarding body and level of the qualification, you can see roughly how many students are being entered. Including the QN code of the qualification makes it simple to check the official guidance from for discount codes and performance points.  This really comes in handy when setting up SIMS for assessment points, target setting etc., as you can see exactly what qualification students are working towards. For more SIMS best practice ideas, have a look at my colleague Matt’s SIMS Toolkit:

Part 1 –

Part 2 –

When you search on the DfE’s Key Stage 4 qualifications and discount codes guidance, you will see that both Film Studies and Media Studies in the example above have a discount code of KA2 so this is definitely worth bearing in mind when helping students make informed decisions over the courses that they will be studying.

Create your own digital data library

We know the education landscape is ever changing so I would recommend bookmarking useful links, such as KS4 Performance Points, to ensure that you are always up-to-date.

Some other sources you may find useful are:

Secondary Accountability Measures

Qualifications Counting in the English Baccalaureate

16 to 18 accountability measures guide

Performance tables: technical and vocational qualifications

I’d also recommend signing up to DfE notifications:

  • Go to
    · Select the dropdown list of ‘Departments’ and select the ‘Department of Education’. This will
    ensure that you only receive notifications about publications relating to the DfE and not for every
    government department.
    ·              Click on the ‘email’ icon
    ·              Click on ‘Create Subscription’
    ·              Enter your email address when prompted and select ‘Submit’

SISRA also have a Facebook group called School Data Management where school data staff can network and share ideas.  You can request to join the Facebook group here.

Obviously, we’re right at the beginning of the new academic year so a great time to start planning your “exam bible” or bookmarking useful guides (most of these are available within the HELP area of SISRA Analytics). How about spending an hour or so over the coming weeks putting together your list of qualifications, the relevant QN codes and discount codes (if any)?  This shouldn’t take too long at all as most of the data will already be held within your MIS. It’s worth taking the time to get useful information ready so you are prepared for anything!

Hopefully, these steps will help you throughout the academic year and make sure that your data can be used in future data collaborations. If you do have any questions or if you need any help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the consultant team by email on





Claire Spencer, Head of Consultancy