Use of data in the classroom

March 28, 2017
By: Claire Spencer, Head of Consultancy

When I was thinking about topics for this post, I was reading some of the other blogs that my colleagues and I have written recently and realised that the focus has been on whole school or year 11 data. None of us have actually talked about the data that is used in the classroom. My strong belief is that data should start at classroom level and work up. Data staff in schools should ensure that the data they provide to teachers will help them deliver a better learning experience to the young people in front of them.

Before I joined SISRA, I worked as a Data Manager in a large Outstanding school where all teachers would have what we referred to as “Standards Folders”. These contained a profile of all of their classes showing contextual information such as gender, pupil premium, special educational needs & disabilities (need and type), EAL, % attendance etc. I also provided class photos as well as templates for seating plans. There wasn’t any expectation on how teachers used their Standards Folders, but they were expected to know the contents and ensure that it was kept up to date following any class changes or assessment points.

This class profile shows all students within a class together with contextual information i.e. gender, latest attendance, ethnicity, SEND etc. together with KS2 fine level, CAT test results and target grade.

An excerpt from my school’s Ofsted inspection when they were judged Outstanding states:

“Systems used to ensure the rigorous collection, analysis and use of student performance data are exceptional. They allow teachers to plan effectively for all students’ individual needs. This key feature is an essential component of the excellent teaching which the students experience and the rapid progress they make.”

There are so many different software systems available for class profiles and seating plans out there (many are free to download) so I’m not going to comment on them here. A simple Word document, Excel spreadsheet or a mark sheet set up from your MIS would be enough, so long as it contains relevant information. Don’t overload staff with anything that is not relevant or helpful to them (most schools have some staff that are data shy and you don’t want to scare them).

Have a think about what a class teacher may need to be able to find out from the data that is given to them? If we take a look at some students in the class profile shown above:

Damon A

  • Attendance is 91% so therefore a concern
  • He has a special need of Behaviour, Emotional, Social Difficulty
  • Middle ability
  • Armed forces

What could be done to help Damon? The Service Pupil Premium is designed so that schools can offer mainly pastoral support during challenging times and to help mitigate the negative impact on service children. Could a mentor be appointed to ensure that Damon’s attendance improves? Is he accumulating behaviour points because of his special needs? Is there a 6 week targeted programme that he could be involved in? Or any parental workshops and engagement?

Jennifer A

  • 100% attendance
  • More Able
  • High Prior Attainment

Is Jennifer being challenged in class? Are additional tasks being provided to her to ensure that she doesn’t get bored?

Jane A

  • Attendance good
  • Pupil Premium
  • FSM

Jane A has a high CAT Verbal score whereas her CAT Quantitative score is below average. This will mean that her ability to use numerical skills to solve problems is weaker than her ability to comprehend words. A class teacher should be aware of this when setting work.

We have looked at three individual students here but this kind of information should be sought for all students in every class.

Once an assessment is done, then the pastoral information should be used alongside any assessment data to identify:

  • Who is furthest away from expectations?
  • Who is and who is not improving as expected?
  • Does this relate to the topics taught?
  • Who is making less progress than expected or than their peers?

Once a teacher has identified this, they can then move on and see if there are any patterns forming. For example:

  • What are the trends for key groups; are girls outperforming boys?
  • Are pupil premium students doing worse than non-pupil premium students – if so, is there any PP money available for intervention?
  • Is work differentiated for more able/SEND students?

So in conclusion, have a think about what data you are giving to staff to ensure that the children or young people get the education that they deserve.

My colleague Becky’s blog ‘How to Train and Engage Teaching Staff in the Use of In-School Data’ covers the next steps.