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Governors - data for monitoring

(28 Posts)
handmademitlove Wed 19-Jun-19 07:39:49

What data do you receive to help you monitor school performance? Over the last few years we have gone from too little data to too much data so I would like to get an idea of what other schools do.

As a starting point , at the moment we get all year groups predicted p8 and a8, 5+ passes, by subject, by group ie pp, send, eal etc.

That is a lot of data to look through.

Any suggestions of good practice or examples from other schools would be appreciated!

OP’s posts: |
BubblesBuddy Wed 19-Jun-19 10:19:49

I’m primary but I would expect all of that plus boys and girls progress in secondary.

However, you should get an executive summary. This should cover the main headline issues and point you towards key stats. It should also link in with your Improvement Plan. Therefore it focussed the data on what you have identified as requiring attention.

Also you can ask your Teaching and Learning Committee (or similar) to write concise minutes detailing what they have pulled out as important from what the data they see. The main thing is that governors are informed, able to question the Head and ensure that the Improvement Plan is actually being delivered. You should also be able to flag up issues which might need to included in the Plan, such as poorer performance by boys for example.

As a Primary Governor, my HTs Report was 35-40 pages long. It included core subjects so fewer than secondary. Most secondary governors I know received a “book” from the Head but most get an executive summary which our LA recommends. This is the way to go in my view because it’s focussed without losing detail.

handmademitlove Wed 19-Jun-19 11:23:58

The problem is that the amount of data at secondary level is many times that at primary. All the data training courses in our area are for primary only - presumably because no one has yet found a sensible solution for secondary.

We do get summaries from SLT - but are told that we need to triangulate this information with the available data. But there is so much of it! I just wonder how other secondaries manage this?

OP’s posts: |
BubblesBuddy Wed 19-Jun-19 13:22:07

Yes, of course I accept it is more data, but that does not mean the SLT cannot give you an executive summary for all subjets, all critieria and give you a commentary as to how it relates to the Improvement Plan.

My DH is a board member for his company. Information and data is distributed but it is not down to board members to do all the legwork interms of drawing conclusions and triangulation! That is imossible and ludicrously time consuming. It is what the SLT are paid to do regarding Governors. Being on a governing body is not DIY. The whole GB should be asking for coherent presentation of data with issues and concerns highlighted as well as successes.

You all need to evaluate what yiu do and how you do it. What info you all need and, in your case, what you might not need. The SLT are clearly saying to you that they are not really taking responsibility for servicing the GB. It is a case of working together and Governors can be precise about what data they want.However, no one these days should take too much data away from Governors because you have responsibilities too.

I have no doubt if you looked for external training on data handling for secondary schools you could find it. Do you have whole GB training sessions? Who decides what your training subjects are? Who gives the training?

handmademitlove Wed 19-Jun-19 15:05:33

I think I am not explaining myself well. SLT provide all the information we need to understand the situation and the action plans if needed. Training is set by ourselves and is very much under control but there are no in depth training courses on this in our area.
The issue is that our advisors have told us that we must triangulate what we are told by SLT with our sources of information - it is this triangulation that I am seeking to u understand. Do other schools look at the raw data as it were? Or do they triangulate in other ways? If you are told subject X is greatly improved, how do you validate that information?

OP’s posts: |
BubblesBuddy Wed 19-Jun-19 16:45:50

I’m sorry I misunderstood but your original post said there was too much data. That’s what I tried to answer.

I can only speak of primary but it can be used by senior schools.

Each governor takes a subject or group of subjects. If that subject is in the Improvement Plan and is getting special attention, a governor monitors that part of the Improvement Plan and the subject.

They will make an appointment to see the subject leader or data lead and go through the data highlighting challenges, successes etc. Some GBs have a special meeting for this via T&L Committee. What is the data telling the governor(s)? What does progress look like? Do you understand how assessment works? Are outcomes close to predictions? Is progress 8 what was expected? Are the outcomes close? If not, why not? What’s going to be done about it? PP needs special attention. Look at what you need to know in terms of the Improvement Plan and whether the data is actually showing improvement or not. Each governor cannot do every subject so split it up. We had subject leaders attend GB meetings. Could you do this and ask questions? They also gave subject reports. Again you can query data on these. For example, if govt data shows poor progress for lower achievers, what is being done to improve this?

However, I still think you must rely on your SLT and senior staff to guide you. They should give you up to date info on everything in the Improvement Plan with data and commentary to back it up. So you might want to check lower, middle and high achiever progress, boy/girl progress, SEN, Pp progress and possibly staff training to deliver the desired outcomes etc. If the school isn’t meeting the SIP objectives, query this. The whole process is about getting behind the data to see what it’s telling you.

The school has experts in this field and it is still down to them to make a commentary and for you to delve under the surface by talking to staff, checking data against the SIP and recording questions and answers.

We have the HT report 10 days in advance and ask questions 7 days before the meeting. HT responds and the whole document goes to the GB. This is evidence for Ofsted that you are challenging and know your school and the SIP is being monitored. We also send in subject and SIP reports after visits. Surely the key to this is understanding what the data is telling you.

Any school has to triangulate the information or how do they know what it’s telling them? They are the leaders in this, not you. If they don’t know what the data is saying, how does the SIP work or self evaluation? I think your Advisor is expecting too much from Governors.

Hope this is a bit more what you are looking for. Other schools might work differently of course and some will involve governors a lot less. However good governors know their schools but the SLT must give you views on what the data is showing and then you monitor accuracy and look for over gilding!

handmademitlove Wed 19-Jun-19 17:28:32

I think this may be the problem - we do all this in terms of monitoring and discussion with subject leaders etc. However we have been told several times by different advisors that we must triangulate and we cannot just take schools word for it. I think as you say looking at books, going through data with subject heads should be enough. I wasn't sure if others were doing more in terms of digging down into the data itself to check what you are being told is correct.. we also think that is too much but I wondered if we were just being lazy!

OP’s posts: |
BubblesBuddy Wed 19-Jun-19 17:57:33

Well I have looked at books and been shown the difference between a higher achiever making good progress and a lower achiever who is having extra help. However you cannot make the assessment decisions. You have to trust the assessment of the teachers and they should have some internal method of checking for accuracy, as far as possible. Where I was a governor, a computer program was used and this was interrogated for reports. However some teachers were cautious about whether pupils had met expectations and others were a bit lenient. You cannot afford the lenient and this should be picked up by SLT and other teachers should evaluate work within the dept to get consistency.

To be honest, the teachers are the professionals. I know Ofsted want schools to have an accurate view of themselves and as long as you ask searching questions, get answers and it’s minuted, I don’t believe Governors can do much more. If you found GCSE results, eg in Maths, were way below predictions, you then need to ask why this happened and expect greater accuracy (or better teaching) in future. This could be included in the SIP. Was it just y11 that was incorrect or has there been a failure of assessment for 5 years? Governors are there to hold SLT to account but you also have to trust them.

Walkaround Wed 19-Jun-19 18:46:54

handmadeitlove - if the advisers telling you this are your LA, they mean they are broke and can no longer afford to help you on this, so you need to pretend you have years' worth of expertise working in schools and interrogating data, like school improvement advisers are supposed to have... ie you now have the job of school improvement advisers, but without the pay or necessary experience. If your advisers are private companies, they are saying you should pay them to help you... You should also be comparing the school's data with that of similar schools - using, eg, ASP (Analyse School Performance) and FFT.
This link to an Education Endowment Foundation Guide for School Governors might help? See this link:

pamplemoussed Wed 19-Jun-19 23:32:18

I recommend you also benchmark your own data with other schools with similar intake using the data available publicly - check out

BubblesBuddy Thu 20-Jun-19 11:20:16

All schools are informed how to benchmark. However that’s not comparing school progress data in great detail. It’s very broad brush.

All schools have an Improvement Advisor but they work with the Head. They, in our LA (which is now a Trust) don’t meet with Governors. They do not, and never have, done the Governors job for them. Analysis of data is done primarily by the school. They then discuss this with the Governors and Improvement Advisor. Ofsted never comment that the LAs Improvement Advisor didn’t do the work! They will comment on the SLT and the Governors. The role of the Governors has not changed in recent times. They still need to know what is happening in their own school, set the ethos and monitor policies and the effectiveness of the SIP.

BubblesBuddy Thu 20-Jun-19 11:25:48

By the way, benchmarking gives you comparative data but no information about how to improve. Improvement is key which is why you have to drill down a bit more and look at what is needed in your own school and what the SLT recommend.

BlueChampagne Thu 20-Jun-19 12:25:10

How to improve is an operational matter rather than a strategic matter, so therefore for Head and SLT not governors. Governors can monitor, but we are not supposed to be education experts, merely to know our school.

noblegiraffe Thu 20-Jun-19 12:33:12

Ofsted have given up looking at internal data because they know how bollocks it all is.

Such a waste of your time.

BubblesBuddy Thu 20-Jun-19 14:22:47

Not exactly. They want to see: a copy of any school evaluation or equivalent and the school Improvement Plan and strategy and vision for the school. If SLT do not know how well pupils are doing and cannot inform Governors the SIP will be inaccurate and so will the strategy and vision. No, Governors should not triangulate data but they must know the strengths and weaknesses of the school in order to have any strategy for improvement and vision for the future. They will need to articulate this to Ofsted. Any Ofsted visit will expect SLT to back up their assertions and SIP with robust data and evidence. So although Ofsted don’t inspect the data, they expect schools to have it, make sure it’s accurate and use it effectively. Governors must know what the priorities are and why.

noblegiraffe Thu 20-Jun-19 15:14:03

What the OP is suggesting is way too much though. Predicted P8 and A8? Put that in the bin as a load of nonsense. Breakdown by PP? Ofsted have said that they don’t want ‘closing the gap’ data as the groups involved are too small to be statistically reliable.

Ofsted have said that 2-3 data drops per year is enough, and if data is collected then it should be for a purpose, not just to sit in a spreadsheet being endlessly analysed. If data collection is creating an unnecessary burden on teachers then the school can be downgraded.

Walkaround Thu 20-Jun-19 15:46:17

BubblesBuddy - in our LA, Governors have been asked to meet with the SIA, actually, as governors have a role in school improvement! When not there specifically to talk to the SIA, they are at least invited to attend the summary at the end. Governors should be confident that someone who knows what they are talking about is coming into school to go through all areas related to school improvement with school leaders to check they are working effectively and have robust evidence to support their judgements. Hence the very existence of SIAs - they have expertise which governors lack.

The EEF document I linked in my earlier post itself links to research which should help governors assess whether interventions proposed by their school are backed by evidence based research, so might help governors formulate questions and provide a bit of challenge.

Governors' official roles may not have changed, but it has been made crystal clear in our LA that current levels of school support cannot be maintained, which is a problem for Governors, because that support helps give them confidence that their strategic decisions are based on robust evidence.

Walkaround Thu 20-Jun-19 15:51:43

And yes, it has been made very clear by Ofsted that internal results data is no longer of any great interest to it. External data is still a matter of fascination, though, so evidence of some sort is still required to show the school knows its community, why it is getting the external results it is getting, what it is doing well and what it needs to do to improve!

BubblesBuddy Thu 20-Jun-19 17:24:58

Well slightly different ways of doing things but essentially Governors cannot do the job unless they have data and evidence of success or otherwise and this definitely includes how PP money is spent and whether it makes a difference for those DC. It is mentioned on virtually every Ofsted report where PP is significant income.

I have repeatedly said, lots of this work is for SLT and I also said they should produce an executive summary. The OP was worried about trusting data and her LA says Governors should triangulate data with their own evidence. I too think that’s too onerous in a secondary school and SLT should do the legwork. Some Governing Bodies might see the SIP, but some don’t. We certainly saw their reports. Some Governors gave their hand held more than others it would seem.

Our services are purchased from the Learning Trust and haven’t been provided by the LA for quite a few years now. Delivery of services varies from area to area and so does the way schools look at data and inform Governors. However it will still come back to how well do Governors know the school, what are the accurately identified challenges, how will they be addressed, what will success look like and how will progress be monitored. If Governors don’t do that then how can they work on strategy or plan?

Walkaround Thu 20-Jun-19 18:02:44

BubblesBuddy - yes, Ofsted is definitely still interested in how pupil premium money is spent and whether that is having any impact - that's where the EEF doc is useful, as if you don't have enough PP children for tour school's data to be meaningful, you can at least show the interventions you are using are backed up by research. As for hand holding - it is not hand holding for a school improvement adviser to quiz governors on what they are actually doing to help drive school improvement, it's checking they haven't just rubber stamped everything SLT wants to do and is doing. Nor is it hand holding to rely on someone with expertise to look through books and observe lessons to check whether school judgements are accurate.

BubblesBuddy Thu 20-Jun-19 23:19:12

I agree. Where I live schools buy that service. However I also expect SLT to be doing all of that anyway. I’m also very well aware of the most effective ways of spending PP money and of course Governors can query whether their expenditure is effective and its the best use of money. The Governors need to give this role to one Governor though. They get to grips with pp and all its angles and report to the GB. Governors, as I said earlier, can each do subjects and link them with the Improvement Plan.

I disagree about the SIP quizzing Governors. We have training on Inspections. We have self evaluation. We work out how we are going to evaluate our work and where the challenges are. I think though, we were already good. I’m not sure if schools who are struggling pay for more training for Ofsted prep. We know we don’t rubber stamp everything because we have evaluated how we challenge and what evidence we have for our judgements. We don’t have anyone else doing it.,

Walkaround Fri 21-Jun-19 05:51:41

BubblesBuddy - why should checking up on governors just be an oh bugger Ofsted might be visiting soon event any more than SIAs checking up on the HT and senior staff should be reserved for then? If a school is an LA maintained school, then the LA should be interested in whether governors are being of any use to school development. In my experience, governors do get pretty lazy if they think they have a good HT and SLT and had a good Ofsted last time.

Walkaround Fri 21-Jun-19 06:26:00

But yes, there is far too much that governors are expected to have a handle on for every governor to do everything. Collective responsibility doesn't mean every individual has to be an expert on everything and it would be very inefficient to try and work that way.

handmademitlove Fri 21-Jun-19 07:33:56

It is interesting to see how differentl areas work. We are expected to meet with advisor as governing body. We are rated 'good' by Ofsted. If we do not use internal data - as you say, the accuracy is questionable - then what other evidence can we use to show students are making adequate progress? Bearing in mind we are not allowed to simply take teachers word for It!

OP’s posts: |
Walkaround Fri 21-Jun-19 09:53:29

As you say, handmadeitlove, that must be harder in secondary than primary. Lots of primaries seem to use PiRA and PUMA tests to help provide evidence, and there is a lot more reliance on looking through children's work for evidence than there was now levels have vanished, which governors are not really equipped to do themselves, even if they have been shown what different standards of moderated work look like! I have no idea about secondaries. I would have thought you have to start with the public exam results - if they are as expected by the school and compare well to similar schools, then whatever internal systems the school is using are probably reasonably robust and reliable - but you also have to consider the impact on teacher workload in collecting the data.... If results are not as anticipated, you identify the areas that have not gone to plan and ask for more detail and justifications from there, and evidence of actions taken to deal with issues. You also ask how internal data is collected and collated. Every school does it differently these days, so you need to understand broadly what is being done in your school, why and how to be able to challenge it. Amateurs challenging experts' methods is what they seem to expect!

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