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Case studies

Jo Hockton, the data manager at Sponne School

Sponne case study - Outstanding....the first 12 months with GO 4 Schools

Sponne School is a larger-than-average outstanding secondary school with 1280 students on the school roll. Jo Hockton, the data manager at Sponne School and is the lead person for the GO 4 Schools Hub School at Sponne.

Life before GO 4 Schools

Sponne School used Facility CMIS with e-portal, plus a bespoke add-on for behaviour tracking, plus Vivo rewards. Data was exported from the MIS into Excel for analysis using lots of template spreadsheets and macros. The school ran a weekly review cycle, focusing on one year group each week, every cohort had at least a termly review of data. Years 7-10 and Year 12 had 3 review cycles per year, and Years 11 and 13 had 5 review cycles per year to track performance.

Typically, as Data Manager, Jo would spend a week on each review cycle and analysing data to produce key statistics within 48 hours followed by full data reports for the school. More detailed analysis of focus groups would follow. Within this timeframe no strategic commentary could be made or the data rigorously tested.

Why purchase GO 4 Schools

Sponne School needed a more timely data package to solve their analysis issues and they considered a range of software on the market. The final decision to purchase GO 4 Schools was made for a number of key reasons:

  • Parental access to develop their engagement with student data.
  • Transparent statistics and data analysis for all staff.
  • Attendance and behaviour recording and statistics - not just assessment.
  • A one-stop solution for the teaching staff.
GO 4 Schools was purchased in April 2014 for full implementation in September 2014. The full suite of modules were purchased.

Implementation model

The school opted for a centrally-managed set up, with training and support sessions used to disseminate information to key staff. Jo initially mapped out the implementation of GO 4 Schools - to engage all staff - across two terms. Half-hour, after-school training sessions were delivered during the set-up period so staff were familiar with the layout and key functionality of each module.

Staff training

A whole training day in September was given to supporting and training staff on all aspects of GO 4 Schools. During the first week of use, the admin team were made available to support teachers in the classroom and during drop-in sessions to build complete confidence in the system.

Markbooks

Markbooks were set up to focus on classroom-based learning. All subjects were required to have two, key, evidenced-based assessments per term (i.e. 12 per academic year). The assessment methodology, e.g. tests, projects, essays, questioning, could be chosen by the head of subject to include, but needed to be recorded in GO 4 Schools with PIN marking (positive, improvements and next steps). This focused on the quality and types of assessments used, which led to an improved and more consistent approach.

During the first year, markbooks in some subjects evolved beyond the core (12-assessment) model. In the second year, subject leaders will have more autonomy to extend their markbooks to include additional, 'zero-weighted' assessment information. There is no collation of data on paper: all 'meaningful' assessments are recorded centrally in GO 4 Schools.

Behaviour

Set-up required to match Sponne School's existing behaviour policy, using GO 4 Schools brought greater consistency in the use of sanctions and rewards across the school. The module has been of particular use where students have higher-level behaviour issues; the school has been cited as using good practise by a range of external agencies when using the student behaviour print-out in CAF meetings to show both positive and negative events.

Parental Engagement

Sponne School turned on the Parental Engagement module in September 2014, four months after adopting GO 4 Schools. The school was extremely pro-active to engage parents. In the first 12 months they:

  • Wrote to all parents to inform them of the system and the range of data they could access.
  • Had a member of the admin team available at parents' evenings to promote GO 4 Schools and help parents log in.
  • Contacted parents without e-mail addresses on record each time progress reports were due to be published to raise awareness of the benefits of the system.
  • Had form tutors contact parents to inform them of the information available in GO 4 Schools.
They now hold parental email addresses for 95% of students, up from their start point of 60%.

At parents' evenings, teachers ask students to log into GO 4 Schools to see the data on their account to check they have access to GO 4 Schools and understood what the data was telling them about their progress, behaviour and attendance. No datasheets are printed out.

Best practise model for implementation used by Sponne School

Data management

Sponne School use FFTA to target set across the school and then allow teachers to adjust these targets to ensure they are challenging. The combination of external target, teacher target and target grades in GO 4 Schools supports this very easily. KS2 data is uploaded as fine decimal levels. All of this key data, including snapshot data from GO 4 Schools, is backed up into SIMS Assessment Manager.

The Progress 8 statistics enabled the a view of the slots filled for exam-entry changes to be made, particularly for students studying only 8 subjects and at risk of non-completion of courses.

GO 4 Schools 'Student postcards' have been used creatively to quickly produce: Progress boards of key intervention groups, Canteen passes, and exam ID cards (to meet the new rules of student identification for external exams).

Attendance data is now easy to access for all staff and they are not reliant on the attendance manager for weekly reports. Sponne School utilises a GO 4 Schools 'custom focus group' to quickly monitor key students' attendance patterns across lessons to support rapid intervention.

Homework module:
The benefits they are excited to see include:

  • Cost savings: Less printing of worksheets, bringing huge cost savings across faculties.
  • Mobile access: Worksheets converted to PDFs can be viewed and printed from mobile phones at home.
  • Consistency: Improved monitoring of setting and completion of independent learning across the school.

Key ideas

The key factors in Sponne School's Case Study that have facilitated their successful adoption of GO 4 Schools are:

  • A Planned implementation with key personnel identified to complete set up.
  • Initial training backed up by 'Little and often' training - drip feeding training and familiarisation across the school with all staff.
  • A clear strategic plan for data needs and assessment requirements.
  • Persistence, with teachers, parents and students to encourage engagement.
If you require advice and support of an implementation model that will suit the needs of your schools contact us on 01223967556.


Thurston case study - growth and development in partnership

Thurston Community College is a thriving, mixed 11-18 comprehensive school, situated four miles outside of Bury St Edmunds and serving a large rural catchment area. With around 180 staff and more than 1,800 students, Thurston Community College is now based on two sites, the Thurston Campus and the Thurston Sixth, Beyton Campus, which are separated by a distance of 2 miles. The school is the biggest school in West Suffolk and has one of the largest Sixth Forms in the county. As a community college with a strong emphasis on links with the wider community and partnership with feeder primary schools, it is constantly aiming to provide continuity, progression and the highest standard of education for all students.

Chris Cassidy, Vice Principal and Mark Blenkin Assistant Principal at Thurston are the lead teachers for GO 4 Schools and the GO 4 Schools Hub School status at Thurston Community College.

Life with GO 4 Schools

Thurston Community College use SIMs as their main management information system and prior to using GO 4 Schools all data was exported from SIMs into Excel spreadsheets for analysis and to generate reports. This would be managed by the data manager and senior leaders. In 2009 Thurston purchased GO 4 Schools, at this time the product was in its infancy and consisted of simplified markbooks and school statistics.

As GO 4 Schools has developed and new modules come online, Thurston has purchased these and developed their use to embed within the school. The school currently uses Markbooks, Progress Reports, Attendance Teir 3, Behaviour, Parental Engagement and Homework modules.

Initial Implementation

Starting with markbooks, Thurston implemented a summative grade entry system in line with the legacy approach to reporting at the college. All assessment outcomes were entered using grades so there was a lack of underlying detail about the formative experience for students and the reliability of teacher judgements. This was unsatisfactory particularly in curriculum areas where improvement in progress needed to be focused. Meaningful intervention was more difficult to target in terms of specific student learning.

The markbooks set up by middle leaders were also very varied in approach across 25 departments; this was linked to the confidence in the use of GO 4 Schools and setting up assessment frameworks. However the school wanted their subject leaders to gain familiarity, explore and be creative with the potential of using electronic markbooks.

The initial set up was done cautiously by Thurston Community college, first starting with teachers sharing markbooks and data becoming transparent across the school. The school waited 18 months to ensure they had confidence in the data captured before giving parents access to markbook data using the Parental engagement module.

As confidence grew and parental communication improved, the school added additional modules enabling a 360 degree view of student progress, behaviour and attendance. The convenience of information online for parents as well as issuing progress reports was of real benefit to the school community.

Moving forwards

In 2015 Thurston Community College became a GO 4 Schools Hub School; as a longer term user of the system they had already engaged with our development team about specific functionality and were using a wide range of system features.

This also aligned with the school reviewing their use of GO 4 Schools and how they could create further improvement ensuring they we utilising the full range of functionality rather than remaining with the same entrenched patterns of management and use across the school. Chris and Mark led on a new administration structure and use of GO 4 Schools that was a better fit to the schools current needs and data requirements.

Administration structure

Chris reviewed the requirements of the administration of GO 4 Schools at Thurston Community College alongside how parental contact is managed, from this a plan was developed to name a 'Lead Person' for each module, ensuring that the data manager disseminated key new developments from the newsletter to those who need to know.

The structure for the administration of GO 4 Schools at Thurston is below:

Each member of school Leadership also was assigned a member of the associate staff who is responsible for the day to day management of the data in GO 4 Schools. This model also spreads the workload as there is an increase in 'GO 4 Schools' experts across the college who are able to respond to individual training needs of staff across the school.

This also enables the school to have a coherent approach to releasing new functionality to parents and students i.e. Formative Assessments, this also enables a greater management of parent expectations. Parents also have one point of contact at the school who delegates the information accordingly, this ensures responses to parents are prompt and responded to appropriately. Also the data team have a calendar of ongoing work to ensure the data in GO 4 Schools is accurately maintained and ready for teachers at the point of use, for example timely examination results.

Current use and set up

Thurston moved from a Middle Leader control of markbooks to a model where portions of markbooks are dictated centrally while retaining some individual subject character reflecting the very different approaches to assessment across the curriculum. The motivation for the SLT overview approach to markbook set up was to develop a greater consistency across curriculum areas and Key stages; they wanted to ensure that the information received by parents was consistent across year groups to support parental understanding of their child's progress and life at school across each year group. Keeping a similar view in subjects and removing the mystery of where assessment marks were generated from:

  • Using a current versus a Minimum expected outcome.
  • Showing evidence of student performance alongside underlying grades.
  • Ensuring integrity of the data by using it as a discussion point with students.
  • Closer links to student and intervention requirements.
  • Senior Leadership evaluation tool to have insight into T&L practise across the college to track and drill down. This creates questions where the answers can then be evidence based.
  • Accountability is visible; teaching staff cannot ignore the information, no more walking past the issue, but stopping and tackling head on.
  • Shared data as teachers are invited to collaborate and contribute.

Modules

Parental Engagment

The thrust behind Thurston reviewing their implementation of GO 4 Schools was to change their approach to parental communication using the following philosophy:

  • Transparent data that enables GO 4 Schools to be an 'open window' that brings parental conversations to the school.
  • Parents are 'wowed' by the information and have a greater understanding of what their children are studying in school.
  • Teaching and Learning is impacted because parents are more informed so attend parents meetings with more specific questions regarding progress

Attendance

Mark Blenkin has also reviewed the processes for attendance data, with access to attendance statistics in tier 1 the school already has 'live' data ready for analysis. Thurston Community College used to have one attendance administrator taking 3-4 hours per day to collate information, this now takes 3 staff 30 minutes each. No attendance reports are printed and produced as all the college's relevant information is provided by GO 4 Schools.

Focus groups are tracked on a weekly basis and the Local Authority EWO has been added to the college's Active Directory so they can view attendance data and arrange attendance meeting between groups of schools more effectively. This also allows the support of external providers to be recorded and the effectiveness reviewed in a partnership approach to intervention with home and college.

Behaviour

Thurston utilise the behaviour module so this information can be viewed alongside attainment and attendance data. Teachers use 'School notes' to record details of events but home notes are not used by teaching staff. Using these notes allows the college to keep a record of behaviour conversations with students.

Homework

This is the most recent module purchased by Thurston and the college is currently trialling the use of the module with Year 7 students. Teachers are eager to set up and use based on the power of communication with parents through GO 4 Schools.

Key ideas

Using GO 4 Schools has supported the use of data across Thurston community college in many ways, the main effects Chris wanted to emphasise are:

  • All staff at all levels can see clues to potential weaknesses and strengths, these act as prompts for action, making the college proactive not reactive.
  • Time saving as teachers do not need to prepare data in a specific way.
  • Working with 'good' data enables flexibility and more focused intervention.
  • The process is a 'quality assurance' process not a 'quality control' process giving the college community confidence in its data.

"GO 4 Schools is not the answer, it is a reflection that allows you to consider key questions and then think about how to move forward. It is the democratisation of information which empowers decision makers across the learning community."
Chris Cassidy, Vice Principal, Thurston Community College.