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dataandcloudcomputing

Introducing the all new school’s dashboard.

Gone is the bland summary page, full of those statements of strengths and weaknesses, that had been automatically generated by a computer whose analysis of key data was about as sensitive and nuanced as one of Deep Thought’s farts. Rest easy, knowing that the school performance summary, that had for so long, befuddled governors as they pretended to understand what it all meant so they could challenge the content of your school improvement plan, is no more. Rejoice in the knowledge that Inspectors will now have to go without the vanilla flavoured amuse-bouche that used to whet their appetite (and pre-determine their opinions) before they began a section 5. Because everything has changed. We are entering a world of full disclosure. A data-set that has something for everyone.

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But why the overhaul? Well, besides the fact that too many people were beginning to become familiar with the dashboard (something we never like to happen) the old dashboard was just too limiting. By only gathering information from schools’ contextual data and their national end of key stage results, followed by a cross-referencing with the national picture, we were only ever able to provide a summary of academic performance: a field of vision we now believe to be too narrow in order to truly judge a school. As the department for education grows so should the data we produce. Plus, what with national tests suffering from cheating – sorry, over-aiding – and some spectacularly incompetent marking, both adding to a general sense of apathy for rigorous testing of knowledge (damn hippies) the dashboard itself was looking as relevant and interesting as the launch of the new Bake Off. The revamped dashboard is an altogether different beast that collates data from every faction of your school community.

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This dashboard is not just about what the schools have done. It is about what everyone else is also doing and how that impacts on the school’s capacity to perform. Nobody is safe. Using the latest cyber, and drone, technology we are finally able to retrieve evidence from the whole community and feed it into a complex matrix that will help Ofsted to determine how effective a school really is. But this dashboard is not just for Ofsted. It will enable everyone to judge…whilst also being judged themselves.

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Let’s start with the parents. For some time, we have been judging the school’s effectiveness in closing the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. This, it turns out, is only one tiny part of the picture. We are now able analyse parent attitudes and actions towards their child’s school and determine if the parents themselves are a help or hindrance to a school’s success. One of the ways in which we do this is by monitoring social media and cross referencing this with an annual freedom of information request for the number of times the parents have discussed the same issues with the school. If parents are openly negative about the school on social media but do not seek to engage with the school then they will be judged to have a negative impact on the school’s capacity to raise standards.

For a parent to be judged as having a positive impact on the school’s capacity to raise standards then, although they may not always necessarily agree with all school decisions, they will always engage with the school respectfully, and through the appropriate channels, and will most likely support the school ethos. Schools will be asked to keep a permanent record of their top ten parents and carers who they believe to be their most positive and negative influencers. This information will be available on the dashboard which schools must publish on their websites.

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During an inspection, the Inspectors will expect to speak to these key parents that will, alongside additional data collected during the visit, enable them to make a judgement of the school’s parent pull. This is a measure that seeks to determine by what degree the school is enabled by the parent community. A negative pull score may indicate that a school faces a statistically significant negative mind-set challenge from its community that may hinder its performance. A positive pull score may indicate that the parents are fully behind the school and work with them in a supportive and/or challenging role. On the dashboard, a school’s effectiveness in other areas of the inspection framework will be off-set by their parent pull score. For example, a good performing school with a negative parent pull score will likely have a leadership and management judgement rated higher than a similarly, or lower, performing school, but who have a positive parent pull score. Confused? Good. Additionally, the dashboard will make very clear whether the parent community are outstanding or good contributors to the school’s success or whether they require improvement. If the parents are judged to be inadequate the governors and PTA will be expected to put in place a parent improvement plan within three weeks with some parents being excluded from social media until sufficient improvements have been made.

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It’s not just parents that will have a new section on the dashboard. Using drone technology, it will be possible to garner an overview of acceptable staff behaviour and attitudes within the school. The staff drone will record on-site conversations between teachers and support staff and then analyse them against a series of DfE approved vocabulary sets and professional standards keywords. This data will be extrapolated to provide an overall level of in-school professionalism score that will be used when judging the effectiveness and genuineness of staff. Any anomalies or spikes in undesirable words/phrases will provide Inspectors with a line of enquiry during the inspection process. Senior leaders will also be given a test where they will be expected to identify teachers in at least eight out of the ten most common conversations had between members of staff. This score, as well as the actual in-school professionalism score of the staff, will be available on the dashboard and emailed to parents one day before an inspection.

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The dashboard will also be able to identify the professionalism, as well as the work-life balance, of staff outside of school. Cyber-monitoring of all teachers’ computers and mobile devices will be able to detect if they are engaging in online or social media activities in a positive or corrosive manner. Before an inspection, the governors will be given an electronic dossier of the online content created by members of staff and they will be required to formally respond to Inspectors in a manner that is judged to be proportional and appropriate. Failure to do so will impact on the Inspectors’ judgement on governors’ knowledge of the school. The dashboard will publish an appropriate range of online content generated by staff compete with profile pics. Any anonymous users of social media will not be formally identified but, by then, it will probably be too late.

Do you want to………Ctrl Alt Delete…………..Ctrl Alt Delete…………SHUT DOWN…………………………..SHUT DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The final push

Speaking as a man I can confidently say that term six is a lot like going through childbirth for a second time. You recall that it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park the last time…but surely it wasn’t as bad as this!

It’s just so busy. I mean, like, crazy busy! And it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Now, that should mean that it’s going to be over soon but my list of ‘stuff that needs to get done’ doesn’t seem to be reducing as swiftly as the days are disappearing.

I know that this is true for every person working in schools at the moment but, trust me, it’s especially bad for me this year. I promise you that I have it worse. If there was a competition for how busy we all are I would definitely win it but I wouldn’t be able to attend the award ceremony to pick up my prize because, well, I’m just too darn busy.

What with staying up all night to get the SATs results the second they’re released, finishing the appraisal cycle for teachers, attending all the Year 6 performances, reviewing the SEF, writing a final head’s report, reading and commenting on 420 children’s reports, transition week, meeting the new Reception parents, FGB, the summer fair (where, this year, I am literally getting taped up to a wall!) attending the leavers’ assembly, cheering through the sports day, preparing and attending the review meeting with the local authority, going on camp, and, meeting with parents who don’t want their kid to be taught by a job-share next year, this term puts the ‘if anyone bemoans teachers having six weeks off in the summer I’ll punch them right in the sangria’ into busy.

On top of that my school is undergoing significant curriculum changes next year. To cut a long story short we’re throwing away the rule book and running a subject specialism model. This involves teachers not only having their own registration class for most of the week but also having to teach every child in the school their subject specialism for two days a week. It might not sound like fun but we’re all very excited. It has however tripled the amount of work that needs doing to be September ready. So, before we’ve had time to be exhausted from all the usual term 6 hoopla we’ve also been writing schemes of work, thrashing out the logistical nightmare that is a subject specialism timetable, presenting the idea to parents, assuring governors that our standards aren’t now going to disappear and carrying out trial days followed by immediate reviews.

On top of that…I’m leaving my school at the end of the term. I’m handing in my pass and heading to a new school and a new challenge. Hurray me…but blimey, that don’t half add to the workload. I’m normally pretty nonchalant about trying to get everything ‘done’ by the end of the academic year. I usually operate on a more existential level safe in the knowledge that school development has no knowledge of the summer holidays. Some things will happen by the end of the year, others will quite happily wait until September. But now….I want to get it all done!

So how, dear reader, does one cope with these pressures? Especially at a time when your reserves are pretty low? How do you look ahead to next week’s set of deadlines without bursting into tears? How do you enjoy being a visible Headteacher when you only have the time to be in your office getting stuff done?

My advice? Go with the flow. Accept the fact that a ‘strategic workflow’ (or peace and quiet as I like to call it) is going to be an absent friend for the foreseeable future. You can do this because you know that you have successfully carried out 99% of these tasks before. Admittedly, you may not have completed them in such a concentrated time-span before but you DO know what to do and you CAN do it. So, allow yourself to be buffeted around like a pinball, as you bounce from event to event, safe in the knowledge that your performance will be consistent and more than adequate.

Also, forgive yourself if a day swallows you whole. Don’t worry that nobody saw you or got to speak to you for the whole of yesterday afternoon. Chances are, they didn’t notice because, like you, they were too busy trying to get through their mountain of summer-term-stuff. If they did notice then they either have a highly astute level of emotional intelligence which means they should at least offer you a cup of tea, or, it means that they’re not working hard enough.

So, close your eyes, grit your teeth, and get ready for the next day. And remember, just like when your giving birth: breathe.

Bring me the head of @oldprimaryhead1

Dear National College (if that is indeed your real name),

I am writing to inform you of the resignation of @oldprimaryhead1 as a national leader of education.

It would appear that you have already written to him to outline your fears that he no longer fits the bill as a national leader and, I must say, I couldn’t agree with you more. One of the strengths required of a true leader is to make knee-jerk reactions based on an extremely limited set of data. The fact that he didn’t telegram you (your favourite method of communication I believe, second only to carrier pigeon) the moment his results crashed through his letterbox is a clear signal that this guy ain’t got the chops to be a national leader. A real national leader would have handed in their NLE dressing gown and matching sash before the results had even come through. They would have smelt it in the air. They would have known how the unknown thresholds and secret scoring system of last year’s SATs was going to impact on their school and they would have acted accordingly: told you about it rather than sort it out. The fact that @oldprimaryhead1 (like the rest of us peasants) didn’t know what the heck was going on with Gibb’s quiz last year is nothing short of a national disgrace.

Secondly, why has he not turned the results around already? He should have been working day and night to get better results and he should have sent you weekly data updates to show you that he was still worthy of your endorsement. Instead, he has chosen to spurn you with his blatant disregard of your narrow-minded criteria and concentrated on ‘other stuff’ to do with his school. What a chump.

There is also the matter that he has been supporting others. And by that I don’t mean poncing into other people’s schools telling them that ‘marking in this way is what you need to do’ whilst declaring ‘I’m an NLE don’t you know?’ like some demented cat in a hat. Instead, he has chosen to quietly support others with no fanfare. This is unacceptable from a national leader of education.

I have also heard that he has himself received support and advice from others. As if peer support is some kind of reciprocal process? I mean, take me for example: I know my place. Don’t get me wrong, I lord it up at my own school, but the minute another Head walks in who is a) from a better/richer/tougher/larger/smaller/different school, b) is wearing the special national leader hat, c) has a better class of beard than me, I immediately defer to them. That’s the way it should be. And he has been engaging with other school leaders as an equal. I’ve read his blogs. He’s even taken other people’s ideas and not had the common decency to pass them off as his own!

In short, I am glad you have requested that he prove himself to you. And I’m particularly​ pleased that you’ve asked him to do so in a 1000 word essay that is only concerned with SATs data. Ofsted may be reforming but thank the Lord you are not. You shouldn’t have to listen to a load of other reasons justifying his status that are all tediously linked to leadership in the real world; you’re far too busy (probably, I guess? You’re not actually bothering to talk to him or visit his school so you must be doing something).

No, the world of national leadership will be better off without @oldprimaryhead1. Without him we can carry on treating all those accredited leaders with the true honour and respect they deserve.

Keep up the good work fellas.

From his sworn enemy,

@theprimaryhead