Stephen Hawking may have provided scientific explanations for the basic laws that govern the universe, but when it comes to pedagogy, EES for Schools has worked out the magic formula for creating an effective learning environment.
Here, Chris Smith, head of education technology and business development at EES for Schools, outlines how schools can become truly effective and explains the importance of data in achieving successful outcomes.
EES for Schools found that there are 25 characteristics that form the foundations of effective schools, separated into six key dimensions: learners, leadership, teaching, governance, business management, and people management. Data permeates every aspect of pedagogy, so having a data management system enables school stakeholders to recognise dimensions within the school that require improvement and, additionally, areas that are achieving positive educational results.
The teachings of pedagogy
Teachers are able to use data to help them develop professionally. The best teachers have a passion for learning and pass on their enthusiasm and dedication to their pupils, carrying out research into their subjects, for example, that enables them to create exciting and rich learning opportunities and tailor lessons accordingly. They are able to understand pupils’ individual learning requirements and monitor their progress and attainment using data, which, in turn, reveals areas where their teaching may need adapting or improving to ensure that all learners are understanding the lessons being taught, and, in turn, receiving a comprehensive education.
A distributed leadership model is used in a successful school to create a network rather than a hierarchy of leadership, empowering all staff to take responsibility. Curriculum leadership is also a crucial factor in the pedagogical equation, as leaders need to constantly monitor, review and update material and methods, so that the material is relevant to the academics, vocational and social success of all pupils.
Data gives school leaders a clear view of the whole school’s progress across the curriculum and the opportunity to analyse attainment by group, individual or class, meaning that transitions between key stages can be facilitated effectively, and pupils that are underperforming can be identified and assisted, if necessary.
The academic universe
A successful school is learner-centred, meaning the attitude of the institution and its staff place pupils at the very centre of the pedagogical universe, prioritising their wellbeing and safeguarding, and personal and educational development. Ownership of learning should be encouraged, as it gives pupils the self-motivation needed to achieve positive learning outcomes. In an effective school, regular discussions occur between teachers and pupils that use data to recognise achievements and enable learning targets to be agreed and set, based on the information collated by an effective data management system.
Governors play an important role in the education sphere, as they are responsible for raising the school’s standards alongside the senior leadership team, and therefore, must have a diverse range of members on the board. Effective governing bodies monitor the progression of pupils, the effectiveness of teachers, the quality of the curriculum and the school’s strategic direction, all of which can be facilitated using an efficient data management system.
A key priority for schools should be cost-effectiveness, especially as they are becoming increasingly autonomous. High-quality school business managers oversee the management of resources and make strategic decisions based on whole-school priorities, With a study commissioned by the DfE finding that data promotes teaching and learning by facilitating the more effective allocation of staff and resources, schools business managers need to be able to interpret the data, as it will enable them to make strategic, beneficial decisions, such as ensuring money is spent effectively.
It’s all relative
A school setting has a significant number of people involved with maintaining the school, and an even greater number of pupils. Therefore, everyone within the school needs managing appropriately. Schools must ensure that they have the resources and expertise needed to people manage efficiently. For example, effective performance management ensures staff members are allocated line manages, with whom they can identify their strengths and weaknesses, and then set clear objectives that need to be met to achieve pay progression. Data facilitates this process, as it’s a resource that enables staff to demonstrate how they have met their targets for the year, and it also means that those requiring improvement can be identified and provided with the appropriate support and training needed to achieve their objectives.
The six key dimensions that form an effective school need to be implemented and maintained successfully in order to achieve positive pedagogical results. All schools are data rich, and must utilise this resource, employing a data management provision to collate and manage results, as it provides tangible evidence of pupils’ attainment and the school’s progress. Ultimately, all schools want the same thing: for their pupils to achieve, both autonomously and academically. Successfully implementing the outlined pedagogical equation and utilising data will ensure that schools, and teaching staff, are not only efficient and truly effective, but, most importantly, are giving pupils the opportunity to succeed and achieve.