Data-driven success for every student

Aug. 3, 2015
Lee Waring

Lee Waring

Vice Principal, Fulwood Academy

In the weeks after my school received a ‘Special Measures’ judgement from Ofsted, I positioned data collection and tracking at the heart of my strategy to improve students’ achievement.

I drew up a six-point plan to ensure that we would become not only a data-rich school, but a data-intelligent one.

#1 Target setting

For too long targets had been too low. Targets for students were set by individual class teachers and were in no way aspirational, with many of our brightest students being targeted 'C' grades and some far lower than that. I introduced a new target-setting policy designed to instil greater aspirations for all students and staff, as well as enabling us to move awat from the damaging 'C' grade culture.

#2 Flight paths

The second half of this target-setting was to introduce a ‘flight path’ for each student. Students have a copy of their flight path stuck in the front of each exercise book and update this with their most recent results after each data capture. Progress may not be linear but this model did help students, staff and parents to identify under-performance and accelerate progress.

#3 Data collection and analysis

I increased the number of data captures from three to six to give us more opportunities to identify under-performance and act accordingly. I then designed a set of bespoke data collection and progress sheets which enabled teachers to instantly identify which students were on track to exceed, meet or fall below their flight path. These were then used to plan interventions where required.

#4 Departmental self-evaluation and action plans

We wanted to ensure that teachers were able to concentrate on teaching and learning while still monitoring students’ progress. Following each data capture the data was analysed centrally and a progress breakdown was provided for each class teacher and head of department. From this data under-performing students within each department were identified and planned for.

#5 Data-rich seating plans

Data-rich seating plans put students’ attainment and progress in the context of their own circumstances (SEND/EAL, pupil premium) and that of their peers. As a result, staff are required to consider how the seating of students can support teaching and learning to best effect. The seating plans provide another opportunity for professional dialogue between teachers, heads of department and the senior leadership team regarding student groupings.

#6 Progress walls

Progress Wall charts displayed in each classroom displaying student progress were implemented to involve students in the progress discussion and to raise aspirations and expectations on a subject-by-subject basis. Again, these are centrally prepared to allow teachers to focus on teaching. We have found that putting the focus on progress rather than attainment has created a really positive culture of aspiration and healthy competition between students.

In their recent inspection, Ofsted reported: "The senior leadership team is skilful and cohesive...Their development and intelligent use of effective data systems across the academy mean that their understanding of its strengths and weaknesses is comprehensive and accurate. Together, they monitor every aspect of the academy’s work and take well-informed decisions to secure improvement.”

Data has shown itself to be a crucial part of our school’s development – enabling senior and middle leaders to improve student outcomes. More importantly, there has been a complete culture shift toward progress over attainment, accountability and high expectations which will have a long-term positive impact on students at the academy.


This article originally appeared on the website of the Ambition School Leadership. In March 2019 the Institute for Teaching merged with Ambition School Leadership to form Ambition Institute.

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