Having worked as a teacher and middle leader in a busy primary school, I have seen firsthand the positive impact that effective use of student data has on outcomes for children - at an individual, class, team, and school wide level.
Achievement throughout the primary years, and supporting learners to understand the stepping stones of progress, sets the stage for future educational endeavours, instilling confidence and motivation. It also lays the groundwork for lifelong learning, shaping well-rounded individuals capable of adapting to an ever-changing world.
In this blog, I was fortunate to connect with Raewyn Saunders, Principal of Fendalton Open Air School (Christchurch, New Zealand), to discover how the Fendalton team has harnessed Hero to better capture achievement data, create visibility and inform practice, and truly realise their school’s vision of “Inspiring Learners for Life”.
“The reasons for using achievement data in Hero are multiple. Firstly, it allows us to address concerns about specific children in the here and now. Secondly, identified trends can inform resource allocation for areas of need, influencing decisions throughout the entire school. Finally, there’s all the accountability aspects to consider - both schools and boards have to be accountable that we are demonstrating progress, and that childrens’ achievements are being statistically measured so that we can look back and track progress to see the patterns and trends over time."
Increased Visibility Supports Effective Leadership
One of the key features of Hero that assists school leaders in capturing the progress and achievement of learners is the Insights functionality. Comprehensive data can be viewed and analysed, enabling informed decision-making and deeper understanding of individual and collective performance. Its wide range of metrics can be used by school leaders to effectively meet reporting requirements, as well as to guide staff and inform practice - identifying areas of strength, as well as areas that may require improvement.
The leadership team at Fendalton recognise the importance of thoroughly analysing student achievement data. By investing time in collaborative sessions, together they look at the overall data using the milestones and expectations in Insights - allowing them to drill down into the progress of individuals using the visual Progress Dots. Their philosophy is that the power of data is in the dialogue that is had, and the wider discussions that take place surrounding it:
“As a leadership team, we devote dedicated, quality time to pull the data together. This allows us to unpack the data collectively and gain a comprehensive understanding. I want to know about each individual child - we’ve got a board that asks deep questions, and I want to be able to answer these. The more that we present well-prepared and thorough information to the board, the higher the standard of their inquiries become, leading to a truly deep understanding of students’ progress and achievements in our school.”
By developing a shared understanding of the unique needs of each student, the team is able to implement tailored strategies to foster continued growth and success.
Building a Rich Picture of Progress Over Time
Hero gives school leaders the ability to see and track the progress of learners over time, so that they can analyse trends and quickly identify if learning has plateaued or become more challenging.
“One of Hero’s key advantages is that it is cumulative. It allows us to observe patterns and trends over time, enabling us to identify whether a child is progressing well or striking difficulty. Hero’s ability to understand each individual learner is really one of its most powerful aspects, because that’s actually why we’re here.”
By utilising Hero, leaders can create learner groups to help address specific needs. Teachers and learning assistants can be involved in planning strategies for these groups, and effective communication can be fostered with each other through a dedicated Learning Support page.
The groups can then be closely followed using the Insights feature, allowing leaders to monitor their progress and track the effectiveness of the strategies implemented. Teachers are able to easily share the learning and progress of these children with their families, strengthening home-school partnerships, and facilitating open communication to ensure holistic support throughout the child’s learning journey.
“For me, our purpose and the reason we're here is to make sure our children are making progress. We've got a responsibility to know our learners really well, and make sure they're all making the best progress that they can, whilst always considering their unique and diverse learning styles. Through the insights that we gain, we're drilling down and ensuring that we look beyond whether they are below or above an expectation, but asking the questions…What are we actually doing? What actions can we take? What initiatives can we put in place to try and make a difference?”
Enabling Teachers to Make a Difference
Hero provides teachers with access to valuable insights at all times, and this information can be used to effectively plan for individual learners, classes, and teams. Schools can prioritise looking at achievement data by dedicating time in staff meetings for teams of teachers to review performance and achievement.
“The risk is that a lot of data can sit solely with leadership, but the problem with that is that actually everyone should have ownership of it. So, there's a few things we do to ensure that everyone is engaging with the data and recognising the significance of it for individual learners. Teachers need to know the trends happening within a school, and they need to take personal reward when they start to see improvement or progress among the children that they have been working with.”
Releasing teachers, together, allows them time to collaboratively assess the programmes for their teams, classes, target groups, and individuals. In doing so, this enables them to plan the best possible routes forward, based on identified needs.
“We allocate quality time together as a leadership team to consolidate and pull the data together. We release the leadership team to then share with the wider staff, asking three questions: What is happening? What's not happening? And what are our next steps? But it’s important we provide opportunities for teachers to have that time to think together. To account for this, the way we do it is by employing a shared CRT (Classroom Release Time), where teams have quality time to collaboratively analyse and review the data, and think about the interventions and actions that are really going to make that difference.”
It has been super to see how the effective use of Hero's reporting and data analysis tools has created visibility and supported impactful practices at Fendalton Open Air School. With comprehensive insights on hand, school leadership is able to make informed decisions and facilitate collaborative, data analysis sessions. The result is a deep understanding of individual students' progress, that supports tailored strategies for continued growth - transforming the reporting process and allowing learners to thrive!
Carolyn Silby brings 23 years of education experience spanning across all primary levels.
Having worked within school leadership teams, Carolyn is well-equipped with the expertise to help school leaders understand the needs and progress of their learners. Now part of the Hero team, Carolyn enjoys working alongside schools to help them achieve the best possible outcomes for their children.
Learn more about Carolyn’s unique journey through education: https://bit.ly/42P3ets