The education landscape in the UK is rich. It consists of 8.9 million pupils nationally and 1.4 million pupils with SEND. This proportion of the pupil population requires further attention from educators to ensure they have the best outcomes.
Out of the 1.4 million pupils with SEND, 295,000 have enhanced health and care plans (EHCPs) and 132,000 are in special schools.
Educators are tasked with working through observations and assessments to understand the best ways of supporting SEND pupils and unlocking their full potential.
Using data to log these observations in a structured way can help to better create and visualise teaching and support plans for these students.
When considering what should be in place to support SEND students, there are four categories of need that encompass the diverse characteristics that these students may have:
- Communication and Interaction: Autism, Asperger’s, communication difficulties
- Cognition and Learning: Learning difficulties, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia
- Social, Emotional & Mental Health Needs: ADHD, attachment disorder, anxiety, or depression
- Sensory & or Physical Needs: Visual impairment, hearing impairment, physical disability
Data can be used to understand the bigger picture of the provisions in place, mapping crossovers in needs and emphasising where core support should come in.
Then, it can be considered whether the provisions that support these students are adequate.
The Swiss Cottage School
Swiss Cottage is an outstanding school in the London Borough of Camden, accommodating children aged 2-19 with diverse learning, emotional, behavioural and communication difficulties, and those on the Autistic Spectrum Continuum (ASC) .
The school strives to improve:
- The emotional development of students
- The behavioural development of students
- The cognitive development of students
- The social development of students
Swiss Cottage School was dissatisfied with their existing Management Information System (MIS) due to very poor analysis and reporting capabilities, which put them in a frustrating position with governors and various government departments.
Because of the inadequate quality of the existing MIS database, the school had purchased several other software packages to compensate for system shortfalls. This left users with conflicting information, duplicate data entry and inconsistent reporting, consequently putting put a strain on the workforce.
The school needed a system that would revolutionise its reporting, analysis and internal processes.
They migrated to SIMS. SIMS is education software that currently operates within 21,000 schools worldwide.
Swiss Cottage School was able to remove the overlapping systems and work from a single, integrated database of student and staff information.
There was a significant and immediate improvement in data input and analysis, providing staff with the freedom to teach. The system was faster and more reliable, both technically and for data integrity.
A smooth host for data is essential but the use of that data is equally important.
Data is useful for gaining clarity on how the school system is working for SEND students. Datasets can provide a clear visual representation of any gaps in support provisions and stunts in students’ academic, emotional, or physical progress.
The data can also inform areas that teachers, teaching assistants, support staff and governors need to further their training. This can be seen when the data flags up key areas that multiple students are falling behind on.
How to Make the Data Useful
Schools should have a wide range of data on their students which includes assessment data, pastoral data and SEN profiles for those students that require it.
- Pupil Premium Support Impact
- Attendance and absences
- Personal Development
- Child in need/child protection
- SEN Assessments
- SEN Support
- Therapeutic Provision
However, this data needs to be presented in a way that is useful for teachers and teaching assistants to develop learning resources that are personalised to their students.
The Swiss Cottage school worked to find a way of incorporating this data into the core skills they want their students to develop at the school. These skills are:
- Task switching
- Mental flexibility
- Verbal reasoning
- Problem solving
- Working memory
The school use Evidence for Learning to merge data with better teaching.
Evidence for Learning supports an inquiry-based approach to education and provision, that allows all stakeholders in a child or young person to gather photo and video evidence quickly and easily, linked to the individual’s learning goals as well as any key skills frameworks.
All evidence gathered is automatically organised by the Evidence for Learning app and readily available on-demand to anyone in the school.
It allows the school to manipulate the resource so that their data lives through it. The tool supports real-time deep dives into aspects of a school’s curriculum.
The school can see how individual learners are experiencing the curriculum and how teaching is being personalized to support the learner’s needs.
It acts as a platform to develop and demonstrate connected practice which links curriculum and assessment. It also can:
- Demonstrate impact and show clearly what learners can do because of the curriculum, pedagogy, and support
- Evidence, assess and track progress against individual targets related to EHC plans using the school’s own assessment model and schemes
- Automatically link evidence, achievements, outcomes, and judgements
- Tools for working with and assessing the 5 areas of engagement in line with new DfE requirements and guidance
- Better engage and involve parents in their child’s learning and development
If used properly, data can be an invaluable tool for improving the quality of teaching and support in schools, especially for children with SEND.
The Management Information System in place is at the heart of data management in a school. The Swiss Cottage school are an example of why changing MIS can be beneficial.
Tools such as Evidence for Learning make data more accessible for all members of the school community. It also allows parents to add to the valuable dataset so that the data becomes even richer.
 Patel, Vijita. 2021. Principal and National Education Leader, Swiss Cottage School
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