Drive by data – change
Drive by data – change

Drive by data – change

This term, my data colleague and I have been working hard on a new, more transparent student estimates and staff estimates system. Made more diffificult by high  student mobility and numerous boarding students without KS2 data. Now before we go on, student estimates and staff estimates are set on different FFT models, and with students we use the term targets (though we now that they are estimates).

As you can image staff were not lining up at the change door, saying, “Oh really, new student targets… that is just what we need. How can I help?” We knew we were moving the gate posts (not goal posts) and this understand that frequent causes previously has caused serious anxities frustrations. We knew that we needed to not only improve the system, but also earn the trust and confidence of our Senior Heads of Curriculum and teachers. We needed a consistent estimates system, one we could flex where we wanted it to, one that could be applied to all students. One that did not use student targets as a measure of teacher performance.We believe we have done that.

My colleague has written an impressive spreadsheet that takes our FFT data (choose your PA model), finds the subjects our students are studying and reports back their subject specific estimates. If Key Stage 2 data is not available, it then draws from their higher CAT score estimate. (This is important for us as we have a high transient student body and CAT test students on entry.) From these estimates the subject totals are calculated. Of course, totalled student estimates should not be used to set staff estimates, and we have been pained to stress that “student targets” are a teaching tool, a way to leverage student effort.

One in four students just like you, with you abilities, achieve these results.

Totalled student estimates are not a teacher performance measure. FFT write quite convincingly on this very topic. That said we do use department estimates PA 50 model to steer middle leader expectations. And I use “department estimates” purposefully, and not class estimates, as teaching is most definitely a collaborative effort. (Otherwise who would volunteer to teach the difficult groups?)

What is different this year is that all estimates were agreed with staff. Individual student targets could be uplifted, could be discussed, even lowered, however the aggregated grades had to be at least neutral. Of course borderline cases (D/C), or targets projecting only 2 levels of progress were reviewed forensically and we have come to the conclusion that we should target these students a grade C.

With student and staff estimate detached from one another, it been a far more collegiate, resulting in an 5A*-C inc EM uplift of 8%. That pleasantly surprised us and is a reflection of our staff backing our students abilities and an aspirational culture. Y10 and Y9 followed, again using the same PA model and the same uplift mechanisms. Currently, we are working on Y7 and Y8 targets, employing the first series of staff assessments to personalise the student targets. We know we my accelerate student progress in Y7 and Y8 and a one level target is being set. Again an aggregated model is being applied to creative and practical subjects following subject assessments.

What happens when you change the way an organisation operates?

I found a leadership fable and it seemed to sum up organisational change quite appropriately. Only please do not think for one minute I consider our staff to be cattle.

Dairy cows walk the same path, following each other. The grass wears away. The ground grows hard. They know where to go.

Everything runs smoothly for cows, as long as gates stay in the same place. But, move the gate and the lead cow will walk to the place where the old gate was. Drive her to the new gate and she’ll dig in, fearful to step through.

Cows run from new gates. There’s no path. It’s unfamiliar.

People are like cows looking at new gates, when it comes to opportunities.

We worked hard on the dialogue of change. We worked hard on our education programme.We paved the way for Senior Heads of Curriculum to lead their teams through a newly opened a new gate.


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