Governors and data

19/11/2014 16:03:01 | with 0 comments

One of the best things about being NGA’s Research and Information Officer is that I get to work with our partner organisations on all types of exciting projects. This is rewarding in its own right, but the other week I got to enjoy an extra perk when I was invited to attend the E-learning Awards by NGA’s good friend the Fischer Family Trust (FFT). FFT, along with iflourish, were nominated for an award for their Governor Dashboard e-learning tool in the category “Excellence in the production of learning content – third sector”. The team had already gone through a demanding selection process to get to the nominee stage, which was an achievement in itself. Nonetheless, we were all crossing our fingers when our category came up, and were delighted when Alan “Voice of the Balls” Dedicoat announced the Governor E-learning was the Silver Award winner. I won’t go as far as comparing our reaction to that of winning the lottery itself, but there was definitely a lot of cheering coming from table 42.

The FFT Governor Dashboard was one of the first projects I was involved with at NGA, and it has come a long way in the past eighteen months. For several years before the FFT Dashboard was launched, at NGA we were aware that there was increasing pressure on governors to know their school well, but it wasn’t always easy to access the information needed to do this. Performance data in particular could be a minefield for governing boards. Prior to the FFT Dashboard, the options were limited to either wading through the 90-page RAISEonline report, or relying on information given by the headteacher. There seemed to be a simple solution: governors should have their own summary of their school’s performance, so that they could access data independently and use this to challenge school leaders. The FFT Governor Dashboard does just that – it provides a concise overview of key data that governors need to know about, in a way that’s easy to understand.

NGA worked with FFT in developing the Dashboard, so it’s not surprising that we think it’s an excellent resource which every governing board should use, but as 15,000 governing boards have downloaded their school’s dashboard it seems we’re not alone. A further 2,000 governors have completed the (award winning) e-learning modules. As with the Dashboard itself, the e-learning is designed to be accessible to all governors, and uses video, audio and animation to take users step-by-step through the information they need to maximise the use of the Dashboard. If you haven’t yet made use of this free resource, I highly recommend you give it a go.

There is clearly a high demand for tools such as the FFT Governor Dashboard and the related e-learning, which is to be expected considering the increasing emphasis on performance data. Exam results are used to hold schools to account by both the Department for Education and Ofsted, and for many governing boards improving exam results is a high priority. Indeed, our recent membership survey showed that improving attainment was an important issue for nearly 80% of respondents, the most popular answer by a long way. It can be tempting to treat performance data and the school’s position in the performance tables as an end in itself. Of course schools will want to do well in performance tables and reach the government’s floor standards, and this shouldn’t be disregarded, but I think most governors have much more  important to reasons for wanting to improve attainment. Surely the main thing is to ensure that pupils are being given the opportunity to perform to the best of their ability, and that they leave the school with the skills and qualifications they need to succeed in the future.

Download your school’s dashboard from www.fftlive.org 

FFT's Paul Charman and Pramod Nahata of iFlourish show off the award

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