SDA are delighted to announce two new peer-reviewed articles discussing their work to improve access to 1) School Performance data and 2) Free School Meals . Both papers have been spearheaded by Dr Alan Strickley, the former with contributions from SDA colleagues, and are available from Springer.com.
First up is:
A National Single Indicator for Schools in England: Helping Parents Make Informed Decisions
Alan Strickley, John Bertram, Dave Chapman, Michael Hart, Roy Hicks, Derek Kennedy, Mark Phillips.
With an ever-increasing measurement of pupil and school performance and presence of resultant statistical tables and indicators, parents are faced with a sometimes overwhelming plethora of data and information when monitoring the performance of their children’s present or prospective school. The authors are part of a company that has, using open data, developed a parent/carer-accessible site to attempt to address issues and needs for parents/carers. Anecdotal evidence indicates that a single portal where parent/carers can find all the relevant data about schools in England would be an invaluable tool for monitoring and choosing a school. It was decided that such a site would be built around a National Single Indicator (NSI). The indicator is formed from an amalgam of expected progress measures: the main threshold level; pupils’ average points score; and the value added measure. By changing the weight attributed to each of these measures, the website allows parents to modify their relative importance according to the value they place on them. This dynamically alters the overall result to give users their own “personal indicator”, which means they can compare schools in a list tailored to their own specification.
The website is available at www.schoolperformancetables.com
The second article is:
Online Free School Meals as a Cloud-Based Solution: Three Case Studies of Its Use in England
Online Free School Meals (OFSM) was a transformational programme supported by the Department for Education (DfE) in England. The full process is documented by Strickley. Whilst the use of the system can be judged an overwhelming success, most Local Authorities (LAs) have stopped short of the full web-based system in which parents can apply directly via an online form as a result of the perception of negligible cost benefits created by a lack of technical expertise, scarce resources and server and development costs. The paper describes how these issues were overcome by developing a generic cloud-based solution. The paper looks at the general structure of the solution and examines the experiences of three types of user: an academy consortium, a single school and a large LA to illustrate adoption, implementation, usage and benefits. It concludes that a cloud-based system is cost effective by removing much administration and as a result of lowering the stigma of applying can result in an increase in applications. This has resulted in financial advantages for schools and LAs.
More information is available at www.cloudforedu.org.uk/ofsm/