It's time to change our approach to management information systems (MIS) in schools.
There is a lot of technology helping schools focus on what matters most to improvement: high quality teaching. But not all of it does. I've been lucky to work alongside many impressive schools - those helping young people achieve excellent educational outcomes against fierce odds. They do this in many ways, but a sharp focus on high quality teaching is central.
I've taken an interest in MIS in schools for several reasons:
First, the potential for data and information to support the work of teachers and school leaders, and to shine a light on improvement issues. This needs an MIS operation which provides information in the right form in the hands of those professionals, and not just consuming data.
Second, the teacher time saved or expended on entering the data and information. Unlike other sectors, school systems and applications often seem designed to create work rather than save time, impacting on the ability of teachers to adequately focus on the most crucial aspects of their professional role.
And third, the sheer size and cost of the MIS in schools operation. DfE estimated the market size at £575m in 2012. Add to this infrastructure and support costs and we have an expensive beast. Again, systems and infrastructure costs in other sectors are falling as more efficient Cloud solutions are introduced, suggesting considerable potential to release money for schools to invest in improving teaching and outcomes.
I've looked into the issues, including the case of a large multi-academy trust which switched MIS last year. My research has led me to the simple conclusion: it's time for change. And MATs are well-placed to lead an inevitable move towards better systems based on modern Cloud-based software and infrastructure. The good news is that the support is available for them to do this smoothly.