Assistant Principal Greg Barker explains why Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College is applying Dynistics’ Active Dashboards – and the benefits it offers
With the college producing huge amounts of data each year, they were keen to start to manage their information more effectively, cutting the need to produce time- consuming reports.
The college also wanted to be able to interrogate its information – spending less time identifying issues and more time solving them.
“I’m a drama teacher by background,” Assistant Principal Greg Barker says, “not a data man. I want to get down to asking the right questions to improve things, not spend an age collecting information I can’t do anything with.
“My mantra about data is: it just poses a question. Nothing else. So if attendance is at 80%, say, you can ask questions about why that is.
“I should be able to go and talk to our tutors and teachers to solve any problems – or to discuss what’s going well – without having to spend an hour trying to find the information. Saving this time is where the dashboards come in.”
Active Dashboards Solution
On deciding that a dashboard solution would be the answer to the college’s data needs, Greg researched possible solutions. He found Dynistics’ website and was immediately struck by the look of Active Dashboards:
“It was pretty and I like good design. If I can make the software appealing to the end user then that’s brilliant. The fact that the website is so interactive and allowed me to play – and to show it to others – was good as well.”
More than this, Greg was impressed by Dynistics’ track record with other college clients:
“The fact that you worked with the education sector was important, because it meant you would understand us as a client.”
As part of the implementation process, Dynistics provided consultation and training to help the college understand exactly what they wanted from their dashboards.
Key members of the management team down to principle tutors and teachers were consulted on the best way to show their most important metrics. All showed a keen interest during the early stages of implementation, leading to requests for new dashboards and modifications.
Active Dashboards is now up and running at the college, displaying enrolment, success, achievement and retention data – providing accurate, real-time information at the click of a mouse.
“Data traditionally refers to what’s happened but what we really want is to know what’s happening now – and what’s going to happen,” Greg says.
“These dashboards will help us to be more immediately responsive, because we won’t have to wait four weeks for a KPI report, by which point it’s too late to change anything.
“Of course, it’s important that we do look at things like exam results when they come in, make judgements based on that information and then speak of those judgements. But we also need to be able to unpick that to work out what got us to that position.
“If we know what’s working well and why then we can replicate it; and if we know what isn’t working well and why then we can improve it.”
Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College has prioritised the top factors it uses to improve the service offered to students. These include:
Student applications and enrolments – “Measuring the conversion rate from applications to enrolments is really important,” Greg says. “Who is applying and not converting? And why? Where are students applying from, and where are they under represented? In an increasingly competitive environment for attracting students, this is becoming more and more important. The capacity to present this information ‘live’ will be a real improvement.”
Retention – “Who is leaving and why are they leaving? Are there any common factors? How can we predict which factors make the difference – so we can intervene early.”
Attendance – “Who is in lessons and who isn’t? Are there patterns identifiable? Who is monitoring and taking responsibility for absence?"
Exam results – “This is a key measurement for any educational institution, the ability to understand good and poor performance.
Lesson observation – “We were already recording all our lesson observations online, but now we can track the trends more quickly – and spot potential issues before they become major problems.”
Improved room usage
Financial variance between budget and actual spend
UCAS application progression
From the client
"These dashboards will help us to be more immediately responsive, because we won’t have to wait four weeks for a KPI report"
Greg Barker, Assistant Principal Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College