Teaching Ideas To Bin: Data Drops

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John Dabell

I trained as a primary school teacher 25 years ago, starting my career in London and then I taught in a range of schools in the Midlands. In between teaching jobs, I worked as an Ofsted inspector (no hate mail please!), national in-service provider, project...
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Is collecting data the biggest waste of teacher time?

Data is an endless chore for teachers, simply designed to inform school leaders of student progress and ‘where interventions may be able to take place’ in examination classes – under-performing groups if you’re lucky!

By the time the data collection is complete, teachers are either being asked to evaluate what they will do next, or have been asked to submit data for another group of students. It’s easy to see why teachers can always feel like they are submitting summative assessments of their students throughout the entire academic year. Tom Sherrington writes in 10 low impact activities to do less of – or stop altogether:

“Given all the horrible inherent data delusion fallacies that lead people to imagine a 5 in History is broadly the same as a 5 in Science, it’s barely worth the trouble … much of the data that is ‘dropped’ is so far removed from the actual learning needs of a student that it doesn’t even help to identify what they need to do. How many do you really actually need? One at the end – which serves as the start of the next year – and one in the middle?”

Now, that sounds like common sense to me!

Jury: Collect richer data, less often.

2 thoughts on “Teaching Ideas To Bin: Data Drops

  1. Any data a teacher collects should be useful to them. If it is also useful to management then surely it is a bonus.

    Tracking tools which are useful to inform planning learning experiences for the teacher should be adapted so that SLT can access them too.

    However, there should be no extra expectations, demands or deadlines on teachers for things which do not directly make the teacher’s job easier.

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