Madeley Academy

/ Bromcom Customer Care Team

How Madeley Academy used Bromcom to support their approach to KS4

Madeley Academy is a sizeable Secondary School which is part of the Thomas Telford Multi Academy Trust (TTMAT). Although they fall within the remit of a MAT, the school has a high level of autonomy. This allows the school to innovate and share ideas with other schools within the group. We spoke to Ian Marshall, Deputy Headteacher at Madeley Academy about a great example of this working practice. 

The Problem  

At Madeley Academy, they had historically used SISRA to analyse KS4 data but this wasn’t a standardised process across the entire MAT. Furthermore, whilst the final output from SISRA was good, it had a few pitfalls in terms of both production and sharing the results. 

“Each school in our MAT had it’s own little setup for it, some people were using SISRA, some people were using spreadsheets. It was all slightly different, so from a MAT point of view, that isn’t very useful. It was all different types of report and different standards.” 

SISRA requires a manual import of information and ongoing maintenance of pupil data to ensure that the grouping and results data is up to date. There was a trade-off between whether to spend time on reflecting every single pupil change in SISRA as well as the MIS, or whether to accept that some pupil or pastoral groups may not be entirely accurate when it comes to reporting. Ian and the school tried to manage that balance but ultimately it ended being a frustrating task and it soaked up the time of highly skilled staff members. 

When Exams Result day arrived, results would be processed into a format suitable for SISRA ready to be uploaded for analysis. At this stage, Ian experienced regular difficulties with the upload process, as the SISRA servers battled with thousands of schools trying to perform exactly the same intensive process. With the school stakeholders eagerly awaiting the results, Ian had to persist until the operation could be successfully completed.  

From here, Ian would collate various charts and analytics into a report and share with the Headteacher. Another manual task that would need to be repeated at every results capture and it would limit the recipient’s ability to interact with the information.  

When the school migrated onto Bromcom MIS, they were sold on the concept of having an integrated solution for a wide range of tasks previously handled by third party applications. Initially the school adopted the HELM model, using a mixture of inbuilt assessment tools and Power BI, but they were finding that it wasn’t quite in line with the school’s approach. 

At this point, Ian put together a spreadsheet that he could use for summative attainment but again, it was time intensive and could only analyse Summative Attainment. The school needed to track progress between steps/intervals and the spreadsheet would need to be even more complex to handle this. 

The Solution 

Ian identified that the inbuilt Bromcom KS4 Dashboard could hold the answer. After some initial explorations and a conversation with its Product Owner Steve Smith, Ian could see the potential for both Madeley Academy and his fellow Secondary Schools within the Trust.  

“What I like about the process is the fact that unlike SISRA you don’t have to export data to a third party, you’ve got it all in-house.” 

A key benefit was having everything integrated into the product. There were no more arduous data transfers and no need to waste time on data upkeep. As Ian pointed out, you don’t have to be an IT expert to get it working. After a quick one-hour training session, Ian was able to implement effective tracking procedures that could replace the SISRA platform.  

“One of the biggest selling points for us was the fact that you don’t have to duplicate the groups, you don’t have to check that all the data is correct, it’s all there and it’s all live.” 

Furthermore, it makes the process of sharing data much easier. Instead of having to compile reports, the Head for example, has direct access to the data and can interrogate it directly. By giving more members of staff direct access to the analysis, the dashboard becomes more embedded in school processes and a valuable tool for decision making. 

On Exams Results day, the process is far simpler. As soon as the results come in, the stats will be there. There’s no faffing around with transferring and manipulating data, it’s ready to use immediately. Likewise, Ian can simply notify the Headteacher and let him explore the data himself before the associated discussions begin. 

“I don’t have to manipulate the data, it’s just there for me. And not only for myself, if the Head says can I look for X & Y, I can just point him in the direction of the Dashboard and it’s all there for him.” 

Additionally, the dashboard calculates progress, offering a wide range of metrics for any pupil groups. The Academy can now delve into the progress made between each interval and assess performance at a granular level. 

Discussions at Trust level 

Ian has begun discussions with the rest of the Secondary schools in the Trust but as they act independently, each one will make the decision that’s right for them. Herein lies the advantage of sharing good practice within MATs. Instead of working in silos to try and produce the same results, Ian’s efforts are shared across the Trust for mutual benefit. 

If this practice ends up being adopted across the board, it will standardise the MAT level reporting. Rather than having a mixed economy and relying on reporting templates, data can either be directly accessed or presented in a like for like fashion where direct comparisons can be made. 

Student Impact 

Ian has begun modelling potential outcomes for the end of year results. For example, what would the school results look like if all pupils reached their targets? This is reviewed at management level and actions can be taken as appropriate. As the software develops, he is looking forward to using the ‘What if’ modelling which will allow greater control of projections. 

The banding function has been another welcome addition. This allows the school to analyse different groups of students and see a summary of their progress and attainment bands. From there, they can drill right down into the students and assign them to support or catchup groups within the MIS. By looking at progress between snapshots, it’s clear which pupils are making progress and who aren’t, giving the school an opportunity to intervene. 

Another stand out feature Ian raised is the ability to create custom groups on the fly and keep monitoring them at each assessment point. For example, they can track students that have English and Science but are falling behind in Maths, make appropriate interventions and check their progress at the next data drop. This functionality has a wide range of uses and Ian feels they are just scratching the surface. Over time, they will develop a number of school processes and share practice between schools in the Trust. 

Working in Partnership 

Being able to work with the development team is providing the school with new opportunities for how the data can be used. Ian has proposed an option to provide limited access to subject leads to ensure they only see the data for their subject. This will provide staff with the tools to assess their performance and help them identify pupils that might just need a little nudge in the right direction. 

Buoyed by success of the KS4 dashboard, Ian is now in regular discussions with Product Owner Steve Smith, exchanging possible ideas for the future of the tool and the forthcoming KS5 dashboard.