Given how efficient it is to use a management information system to keep track of absenteeism, communicating with parents and recording children’s progress (see What else can technology offer schools?), you’d think that every school in the country would find their MIS to be absolutely essential.
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The 80:20 rule states that 80% of the outcome stems from 20% of the causes. In business, for example, it’s a commonly-held belief that 80% of sales comes from 20% of the customers, 80% of complaints arise from just the most difficult 20% of customers, and so on.
Having attendance and punctuality statistics available is a must: so far so obvious. These are the basic metrics a school needs in order to keep its children safe and on track. But have you ever considered the benefits of ‘meta’ metrics?
A well thought-out and integrated management information system (MIS) and other technology can provide a lot more benefits to a school than simply speeding up certain processes.
It's one of the big issues facing some schools: how do you make sure that all of them attend school? And punctually? It's not just a matter of making sure they're safe either: Ofsted requires every school to produce an attendance record.
There are several ways to keep children safe, both online and offline. Perhaps the first thing to recognise is that the two things are related. In an article entitled “Adolescents’ experience of offline and online risks: separate and joint propensities”, Anke Görzig states:
Teacher workload is currently firmly in the spotlight with recent surveys revealing just how strained teachers in the UK are on a daily basis. Time and workload pressures mean that on average, teachers are reported to work over 50 hours per week which is way above the UK average of 37.5 hours. This is causing teachers to have a poor work-life balance as well as increasing concerns for their mental and physical health.
Inertia. It’s the enemy of innovation. “We’ve always done it this way”, people say. Or, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The relationship between parents and teachers is very important, and involves much more than turning up to a parents' evening once or twice a year. Sandy Christenson, of the University of Minnesota, reported studies which found that children from birth to age 18 spend 90% of their time outside of school and that once children start kindergarten they spend 70% of waking hours outside of school time. She concludes that how students use their time and what learning opportunities and supports they receive outside of school highly influence their reading progress and performance in school.
Over 50,000 teachers left the profession before retirement last year, the highest number for more than a decade. In 2016, the NUT called for teacher shortages to be made a priority over ‘politically motivated’ projects such as academies and free schools.