One of the advantages of having several schools under one umbrella, such as in a local authority or a multi-academy trust, is that you are able to draw on a much wider pool of data than would otherwise be the case. In effect, you can avoid the 'bubble' phenomenon.
This is where you think your school is doing great. Attendance is high, lateness is low, achievement in a number of areas favourably compares with national expectations --- so you have nothing to worry about, right? Wrong! Unless you come out of your bubble to see what other schools are doing, you may think you're doing much better than you really are, at least in comparison to other schools.
This especially applies where the schools are all in a similar location, for two reasons. First, the same locality implies (though this is not always the case) that the catchment area for two or three schools situated near each other have the same sort of characteristics. Secondly, parents from different schools tend to talk to each other in social situations, and compare notes.
The key question then is: why is school A not doing as well as school B in terms of attainment, attendance or some other measure? It doesn't matter that school A is achieving 99% attendance. If school B is achieving 99.5%, someone should be asking why.
Don't forget that school governors and academy trustees should be asking such questions too. Governing bodies have a statutory obligation to ensure that the standard of education in their school is as high as it possibly can be. Therefore it stands to reason that in order to do so they need data, and then they need to use that data to examine their school and, if necessary, ask probing questions.
In the case of an LA officer or MAT, the question 'why?' can be expanded to: 'what is school B doing that school A is not?' or, more plainly, 'what lessons can school A learn from school B?'
The first step in such deliberations is the collection of the relevant information. In the past, collecting the data from more than one school posed two challenges.
First, the format in which the data was held would often differ from one school to the next, and so someone would have to undertake a conversion of the data into a common format as far as they could, and then put the whole lot into a spreadsheet, before they could even begin to examine it.
Secondly, collecting the data was nightmarish, as it would have to be done by email or, before that, by physically going around the schools and collecting the data on a disk.
Well, times change, often for the better, and that has proved to be the case here. Groupcall Xporter can automatically collect data from any number of schools automatically. You decide what data to collect, and how often to collect it, and let Xporter get on with it.
From a leadership point of view, it means that you can identify which of your schools are performing well in particular areas, then visit them to find out what they're doing that seems to be so effective, and then disseminate the best practice to all your schools.