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?
As its name implies, meta metrics is information about the metrics themselves. For example, how long does it take for every register to be taken and sent electronically to the school office? To put this another way, how long is it before you and someone in the office knows that a pupil is absent?
How long is it before their parents are contacted?
Bottom line: in a worst case scenario, how long will it be before someone realises there’s a problem, that the child who set off for school that morning hasn’t actually arrived?
You might look into this (highly recommended, by the way). and discover, say, that 98% of absentees/latecomers have been identified within 15 minutes of registration period ending.
That leaves you with two questions. First, what’s going on with the other 2%? Are some teachers not taking the register straight away? Do they need training in how to send it electronically to the office?
Secondly, is 15 minutes soon enough? Why not 5 minutes? After all, if it’s all done electronically then collating the registers takes microseconds and flagging up anomalies is carried out automatically.
All this is not to say that 98% or 15 minutes are not good enough, but that it’s worth looking at this kind of data and asking the question: could we be quicker?
There are five main benefits of doing so.
The first is the obvious one, that it potentially keeps children safer. It’s much better to know within 20 minutes of school starting that a child hasn’t turned up than after 35 minutes.
Secondly, texting a parent within a few minutes of the ending of registration to ask where their son or daughter is sends out a powerful message: put simply, the school is on the case.
You could even use these sorts of figures in your marketing and your communications with parents. “We contact parents of absent children within five minutes of the end of registration…” sounds impressive.
The third advantage is that it helps to reassure Governors or Trustees that the school is completely on top of things. After all, they’re the ones who are ultimately responsible for the children’s welfare in the school.
Fourthly, should an inspector call, you will be ready not only with the attendance data itself, but data about how fast you get the data, and what you’re doing as a school to make the process even quicker. If you can show that the school is improving in this respect, so much the better.
Finally, every organisation needs to know whether the systems it uses are effective, and whether they should be changed or built upon. If you’re using a legacy system that is no longer supported and so cannot provide you with all of the data you want, or can’t process the data very quickly, looking at the meta metrics will show up these kinds of deficiencies. You will then have a solid foundation on which to base your future technology investment decisions.
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