Pico (6th February 2013)
It's a relatively new award so I can't tell you much from my own research before starting to do it. However, I have a few opinions on the matter!
I don't think it would be worth doing this award if the only goal was to pick up a qualification that could you be used to get a bigger and better job. The way I see it, if you are a current data manager in a school and wanted another job as a data manager at another school, you probably wouldn't need a bit of paper saying that you were a "qualified" data manager.
However, the way that I approached it was whether the tasks that made up the award were worth doing in their own right and whether they were interesting! Given that I'm not paynig for it, if it was a motivating thing to do and if the completion of it would benefit the school then it was worth doing.
I came to the conclustion that it was worth doing for these reasons alone. For example, one of the tasks I'm currently doing is writing a detailed end to end review of our KS4 target setting process, including suggestions for improvement/development. This is useful to me personally as it clarifies the work I'm already doing, and helps to identify potential holes in the system and it is also useful to the school as the resulting document can be used to inform new members of management and staff and they may also take on board the suggestions for improvement.
Another task is to review the schools procedures for data protection compliance and areas of concern and areas for development. As above this is beneficial in its own right.
Each to their own though, I'm sure for some people it would be a waste of time.
Pico (6th February 2013)
This thread seems to be concentrating on setting up and analysing assessment data. There are many other areas that you will get involved in, eg attendance, census preparation, personnel, absence cover, online reporting, communication to mention a few. I do spend too much of my time on the assessment part and feel that most schools require a separate assessment manager to get the best use out of all the data collected.
That's interesting number34, as I feel (as does our Head/Deputy Head) that I spend too much time on other stuff and not enough time on assessment!
It all very much depends on the structure of the support staff in your school, which I've noticed can vary hugely. For example our school has no attendance officer so I end up picking a lot of that stuff up. On the other hand we have a dedicated Cover Manager, so my input into that is minimal. I've heard of schools with data TEAMS. What I would give for a team! The level of involvement with the SIMS software itself also varies quite drastically. Some data managers will only focus on the areas of SIMS they need, such as assessment. However others, like myself, have responsibility for the MIS as a whole, including applying upgrades and patches, a bit of server maintenance and staff training etc.
In my opinion, if you can, try and get involved in the timetabling process. I find it to be one of the most interesting and challenging aspects of my job.
p.s. my official title isn't actually data manager. It's "School Information & Performance Analysis Manager." Which spells SPAM.
Last edited by Ecclesbury; 6th February 2013 at 01:27 PM.
I can agree there, the evolution happens, I was a Standard ICT Technician here for about 4 months, then I was Specialising in SIMS updates for another 3 after that, then I was no longer a technician and was SIMS and Timetable Co-ordinator, when I wrote my first timetable and dealt with the data in SIMS. Then we moved into our new BSF build and we has the ICT contract moved from dealing with the LEP to dealing direct with us and I became Technical Logistics Leader and have all the purchasing and planning of ICT as well as our VLE, all ICT Services, Still Timetabling, Still doing Census, Still analysis data, Still running SIMS updates (looking into SOLUS 3 to deploy discover) and manage the ICT contract and guys. We all pick things up, its just funny how things change.
Interesting Ecclesbury. Applying SIMS updgrades and patches - I see as the role of the ICT manager/team. The general problem with the Data Manager role in some schools is that they haven't initially approached it as a specialist role - it has been one has developed out of another, normally an IT role or an Exams officer role. Some Data Managers are mainly system administrators whilst some are performance analysts.
It's all interesting though. The power of information is such these days that the post-holder should feel confident to shape the role to the best needs of the school and inform SLT of what is required. I equate it to an ICT manager role - well now they would expect to have specialist support desk staff, web developer in order to free the ICT Manager for managing the strategic whole college ICT provision.
I did say get involved in as opposed to do it. If it is done using SIMS then I have ultimate responsibility so I make sure I can do it as well. I used to do all of the patches and upgrades but the network is so complicated with virtual servers, thin clients etc that it is now all done by the network manager.
your title explains why you do so much with KS4 targets etc. I produce all of the comparisons etc but the decisions are taken by SLT, although as I have a maths and statistics background I try to make sure they view the data without too much bias, especially when setting performance targets.....
More generally if you are involved in the SIMS curriculum setups in the school then it is essential that you work very closely with the timetabler and also find out how to use NT6. Again schools differ, for example here I control everything that goes back to SIMS.net and will therefore 'advise' on many aspects of the timetable.
The other thing about schools is that generally with support staff there is too much work to be done, and not enough people to do it. So what tends to happen is if you show an aptitude for something, or previous experience, you will probably ending up doing it, regardless of where you started, or what your specific job description says. Hence IT technicians might gravitate towards SIMS and performance analysis or conversely a data inputter might gravitate towards an IT/SIMS role.
The old "that's not in my job description" doesn't often get you very far in a school! Although at the same time it's easy to find yourself exploited!
Good data chat folks.
I'm also a new data manager having been in the job for just a couple of weeks, so I've found this thread really useful. It's a new role that's been created here so I'm still working out what things I will and won't be doing, as are SLT.
I'm a Data Officer too. I mostly work on assessment tracking and reporting and analysis but used to work in this school as an SEN Admin so I know a fair bit about that area too. We're lucky in our LA as our support package includes all you can eat training courses (for now at least) so I've been on as many as I could tenuously link to my role to further my knowledge of the software as a whole.
I've lurked on here for ages having found the place when googling for SIMS help, it's a brilliant resource.
Sounds like my job description... been doing the job for a year, still baffled and confused by most things except Excel. Not having been part of the Education world until now, it amazes me how complex it is (and sometimes, how schools manage to function at all).
I'm the IT Manager here, but most of my day to day is SIMS related - I'm also the timetabler and the Exams Officer. Becuase I was the IT techie person back in the day SIMS became part of my remit (it was computers!) -we're talking the old DOS based system with text menus here, a long long time ago. Since then, the amount of data we have to deal with has grown exponentially - performance and assessment, tracking, attendance, behaviour and rewards, its a massive area, and all schools have a different approach to managing it, but I certainly don't think that any one person can possibly be "the data person" or "the SIMS person" these days.
I view my role as MIS Manager as an enabling one: I do the core data, such as new intake imports, timetable updates, adding new SIMS users and a lot of the getting data in and out, and I have my own specialisms where I do much more - the Exams module, Nova and Curriculum Management. We have others who deal with all pastoral and attendance stuff, someone else who does behaviour and rewards, the bosses PA does staffing, etc etc as in many schools, most of the people here who deal with these issues have become SIMS experts in their own areas through use and experience.
Like many people who work in schools, and as mentioned above by several people, if you have a knack for it, or an interest in it, you can end up doing it. I must say when people say "Data Manager" these days I tend to assume they will be mainly concerned with assessment and performance, but that may be a rather narrow view on my part.
One thing I would say though is that if you can, try and understand at least a little bit about the timetable structure at your school and how the banding and blocking works. It is so fundamental to how many other things are set up in SIMS - Profiles, Assessment Manager, Course Manager, Exams, that knowing at least something about it will make a lot of the logic behind the way SIMS is set up much easier to follow.
Very important to have a basic knowledge of the school timetable if you'll be dealing with any form of assessment.
It's equally important to make sure whoever is timetabling understands how it affects assessment - our latest timetabler (there have been many) just doesn't get it and it's made my life hell for the past two years. Fortunately, I'll be working much more closely with the new timetabler for next years timetable.
cct72 (5th June 2014)
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