So gotta let of steam here, why when I spend loads of time created Marksheets, Reports and methods for analysis do staff insist that they want the data exported in excel, so they can do some analysis ?
And it's not even like they are competent in excel either.
Then of course class list change, students start and leave the school, so the excel analysis is pretty much out of date as soon it leaves SIMS.
But of course I'm the data manager so I should be able to fix and merge and understand all the weird stuff they have done, and know what 20 level subnested folder the spreadsheet called Y11-12-13-Ethnic-English.xls is stored in, so I can cross reference
it with the other 20 spreadsheets spread all over the place, that have no common format, and produce a report for SLT in under 5 minutes.
When if they actually told me what they want I could implement a reproducible solution in SIMS in a couple of hours, that will keep working and allow all the information to be reported on.
But noooooo, they want a spreadsheet.
Gaahhhh, Just Gaahhhhh.
I empathise with the OP, I know there are shed-loads of spreadsheets clogging up our network and holding useful information that if all put in one place would enhance the information I could provide. But this is departmental data and must remain in their silo, not mine
budgester (13th February 2014)
Not of course that I have 20 years of working with databases and creating reports, coding and problem solving, just cos your a teacher and got a bit of a promotion, your degree in how to teach a mildly technical subject now means
you know more about business processes, statistics and basic maths than I do.
And when you ask for an average of some values and I ask... Mean, Mode or Median and you give me a blank look, again .... Gah...
I'm sure my contract says I'm allowed to use a cluebat !!
This was a right pain here with spread sheets all over the place pretty much as you described, to be honest I don't think the SIM's interface is the easiest for staff to use in regards getting their data in some respects and especially as a whole school view, what we have done is produce a system that extracts the data from SIM's into its own system that analyses the data and puts it into an easy to sue front end and gives a fairly simple end for staff and SLT to navigate and don't have to bother myself or Data Manager to get analysis of data at reporting points it is all done.
The Data Manager has set up Class\Subject tracking sheets in SIM's that Staff do the tracking in between reporting points which subject staff use which replaced a lot of the Excel sheets going on and we sort politely refuse to maintain Excel sheets as explain these are quickly out of date although will produce things for one off analysis in Excel or provide Excel training to staff was hard work and had some people moaning at the start but they have sort of come round.
They can also export out of SIM's Mark sheets into Excel or out of the system we have created into Excel but that is up to them to maintain and manage.
my advice is to show them analysis on their homepage and watch them smile.
group, aspect and result set analysis cover pretty much everything anyone could want...... all slt and HODs have these set up on their home page and have totally bought into not needing to maintain external spread sheets.
@Dave_Bensley - spot on.
As soon as anything goes out to a spreadsheet it gets out of date and it becomes very difficult to manage. Ofsted will be looking to ensure that the SLT view corresponds with that of the classroom teacher. Data needs to be in one place.
IWDave (15th February 2014)
Completely agree with PhilNeal and Dave_Bensley to a point as they both say extremely difficult to keep data up to date in excel spread sheets this is ok for analysis at specific point but as they say is quickly out of date and extremely difficult to maintain, not sure about SIM's displaying the analysis of data though that is easy for the end user or in a user friendly manor.
My other concern in displaying this all just in SIM's is performance I am sure quite a few of us on here had issues before the Summer upgrade as regards the SIM's upgrade that was sort of auto updating the Home Page causing massive performance issues, this seemed to go on for a few weeks and to be honest was only fully fixed here even after installing all the patches etc in the Summer upgrade and has mean't that to try to alleviate some of the issues in regards to performance we have upgraded to 2012.
Again completely agree with Phil and Dave about exporting the data out of SIM's and into Excel or other system unless you have a way of keeping all the analysis outside SIM's up to date or are only doing the analysis at a specific point and realise that this can be quickly out of date if things change.
If I could keep everything in SIMS I would but I too have to suffer the insistence of spreadsheets everywhere. They are a menace but it's what people want.
As long as you are not doing data entry in Excel (and even then it can still be manageable) keeping spreadsheets up to date is not actually hard if you are good at Excel, and can use the reporting function on your MIS. .
Getting good at excel is very much cheaper than paying for some of these MIS modules, or third party analysis tools. The Excel skills are also so much more transferable.
Being able to create dynamic watch lists from information presented through pivots, now that is where MIS's ought to come into their own.
@CAM completely understand it is difficult as we all have people to answer to and if its what they want is always difficult to move away. We have here Analysis in SIM's where we can (mostly class tracking and Target setting), export data into our own system which is what SLT and teaching staff us for analysis at reporting periods and enter and track intervention and used at QA (Quality Assurance) meetings, we also use SISRA which a couple of SLT use our Data Manager and myself use along with the other systems. Even with all this going on we still produce some analysis in excel that none of these give us we do try and then replicate this in SIM's or our own system after and sort of use Excel for modelling but we still have to do some analysis in Excel.
@psydii we found keeping the spread sheets we created wasn't as you say to difficult but we were having to recreate up date these at each assessment point to get all the analysis we wanted which was taking sometime and was prone to the occasional error that is why we automated this into our own system. I also did some cost analysis on the amount of time it was taking to maintain these Excel sheets and in staff time we were talking thousands of pounds based on three reporting periods a year 5 years so 15 sets of analysis especially for the depth of analysis. As you say it is what perhaps MIS's should do and some do to an extent the problem is I am not quite sure they do them well enough or the required skills to develop these within in the MIS system are extremely high and can take years to develop then that person leaves or retires and a lot of this can be lost.
Now a lot of this is automated and our MIS person isn't just manipulating data she is much more involved in using the data to highlight where Intervention is required this has made the school much more focused on Intervention across the whole school and look at expected progress and whether students are achieving this and if not what are we doing and if the intervention undertaken is successful or not and this can be seen by all staff easily.
We suffered Excel for ages because it was the easiest way to setup and analyse because Assessment Manager wouldn't let you copy a formula, and so it was a right PITA to set all the columns up.
Later on got a part timer to come and do it, and it works much better. Though excel can do some funky stuff.
Out of interest, does anyone use Discover? Can that show any of the data required as that is like having it SIMS, but hopefully a separate server so less performance hit..
We use it a little for really Attendance and Behaviour analysis and am sort of keeping an eye on how this develops at a couple of schools in the borough, I went to visit a couple of schools that I had been told were using this well and seemed good my only concern was when I asked how many staff were using it they said themselves (Data person) and one or two of SLT but what we want is everyone using the data which is what we have now.
You possibly can set Discover up on a separate Server although at the moment ours is sat on the SIM’s server, my only issue would be performance if loads of staff started using Discover although I have beefed up our SIM’s Server over the summer.
Discover also takes a bit of work to set up so if it looks like it will add something extra to what we already have and might be useful for staff we might invest sometime in this.
The LEA also set some initial stuff in Discover for us as our LEA are very pro-active and they also provided some training for ourselves and our SLT but SLT here thought we already had was probably better for us and this was really before the last set of development with our own system.
But as I say I am just keeping an eye how Discover develops.
You can quote the data protection act as a vehicle to change your policy.
You need to ensure all data is up to date and accurate, exporting to spreadsheets does not help with this.
If someone makes a request to see all their data you will need to find all these seperate speadsheets that all your teachers have created costing time and money.
Excel spreadsheets are not secure either so your potential for data leakage is increased especially if copied to usb sticks.
£500,000 is a hefty price to pay just to keep your teachers happy!
The whole idea about Sims is that all the data that teachers need is at their fingerprints at the time of need. In a secure storage area.
Just another angle for you to use!
We use Discover primarily as a Business Intelligence tool to spot vulnerable cohorts. For example, I used it to produce a Venn diagram of pupils with additional needs, on free school meals and with attendance below 95%. Showing it to SLT, they knew of most of the kids as being vulnerable in that respect but not quite all of them.
In an ideal situation your data should never tell you anything you don't already know, but you're watching out for those odd times when it does.
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