Ex data manager here. Then went over to the other (dark) side
Ex data manager here. Then went over to the other (dark) side
Congratulations on your new position! You don't say what your background / prior experience is. At any rate, I don't use SIMS, but I want to second some of the points that have already been made in this thread:
- Get to know the different parts of SIMS and how they inter-relate. The more you can get SIMS to do the work for you, the better.
- Try to avoid doing too many data tasks in Excel. Excel is fantastically powerful, but it does create management problems for the data (keeping it up to date) and keeping track of the all the different files you'll end up creating. You'll also find yourself doing the same tasks over and over again, so you'll either need to set up templates with the calculations pre-created or use VBA to process the data you export.
- Find out what third-party tools are available and allowed to be used in your school. Google SDC has been mentioned. I use Reporting Services.
- Plus, get extra training if you need it. Your skills are a benefit to the school, so there should be scope for CPD of some kind.
One thing I would say is important that doesn't seem to have been mentioned yet is that you will need to be included in discussions about what the school's goals are and how the work you do relates to them. If you're not included in these discussions you won't be able to plan the kinds of reports you need to create and identify commonalities between the different groups of people you'll be working with. The type, quality and structure of the data you collect in SIMS will impact on how easy it is for you to bring everything together. Understanding the big picture is crucial here. Of course, this big picture is actually a moving target ... :)
One last thing: give yourself time to settle in the school and work out how things have been done up until now, what has worked and what hasn't. But the main thing is to give yourself time.
Best of luck!
Just had a thought that if you are in the enviable position of having a blank slate to work with, assessment wise, it might be worth keeping half an eye on the potential developments with the English Baccalaureate certificates (all aboard Michael Gove's Time Machine!)
Given that there is talk of a new assessment framework, if you can keep any future distruption to a minimum it is going to make your life easier. Of course, it would nice if we had even the slightest clue of what might change. Ho hum.
Out of interest did any data mangery types out there contribute anything to the eBac consultation?
Hello everyone and thank you all so much for the replies.
To answer some of your questions.............. I'm an ex-database programmer so used to working with big datasets but completely new to SIMS. From what i can see, it's pretty straightforward but has its quirks like all systems - I may be eating my words later :)
There is what seems like a fairly well bedded-in SIMS system up and running at the school, and I'm lucky to have a handover with my predecessor who is showing me the ropes. Lots of scope to develop further and put my own stamp on things though.
Pico, I 100% agree with what you've said. I think I got the job because I'm absolutely passionate about good quality data and what it can do for the organisation. What do staff wish they knew about how the school worked? What do they wish they could achieve? What are we as an organisation working towards, and how might imaginative collection and analysis of data help us to achieve that? Obviously I have to get on top of the day-to-day basics before I can start thinking big in that way but I very much see data as a tool that can open up new possibilities and reveal things about the organisation that help us all to work better...................
Once I get assigned a desk and a computer (!) I'll be signing up for SupportNet so expect to see you over there too. Thanks again everyone.
Part of my Job is Data Managing (other part is to Line Manage the ICT Dept like a NM and the other is Timetabling, for my sins) I am always happy to help, just drop me a PM.
I agree with a lot of people, a good data cleanse would be great. Got part of the way there by "z"ing old aspects and setting up the Result Sets (makes such a difference) i have also overseen the removal of End of Year Reports being written in comments with Assessment Manager and into Profiles where they belong.
All i would say is watch out for old Grade Sets, they will be a pain if you are using formulas, but I have done some pretty crazy things with Assessment Manager and the very little of Performance Analysis I have used, even got a Sub Levels of Process thing done for KS3 which does the breakdown by class (did take a while to setup and more to maintain) and got distance from targets for KS4 in a breakdown by class.
I would recommend getting onto a Assessment Manager course as I have seen nightmares in other schools out there, where every aspect has its own result set etc etc. and I really want to get onto a Performance Analysis course to learn how to use it properly.
Also try and make use of Discover and teach your SLT how to use it, they will find it great to find out data breakdowns visually,
If you've got a good setup, you'll hopefully learn how things link together at least in your system. The thing i would be most interested in, is the end of year / start of new year tasks. This is when you find out how well set up the system is. Most systems generally work, otherwise, you'd be here asking for help to fix it. The issue is, how much time it takes to get the system reset for next year. In a well thought out system, you just have to allocate marksheets for each new class to the relevant template.
I fully advocate being included at SLT level about the school's plans, if they are open to it. Quite often, you end up being the data skivvy, and they come to you at the last minute with random requests that will take hours of work to produce. This is why your every day Data Manager resorts to Excel. Not because SIMS can't do it, but because it takes too long to set it up.
Every year for the last 3/4 years i've had to make major changes to our system, as simple as swap when that grade is collected between term 1 and term 2. Easy to say, a real PITA to implement, on every template, marksheet, independent report!
I've never done a SIMS course that i've found helpful, but defo read the manuals, and between here and SupportNet you'll have it covered.
Discover is a powerful tool, Graham Cooper, SIMS product manager, describes it as a tool to turn the wealth of data stored in SIMS into information. It's that information you need to show Ofsted you know what's going on.
It's not the only way to get data out, but a very good one that is hard wired to your live SIMS data.
@vikpaw do use the Replace button on your marksheets at all, Its great if you have a result set for each term, makes the process much quicker on the template side.
Firstly welcome to the best job on earth.
Secondly, as quickly as possible suss out your MIS setup - what staff already use it for, how they currently use it and what they want to use it for.
Thirdly - do not restrict yourself just to your MIS and the outputs it provides. Investigate other products that can enhance the MIS and the information it provides.
The key to this is to get a sound grasp on school priorities, hopefully you'll have some senior leaders who are data literate and also dialled into what they want and how this will help all staff engage with the MIS and whatever else you use to present information.
Despite some warnings above - do not be afraid to use excel. If set up effectively and in harmony with the outputs from the MIS it can provide THE most powerful and flexible analysis to get real messages across to staff. Problems come with excel when it gets out of hand in terms of planning and purpose. If you have your excel outputs planned and designed properly like you would anything else then it works great. Systems people also never advise it - for simple economic reasons - you are not using their system.
I personally prefer to leave my MIS as just that - managing information, because that is what it is designed for. If you want to do analysis then use something that is designed to do just that. The MIS systems in school have become bogged down in trying to do a little bit everything, instead of just being perfect in what they are supposed to do.
Let the educationalists lead on what they want - don't invest loads of time / tie yourself into in a particular methodology because the sands of educational strategy move so quickly you'll be out of date in no time - stay connected, stay flexible is my advice.
As important as the MIS is getting on top of all the national data sources you will need to reference and forge links with local schools data groups / local authority contacts they all have a wealth of knowledge and experience.
Good luck. A brilliant career awaits in the UKs best industry.
Another data manager here, amongst other roles, with near on a decade at the SIMS coalface. SIMS is good at inputting, holding and sharing data. It's ability to analyse the data can often be found lacking, but is improving with each release. I tend to end up producing termly data reports for the SLT in Excel, using VBA scripts to give the granular analysis they require in a single document.
Always happy to help here or on SupportNet. Enjoy the role @ICTLady.
Do any of the data managers here know of a mailing list / place where data managers can go to discuss what they do / what tools they use /what national priorities are affecting them / strategies that have worked well etc.
I have the sense that many of us are islands, floating in a sea of education data.
I don't know what the criteria are for joining it, but I'm on one of those Listserv email group thingies which the SSAT set up for data managers. There has been some interesting discussion on there already.
It was drawn to my attention because I signed up to do the National Data Managers Award that the SSAT offer:
SSAT | NDMA
How useful is the National Data Managers Award and does anyone know how widely it is recognised? I've been in two minds whether to sign up for it, though, like others, I am keen to get in touch with other data managers.
Well clearly there are a fair few of us here so I thought I'd start a group to help us find one another should the need arise:
Data Managers - EduGeek.net
I'm hoping they will add a similar tool to ind.reps. to alter resultsets - though the find and replace method does a pretty good job if you follow the procedure correctly.