Big ideas for ed tech leaders: Know your data, part 1

Big ideas for ed tech leaders: Know your data, part 1

Although I was good at statistics at university, it’s not an area that I especially warm to. However, even if terms like “grade point average” leave you cold, I think you have to collate some data to be an effective leader of education technology.

Here are a few things I think it important to have data on in your role of being responsible for the teaching of Computing or a related subject, as opposed to an e-learning co-ordinating role or something like that (I’ll cover that next). The exact nature of this data will depend on whether you teach in a primary or secondary school, but this is my “broad brush” approach.

Actually, you don't need to go overboard when it comes to data collection!

·How does the attainment of girls and boys compare?

·If there is a significant difference, how can that be explained?

·If Computing is an option, how many pupils choose it? How does that compare with other subjects?

·What ‘level’ – for want of a better word – do pupils enter or leave the school with? Is that as high as you’d expect? (Yes, I know it’s hard to compare schools now that the common yardstick of Levels has been dumped, but first you still have to have an idea of what you would expect, simply through being a subject expert. (If you’re not a subject expert, then explore other means of finding out, such as through CAS, Twitter or by connecting with other schools in your vicinity.) In any case, Levels never worked as a good yardstick for comparison anyway: see Good riddance to levels in ICT and Computing.)

·How well do children with learning difficulties do?

·How well do children for whom English is not their first language do?

·What difference has the Pupil Premium (or other special funding) made to pupils’ attainment?

·How much money will you be allocated to spend on resources?

·How many licences for Microsoft Office (or whatever) do you have?

·How many laptops, desktops and tablets do you have for use in your subject area?

This isn’t necessarily an exhaustive list. It may not even seem that revolutionary, although I have come across a surprising number of education technology leaders who can’t answer some of them.

As it happens, I could never answer many of them off the top of my head – but I always knew where to look! It seems to me that you need this sort of data, not to satisfy Ofsted inspectors or anything like that, but simply to be able to do the most effective job possible.

cross-posted at

Terry Freedman is an independent educational ICT consultant with over 35 years of experience in education. He publishes the ICT in Education website and the newsletter “Digital Education."