Ferrotype

£7bn 363 colleges 4.2m learners 263,257 staff

The smiley face of stats

Channel 4 is investing in a way of making Ofsted reports easy to understand by parents.

Report Card will “bring together multiple data sets to provide a newly accessible way of researching and comparing schools. This product will go beyond the idea of league tables to show schools in context and provide a meaningful interpretation of what they are really like – the atmosphere, internal organisation, teaching standards, facilities, discipline and much more”

Blimey!

An achingly cool design consultancy which takes blindingly innovative approaches to design has developed the concept to this stage. One example of their work is the curved map which includes both a 3D view and a bird’s eye view of a city

Curved Manhattan : click to enlarge

So what are they doing with Ofsted stats ?

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February 5, 2010 Posted by | data, info tech, SMART goals | , , , | Leave a comment

It’s only EMA Emotion

Interesting to keep an eye on austerity sur le continent

Teachers in Greece are going on strike thrice in the next month as Greece’s austerity programme begins [wage freeze for public sector workers  for starters]

In almost-neighbouring Romania the austerity package includes sacking 15,000 teachers, and  Gavin Hewitt [him off the telly] points out that there are four times as many teachers per student in Greece as in Finland, so ………

Finland and Sweden are the model for much current thinking on reshaping education after the 6 May election

And there is also a great deal of eyeing up of previously sacred cows.

There is, for example, some scepticism about the value of  Educational Maintenance Allowances [shadow children’s secretary Michael Gove has called the EMA a flop],  although EMAs do have  solid research evidence of their effectiveness.

In colleges, EMAs seem to work, but  “How to Save £50bn” has an uncomfortable analysis of EMA

Chart 2.1 shows that while there has been an increase in the percentage of 16-18 year olds in education or training since the EMA was launched, from 75.7 per cent in 2004 to 79.7 per cent in 2008, this is negligible … also a decrease in 16-18 year olds in employment, from 14.7 per cent to 10.0 per cent.

… NEETs increased from 9.6  to 10.3 per  between 2004 and 2008.
These are poor results, and show that EMA is not a good use of money.

  • Abolishing EMA would save £530,000,000 a year.
  • Are the figures in Chart 2.1 valid?

and then

  • Is EMA a “front line service” or is it a back office function, and therefore saveable?
  • Any savings from scrapping EMA would be small beer when set against the £175bn deficit – but every little helps.
  • Taking a bolder line,  could the [complicated and rigorous but existing] EMA system be harnessed as a participation-led college funding system. Young people cash in their course credit, and continue to get a cash back EMA  in return for attendance and achievement ?

February 4, 2010 Posted by | austerity funding | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Watch the list of small colleges

Looking at the most recent data on the number of people employed in further education colleges in England, I pulled out a list of those colleges with large numbers of staff, and those with small numbers.

The largest college is City of Manchester with 3,670 contracts, and the smallest is Derwentside with 215.

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January 25, 2010 Posted by | austerity funding, list | , , | Leave a comment

Top 10 Local Authorities to look out for

The Learning and Skills Council  used to allocate and distribute  funding to colleges, but  from next year local authorities will take over the distribution.

They haven’t been involved with further education colleges for many years  –  which are the big players now?

The latest data from LSC on allocations to local authorities shows that

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January 21, 2010 Posted by | austerity funding, list | , , , | Leave a comment

Fewer young people until 2019

I have been looking at the decline in numbers of young people at national and regional level, and the first data which popped up when I googled for local authority numbers was for Gloucestershire.
When I take the pupil numbers, and roll them forward to 2019, Gloucestershire mirrors the steady decline seen at national and regional level.

My projection for Young People in Gloucestershire 2009 to 2019. Source data and graph also from File Box in side bar

By 2014, there will be 10% fewer 15 year olds to feed into further education colleges at 16, and the numbers keep going down to an 18% drop by 2018.
This is a challenge which is every bit as real as the coming funding challenge.

January 14, 2010 Posted by | Numbers of young people | , , | Leave a comment

Seeing what data means for course teams

Many people in course teams find it difficult to work up any enthusiasm for analysing their students’ success data, and just cannot see anything in it – for many of them, data is just numbers.

They would get a lot more out of a more visual presentation, stimulating them to see the story of their teaching in the numbers, and encouraging them to find ways to make things better for their students through ORID reviews [see my 4 January post]

The most vivid and meaningful example of visualisation that I can find is in the magnificent presentations on www.gapminder.org

Although the method seems incredibly hi-tech,  Google bought  the gapminder software in 2007  and it is available free! within Google Docs http://docs.google.com/

So I have started to produce demonstrations this week.
By feeding enrolment, achievement, retention and success data into a Google Docs spreadsheet and then inserting the Motion Chart Gadget, I can now run time series for the data in ways that urge the viewer to look for the story which plays out before their eyes.

Realistically, I have until May/June before I introduce it to course teams as they begin their Course Reviews, and there is some way to go before my demos are robust enough to use with real people. I still have to suss out how well the graphs perform on a live college network with a projector; and whether I can download them to use offline so that they run faster and more robustly.

I also need to sort how to insert into web pages so I can access them from an intranet – or from a blog! – so I may have to break the habit of a lifetime, and read the instructions fully and carefully.

January 13, 2010 Posted by | course team | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Data Reviews need to be ORID

I’m disappointed that I missed out on Course Team Reviews this year because I am keen to see them done better.
More efficiently= squandering less precious time and motivation
More effectively = fewer formulaic, trite reviews or fire and forget action plans

I’ll do it better by using the “focussed conversation” strategy.
It is nothing new, dating from 2000 [Brian Stanfield, The Art of Focused Conversation: 100 Ways to Access Group Wisdom in the Workplace] but it excites me as a way of getting teams involved.

Once people are involved things start to happen, but the problem is always The Forms.
I want to cut The Forms to four questions which guide the team through four stages of thinking

O Objective statements from the data – with no interpretation – just factual statements.
What factual statements can we make about the course based on the data?

R Reflections on those facts, and how they make them feel, as individuals or a group.
What encouraged and discouraged us, and how do we feel about this?

I Interpretation what does the data, and their response to it, tell them?
What does the data tell us, what is there to celebrate, what doesn’t it tell us and what else might we want to know?

D Decisions on what they should do next.
What should and can we do having considered the data? What are the next steps?

The team have a conversation – facilitated at first – and record what the data means to them.

Pushing it a bit, I’ll encourage filling in the ORID form on-line [ a Google Docs template and database is already set up, albeit with one typo] but however the team provide their response, that is secondary to the very direct way in which they are asked to respond to the data.

The framework is all about them and their student data, not that of the quality manager, or their management team, or Ofsted, but is grounded in their own experience and circumstances.
The approach reinforces that they are valued and trusted to take stock of their position and move forward in ways which make sense to them and to their teaching environment.

And next, I want to revamp those grids of SMART action plans

January 4, 2010 Posted by | course team | , , , , | Leave a comment