Building a data strategy for your Multi-Academy Trust (MAT)

businessman trading online stock market on teblet screen digital investment concept.jpg s1024x1024wisk20cJZprgGDQ8xqa6iu0fyKJfKOlAvae0w9U AdHeCT2kg4 | Building a data strategy for your Multi-Academy Trust (MAT)
By Nicholas Clark | 11th November 2022 | 4 min read

If your trust has a problem with data, you’re not alone.

Roughly 90% of school leaders view data and analysis as major issues impacting their workload.

It’s not so much the amount of data being collected that’s the issue but rather how it’s typically collated – think difficult-to-access systems, paper-based processes and an array of formats.

The outcome? Accessing the data you need is tedious and time-consuming.

An issue which is magnified for Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) formed from individual schools, each with their own set of legacy systems and processes.

The benefits of better-connected data

Regardless of what legacy systems are in place at a school level, MAT leaders need fast access to an aggregated view of actionable data across all their schools; this is what we mean by better-connected data and the benefits are tangible.

For starters, better-connected data empowers trusts to make meaningful interventions quickly and easily, as well as giving trusts the ability to demonstrate improvements.

Clara Walker, CEO at Great Learners Trust, agrees: “Data has transformed how we can do interventions because it has provided the ability to measure, which in turn provides consistency.”

Standardisation is another benefit.

Customer story: Successful trusts of tomorrow need full and fast access to data today

Read here

The founder of The Multi Academy Trust Association, Matt McDermott, believes this is especially important for bigger organisations: “When it comes to larger trusts, the main challenges we hear are exclusive to scale. For example, how can you quickly monitor data if you’re a trust with 50 schools?”

And as trusts grow, better-connected data makes managing mergers and acquisitions a more straightforward proposition.

One system, ALL the data

The secret to better connecting data from multiple systems, sources, and formats – from Management Information Systems (MIS), HR software and finance software to spreadsheets – is to collate ALL data in one, central location.

In turn, trust-wide consistency flourishes and visibility over what’s going on at MAT, school and even staff/pupil level becomes infinitely clearer.

The key to the success of harnessing data this way is building a data strategy; but before you get started, it’s worth considering:

  • The data you need
  • The format you will collect it in
  • Who needs it
  • How that data will be transformed into insights
  • How you will action change

How to implement a data strategy

When it comes to implementing a data strategy, there are four key recommendations trusts may wish to consider:

1) Go digital

Collecting data on paper massively slows down inputting, analysing and acting on that data. If data is digitised, even if it isn’t in the same format or easily accessible, you can cross-reference, share and store it more securely. Better still, it’s durable.

2) Set goals

Now you’ve digitised all your data, it’s time to decide what the aim of your data-driven strategy is. What do you want your data to achieve? Knowing this will enable you to focus your efforts on maximising those areas.

4) Select your software

Spreadsheets are better than paper BUT the right software offers trusts the ability to quickly collate, securely store and accessibly present data that provide intelligent insights. Victoria Birch, Finance Director at The Beckfoot Trust, explains: “With software, you’re able to analyse, interpret and make decisions based on data to create an informed and evidence-based strategy.”

4) Expect real-time data

When you can see what’s going on across your trust in real-time, you’re able to make timely interventions that improve educational outcomes across the board. When choosing your software, it’s important to consider whether it’ll give you the benefit of real-time data.

By approaching the development of a trust-wide data strategy this way, MATs can harness data to build a stronger MAT and champion better outcomes for all pupils.

New guide: How to harness your data to build a stronger trust

We recently created a guide to harnessing data to build a strong MAT.

In it, you’ll find a compelling narrative, detailing the role of data in MATs, real-world insights from trust leaders and practical guidance from our EdTech experts on how to build a data strategy for a stronger, better-performing trust.

Download the guide here.  

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