Five reasons MATs should choose IRIS Central

atlantas hartsfield jackson airport control tower with plane taking off.jpg s1024x1024wisk20cc AcQAJWlTBWIz iovPJALgFcEpDPbAX6oGOYwzOzwM | Five reasons MATs should choose IRIS Central
By Anthony Wolny | 15th September 2023 | 6 min read

We are truly in the age of data.

That’s a good thing for schools and trusts – although it brings more than its fair share of challenges, with 90% of school leaders viewing data and analysis as a major issue.

Many find themselves hampered by difficult-to-access systems, paper-based processes and an array of differing formats. 

More than a quarter of multi-academy trusts (MATs) with data management teams tell us it’s difficult to consolidate, analyse and interpret data.

While over half without data management teams say they find it ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to combine information from different sources to better understand the overall performance of their trust. 

The solution? IRIS Central, your control tower for effective school and trust data management. 

Made by the group behind ParentMail, iSAMS and Ed:gen, IRIS Central provide strategic oversight with a broad and deep analysis of pupil attainment, HR, attendance, SEN, PP, FSM, behaviour, exclusion and much more. 

Need more convincing? Here are five reasons you might want to have IRIS Central in your toolkit.

1) Make smarter decisions

Pupils have just a few years at your school, so every decision matters!

But these crucial decisions probably won’t be effective if vital data remains a mystery and you’re manually sifting through spreadsheets, reports and paper documents, trying to reconcile ill-fitting figures.

Your data is meant to help you make decisions, but in its current fractured state, you’re not even sure what the real issues are.

Should you be looking at new ways to supercharge the growth of your MAT right now? Do you need to react to a competing trust that has moved into the area? Should staff retention be your current priority? Are there wellbeing issues affecting vulnerable pupil groups?

A common problem solved by IRIS Central

“We know 15% of MATs fall at the very first hurdle, with ineffective manual data processes, while 25% find bringing that data together a massive challenge. The result is school leaders shy away from data unless it’s urgent. A data-rich school or trust suddenly becomes data-poor,” says Nic Clark, Product Manager from the IRIS Central team.

IRIS Central collects all school data together into a meaningful whole, including MIS information, HR, Finance, Government data and more, either by using a direct connection or an API, depending on the software you’re hooking into Central.

Within a MAT, IRIS Central then brings all its schools’ statistics together to provide a picture of everything that’s happening.

Reality on the ground is crystal clear with IRIS Central’s graphs and charts, highlighting problems and illuminating solutions.

Whether you want to get going with a pre-built dashboard, customise it or create a completely bespoke control centre, the options are easy to execute.

2) Save time

When preparing data for a leadership meeting, you’ve two choices: pray you’ve second-guessed the statistics everyone will need (and risk adjourning the meeting if you’re wrong) or overprepare as many manual charts as possible.

If it’s the latter, you’ll speculatively gather everything from learner progress, behaviour records, attendance and health records to mind-boggling Government CSV files.

The worst news is the longer this exercise takes, the more likely everything will be hopelessly out-of-date by the time you present it.

Whichever route you choose, someone’s time will be wasted, and decisions will be made based on stale information.

Time saved means timely decisions

A Trust leader once told us they spent 95% of their time collecting/looking at data and only spent 5% doing anything with it.

Well, IRIS Central’s snappy scenario modelling allows leadership to test theories mid-meeting, with templates swiftly pulling information together in a meaningful, methodical way.

The result? Instant, real-time decision-making is here!

Whenever anyone has a question or has a major lightbulb moment, the relevant data can be accessed by everyone with the press of a button.

David Houghton, Chief Operating Officer at Kernow Learning, says: “IRIS Central is an exciting, robust solution that is revolutionising our central trust databases.

“It ensures our leaders are empowered to spend more time on creating a better experience for our pupils. Critically, this cuts the time spent on administrative work and reduces the margin of error – maximising output and minimising the energy put in.”

3) Great user experience

IRIS Central is made for all staff, flattening the learning curve so everyone can use stats immediately and get on with helping young people.

Seen someone’s grades suddenly start dropping? With IRIS Central, you can correlate that with their behaviour in recent times and determine:

  • Has something changed?
  • Is there a broader picture?
  • Does the child have special education needs?
  • Is something happening on a larger scale?

You can also filter trust and school-wide information for other signifiers of vulnerability, such as those who get free school meals because their families are on lower incomes.

Clutter-free and simple

Nic from IRIS says: "Central has a modern, zero-clutter, easy-to-use interface. It makes things so simple it feels like cheating.

“With drag and drop, you can feed data into any visualisation you like and customise your own dashboard within a couple of minutes.

“People tell us it’s easier to use than Power BI – which happens to be an important ingredient to Central.”

Clara Walker, Chief Operating Officer at Great Learners Trust, explains: “With IRIS Central, there’s ease of use. The visual nature of the data means we can more easily identify trends and audit anomalies.”

4) Improve outcomes

Data isn’t a one-and-done.

It’s something that needs to be used consistently as a way of looking after pupils.

Without it, you miss the big picture and that can have major consequences.

For instance, a child who’s having a difficult time at home and doesn’t have the right intervention will suffer in both the short and long term.

That’s where IRIS Central helps.

Telling important stories hidden in data

A pupil who’s off every Friday, for example, might be rebelling.

But what if IRIS Central told you their parents had stopped communicating with the school? That suggests something else.

IRIS Central enables you to pull current data from schools, such as attendance, attainment, behaviour and safeguarding.

It can also bring in national benchmark data like IDACI and Ofsted.

With all this data at your fingertips, you can dissect and correlate everything from personal to local issues, from teaching gaps to curriculum shortfalls.

You’ll see what solutions work and what doesn’t.

All this happens in seconds, allowing for rapid intervention.

5) Support trust growth

What if you missed a golden opportunity?

A school could be the perfect fit for your growing organisation.

But then they, their pupils and their funding get snapped up by a rival – something especially painful if you miss an expansion target.

All because another trust saw the match before you did.

Thrive in a competitive landscape

Government data is out there, but using it is like searching for needles in haystacks.

Vast CSV spreadsheets bring a whole new meaning to “unwieldy”, and if you’re trying to make big decisions, compile masses of your own data and focus on students’ futures, competitor analysis will suffer.

“Central shows you the educational landscape, plotted on an easy-to-view map. It highlights what trusts are up to and how you compare, as well as which schools might be perfect additions.

“It also helps integrate new schools – many of which will use different management information systems. That doesn’t matter to Central, as it plays nicely with all software," says Nic.

IRIS Central – your control tower for more effective trust management

IRIS Central enables you to make big decisions quickly and easily while improving outcomes and growing your trust.

It connects data from all systems, simplifying a wealth of school and public data.

Want to find out more about IRIS Central? Click here.