The Importance of Data and Context

The Importance of Data and Context


What do we do?


Over a number of years we have developed a rigorous, research-driven model for continuous and sustained improvement in schools. We can help to raise standards through:

  1. Supporting school evaluation;
  2. Supporting school improvement planning;
  3. Supporting leadership development and capacity;
  4. Supporting mathematics and statistics teaching.

We can provide a fully supported school improvement programme or schools can choose which aspects of the programme they wish us to provide.


The school evaluation services that we offer are very different from either OFSTED inspection or school self-evaluation in three crucial respects. Firstly, the work undertaken is very much done with the full and active participation of the school’s leaders. Secondly, it includes a strong and vital element of independent external validation of judgements. Thirdly, we focus on providing a detailed analysis of the school context, alongside which subsequent professional judgements are set, by employing a robust research methodology that involves gathering, statistically analysing and interpreting data and other evidence followed by an accurate evaluation and critical reflection of the existing situation.  We employ five data-driven and research-based evaluation techniques: 

Stakeholder Analyses

We conduct a comprehensive analysis of pupils’ and other stakeholders' perceptions of the school using a peer-reviewed questionnaire, triangulated with focus group interviews. Where possible we survey the opinions of ALL pupils, staff and parents. The responses are rigorously analysed to statistically identify school strengths and areas for improvement. Clients receive a detailed report of the findings and conclusions, together with recommendations on how the findings can support sustained and continuous improvement. For more information on our comprehensive analysis of pupil perceptions please click here to see our new blog article.

Curriculum Analyses and Staff Deployment

We undertake a rigorous analysis of your curriculum and deployment of staff using our comprehensive spreadsheet management tool. Once completed this spreadsheet will effectively summarise the data for leaders and governors, including critical curriculum ratios. This is a year round process and we therefore train key staff on how to maintain the spreadsheet so that it is always up-to-date. Schools are encouraged to work on a shadow version of the spreadsheet for the next academic year since the same tool also acts as a complete timetable planning instrument that will ensure effective management of the curriculum and efficient deployment of staff. This is a critical document that informs the annual budget setting process.

Tracking and Analysis of Pupil Data

We will share our pupil tracking template and our methodology for tracking  and analysing all aspects of pupil data. This approach gathers only the most important information into a single spreadsheet from the schools information management system. This data includes: pupils' characteristics, achievement and progress, attendance and behaviour and specific learning needs If necessary we can modify this template to meet individual school needs. Once the tracking tool is established we can undertake a detailed analysis of the for the school and implement an approach to using pupil progress meetings with key staff to identify specific targeted support and interventions to improve progress.

Observation of Provision

We provide a detailed data collection and recording tool in the form of an App to gather observations of all aspects of the school’s provision, including: detailed classroom observations; work scrutiny; leadership  walks and other  observations of pupils in social and extra curricular time. We collect all of the information for you remotely into a single spreadsheet and then analyse the data prior to compiling the findings into a detailed report.

Auditing Leadership Effectiveness

We compile evidence to assess leadership effectiveness through separate audits of critical aspects of the work of the school. In addition to the above, this includes: an audit of safeguarding arrangements; an evaluation of performance management procedures; a review of school policies; an analysis of the school budget and arrangements for financial monitoring; etc. Spreadsheet-based tools developed over many years are used to assist with the conduct of these audits.

The data and other evidence gathered whilst undertaking any of these evaluation activities is rigorously analysed and interpreted using a range of multivariate statistical techniques and other research-based methods. In each case a detailed final report will synthesise all of the triangulated evidence into a single summarising document that will conclude with key findings and specific recommendations for school improvement.


We support school leaders with the design of an improvement and change strategy that is directly informed by our relevant and detailed academic research into which strategies have the biggest impact on rapid improvement. This is important because often too much time is wasted reinventing the wheel or not knowing what needs to be done to address a weakness in the provision. Consequently, we provide support to devise key planning documents and provide advice on how best to ensure the school stays on track with its strategic Improvement plans. We provide specific support with:

Strategic Planning

We can assist with developing strategic development plans and annual management plans that cover all operational aspects of the school, including: directed time calculations; on-line calendars and scheduling of all critical tasks and events in the school year. We can streamline the construction of action plans based on our extensive school improvement knowledge of what strategies are best used to sustain improvement and high standards. We also provide advice on how best to monitor and objectively evaluate new initiatives.

Financial Planning and Monitoring

We provide practical support and guidance on constructing budget plans and monitoring their impact using a specially-designed spreadsheet tool developed for this very purpose;

Timetable Planning and Construction 

We help with Implementing a comprehensive design for the curriculum, setting out agreed curriculum planning procedures and a strategy for constructing the school timetable to achieve the schools aims and vision, which deploys teachers, support staff and other school resources in the most efficient and effective way. If necessary we can provide a training programme for those tasked with writing the timetable or undertake the construction of the timetable for you.

Effective Organisational Arrangements

We assist with designing or reviewing the school's leadership arrangements, which includes: constructing a comprehensive annotated staffing structure and diagram; establishing job descriptions; providing HR support; advising schools on how to hold staff to account for their specific areas in which they are responsible and identifying staff training requirements. Please clear click here to read our blog article on improving organisational effectiveness.

School Policies and Procedures

We provide support with shaping school policies and procedures to take account of the school's context and needs of pupils. This includes designing and implementing a concise and easy-to-use website that contains all crucial information and policies for staff, pupils, families and carers.


We work alongside school colleagues at all levels to build their capacity as leaders, by:

Training and Coaching

Providing school Improvement training and/or coaching (as appropriate) for leaders, teachers, support staff, Governors and parents in line with strategic imperatives identified in the Improvement action plan.

Evaluations of School Effectiveness

Reviewing and, if necessary, recommending changes to the school's self-evaluation timetable and procedures to ensure that the school's standards/outcomes, quality of provision and effectiveness of leadership and management are continuously and routinely monitored, regularly reported on and thereby kept under rigorous review and scrutiny.

Undertaking School Improvement Projects

Undertaking specific and time-limited externally managed school Improvement projects that form part of the agreed school improvement plan.

Supporting the Governing Body

Providing more detailed and/or focused support for the school’s governing body related to any aspect of the work of the school about which they need (or want) to be better informed.

Supporting with HR Issues 

We can provide bespoke support with HR issues, including managing staff underperformance.

Providing Interim Leadership Solutions

We strive to support the development of leadership capacity at all levels within schools, including Headteachers and governors. If required this can included  interim leadership solutions that fulfill headship or other senior leadership team responsibilities on a short term basis for up to a year. Our aim is always to keep the school improving and highly effective whilst important positions are filled.


Mathematics Teaching

We provide specific support with improving the quality of mathematics teaching in schools. This can take the form of coaching support for teachers, taking classes on an interim basis or organised group seminars and conferences for students. 

One-to-one or Small Group Tutoring

We can provide tutoring for individual students or small groups in mathematics and statististics at GCSE, A-Level (including Further Mathematics) and beyond.

Analysing and Interpreting Data

We can be commisioned to gather, analyse and interpret large data sets from within the education sector and other contexts using a wide range of multivariate statistical tests. We always adhere to the BERA guidelines.

Supporting Research

We can support individual research projects being undertaken by individuals, schools, higher education establishment or private companies.


A Professional Approach

We take immense pride in the high quality of the support provided to schools; either in the form of training and coaching support, analysis of evidence and written documents supplied for Governors, senior leadership teams, local authorities, dioceses, academy proprietors, trusts or other controlling bodies. Whether we undertake short or long-term commissioned assignments for schools or other education providers, we take our responsibilities to you seriously. 

Project Planning

At an early stage, the following will be discussed and agreed with the client and ourselves:

  1. The scope of the commissioned support;
  2. Agreed outcomes and reporting mechanisms;
  3. The total number of days required to complete the work;
  4. The spread of days over a defined period;
  5. How the required work will be staged over time.


Prior to starting the commission, a 'schedule of works as part of an IR-35 compliant contract' will be drawn up which is agreed and signed by the client.


We provide regular written reports and verbal feedback to school leaders, governors and other appropriate audiences. Our feedback is always thorough, independent, informed and clear.

Monitoring and Evaluation

All aspects of support provided for schools is monitored and evaluated by gathering anonymous feedback via an online evaluation questionnaire. The feedback is used to further improve our work and the findings are shared with client schools or their representatives.

Dr Philip Cross
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