Evidence use

Five websites to understand schools

Schools are fascinating places and everyone has opinions about them.

Unfortunately, we are often blinkered by our own relatively narrow experience as pupils, parents, teachers or concerned citizens.

To fully engage with discussions – without being overly influenced by individual institutions – we need to calibrate our intuitions. We can do this using the rich data available about English Schools.

Here are five of my go to places to calibrate my intuitions.

1. Statistics at DfE

The Department for Education publishes official statistics on education and children. The upside is they hold large amounts of data; this is also the downside.

Making sense of the DfE’s statistics can be fiendishly difficult, but there are two portals that can help:

These DfE sites are useful, but they are not fun.

2. FFT Education Datalab

FFT Education Datalab produces independent, cutting-edge research on education policy and practice.

They are especially good at making sense of the complex array of data held by the DfE and generating fascinating insights. Their blog is always worth a read. If you have never seen it, stop reading this blog and read theirs.

3. School Dash

SchoolDash helps people and organisations to understand schools through data.

I particularly like their interactive maps and their fascinating analysis of the teacher jobs market. Exploring their various tools is an excellent way to calibrate your intuitions about schools.

4. Watchsted

Ofsted visit lots of schools and are potentially a very rich data source to understand the nation’s schools (putting concerns about validity to one side).

Watchsted aims to help spot patterns in the data. Personally, I like looking at the word clouds that you can create.

5. Teacher Tapp

Everyday, Teacher Tapp asks thousands of teachers three questions via an app. These range from the mundane to the bizarre. But – together – they generate fascinating insights into the reality of schools. They also provide a regular, light touch form of professional development.

For me, two features stand out. First, how quickly Teacher Tapp can respond to pressing issues. Their insights during COVID-19 have been remarkable.

Second, is the potential to understand trends over time. Their weekly blog often picks up these trends and no doubt these will become even more fascinating over time.

How do you calibrate your intuitions about schools?