Education

The education sector is rich with data. Schools, colleges and universities, local and central government collect and publish data on many aspects of education. To really begin to understand what works in education we need to look deeper than the headline statistics; we have to use statistical analysis to drill down into the data. We help those working in educational organisations to answer their key questions by applying suitable analysis techniques to appropriate data and providing usable outcomes.

Surveys are a Valuable Means of Understanding Attitudes or Opinions

Surveys can help you evaluate your students’ experience, understand parents’ or staff views or to monitor well-being. With a survey, you can go beyond anecdotal evidence and gather data on ‘softer’ outcomes which are more difficult to quantify than more readily available performance indicators and statistics. We understand the qualities that contribute to good survey design, the importance of minimising non-response, and the analysis techniques that are available. We can help you create a well-designed survey, and can analyse the results. We can advise you on sampling strategies and sample sizes to ensure that your data is representative and unbiased, enabling you to draw valid conclusions. If you wish to delve deeper and gain more insight we can help organise focus groups or analysis of free text.

Being able to quantify opinions and views provides you with valuable evidence, which can be used to inform decision-making, identify strengths and weaknesses, measure changes or maintain standards over time.

Evaluation of Initiatives, Programmes or Products

Being able to demonstrate the effectiveness of your initiative or educational product or service is invaluable. Evidence of your effectiveness may help you negotiate funding, publish your results, or attract more customers.

We can analyse data that you hold or are collecting. Alternatively, or in addition, we can use publicly-available data that is published by organisations such as the Department for Education, the Higher Education Statistics Agency or the Office for National Statistics. By working closely with you, we will choose the most appropriate statistical model to apply given the nature of your data and the outcome that you wish to explore. We can identify and select the most suitable comparison group. Our analyses can look for correlations or for differences across groups, while taking account of other important, associated background factors, for example student demographics, previous outcomes, or different levels of engagement.

Through careful design and clear reporting we will ensure that our results and interpretation are as robust as possible, providing you with the independent evidence you are looking for.

Predicting the Future

With increasing demands on funding it is important that limited resources are allocated appropriately. By understanding demand for school places or which college or university courses are attractive to students you can plan for future capacity. We can use statistical models with past data to monitor trends and to help you forecast likely demand for services or future numbers of learners. Our analyses can, for example, forecast demand for SEN provision, identify which courses are most in demand, predict likely Ofsted ratings from schools’ background and GCSE results.

Data Visualisation

With a wealth of data being available from so many sources, it is not always easy to see the bigger picture. Real insight is gained when we combine data and present it in a way that clearly shows the patterns and results. Showing data visually not only makes it easier to make comparisons or to look for differences, a well designed and clear graphic can also be an effective way to communicate complex results, or to convey key information. We can work with you to make your data or results more accessible by creating online dashboards, bespoke reports of group or sub-level analyses, or well designed charts and infographics.

We work with a wide range of clients from individuals, businesses and charities to government organisations. So whether you are a school or a multi-academy trust looking to compare students across classes, schools or over time; a provider of educational resources or services looking to demonstrate the effectiveness of your programme compared to others in the market; or a local or national organisation looking to design and analyse a study or to evaluate an initiative – we can help.

Universities

In an increasingly competitive sector, universities often need to understand how they are perceived by prospective students and their parents. They also need to know the provision, facilities and ethos that would be successful in attracting more applications. Here are a few of the ways that statistical analysis provides a more complete and accurate understanding:

  • Evaluating and monitoring the student experience and student engagement for university managers and student bodies.
  • Design and analysis of bespoke student and staff surveys.
  • Analysis of existing surveys such as the National Student Survey and the Student Barometer.
  • Understanding applicants: why do they apply and why might they reject an offer?
  • Which are the best courses and why? How do your courses compare to those at other universities? What new courses might be popular?
  • Monitor trends and predict student numbers for new and existing courses.

Schools and Colleges

In many parts of the country schools and FE colleges need to attract students to maintain their financial stability. They also need to predict as accurately as possible how many students they will have, the subjects they will be studying and what special support they might need. Statistical analysis provides the data they need to plan effectively. Here are some of the ways we can help:

  • Gauge attitudes and perceptions, evaluate initiatives, programmes or policies, and gain insight into the view of different stakeholder groups e.g., students, staff, parents and governors.
  • Design and analysis of bespoke questionnaires.
  • Actionable intelligence to support teaching and learning (e.g., which teaching methods are most effective).
  • Training for governors and senior management teams on how to use school performance statistics and Ofsted data from, for example, DfE’s Analyse School Performance service.
  • Clearer communication to students, parents, teachers and governors of test results and performance metrics.
  • Predicting Ofsted inspection results and prioritising resources to ensure better outcomes
  • Comparing performance between schools to identify areas where performance could be improved.

Education Authorities

Education authorities have a legal responsibility to ensure that adequate provision exists, to monitor performance, and in particular for the attainment and progress of looked after children and those with special educational needs. Data analysis ranges from large scale demographic data to predict cohort sizes down to highly targeted analysis of individual institutions or groups of students. Specific areas where we help include:

  • Comparing and monitoring school performance across the region and with statistically similar areas and institutions.
  • Modelling future student numbers to support more accurate planning of school building and development programmes.
  • Evaluating the progress and attainment of specific groups of students such as SEN or children in care.
  • Ensuring that special needs provision is adequate and monitoring performance.
  • Multi-level modelling to help account for clusters and groups (e.g., regions or schools) and to understand how different factors affect results at different levels of aggregation.

Education Charities and Commercial Organisations

Typically these national organisations want to understand the bigger picture in order to influence government policy. Statistical techniques are used to assess provision and performance at a national level perhaps by subject or for specific special interest groups such as ethnic minorities, disadvantaged pupils, or mature students. Statistical analysis is essential in assessing different teaching practices and resources.  Areas where statistics lead to clearer understanding and more effective policy making include:

  • Curriculum development and matching subjects to the skills required to sustain and grow the economy.
  • Understanding the impact of education policy and practices both generally, by gender and for special interest groups such as, ethnic minorities and disadvantaged students.
  • Developing products, procedures and tools to support teaching and learning and to evaluate their performance.

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