Understanding Data: Enabling pupil progress through effective data analysis

Understanding Data: Enabling pupil progress through effective data analysis

Primary, Secondary
Oct 2012


"If data is used in the right way with the right skills it should therefore be able to unlock the potential of each student."

Elizabeth Smith, Can the use of data and testing identify potential in children? Teaching, Learning & Pastoral Hub, Optimus Education 2012

Understanding Data uses six practical sessions to train leaders, teachers, governors and parents in techniques for handling and analysing data, empowering them to use data effectively to support pupil learning and progress.

This practical resource focuses on embedding generic data analysis processes that can be applied to any data set so staff will consistently be able to use data confidently without the need for continuous CPD.  It equips them to successfully set targets, monitor progress, identify learners who need extra support and create timely interventions.


People who take Understanding Data training will be able to:

  • Use all data effectively, establishing its reliability and analysing it for patterns
  • Improve provision for struggling pupils by using data monitoring to identify areas of slow progress
  • Tackle underachievement by providing early intervention for learners who are at risk of failing to meet goals
  • Evaluate suitable interventions by using data alongside professional judgement
  • Improve performance by setting challenging goals designed to accelerate progress
  • Overcome fear of data by understanding how it can be used positively to find and serve pupils whose needs are not currently best met
  • Increase the contribution of governors and parents by helping them to understand data.

Why buy an Optimus Education DIY Training resource?

Understanding Data: Enabling pupil progress through effective data analysis is part of the Optimus Education D-I-Y (deliver it yourself) training portfolio. Our D-I-Y training packages provide:

  • value for money – training sessions can be delivered multiple times to different groups of staff
  • comprehensive training materials – detailed training plans, presentations, handouts and a variety of practical activities to engage participants are all provided in the package
  • flexibility – training sessions can be customised with case studies, questions or exercises which are specific to your school’s needs
  • excellent quality – the training materials have been written by experienced trainers with expertise in the topic area; you benefit from their knowledge and guidance
  • measurable outcomes – each package includes ways to monitor effectiveness and learning outcomes.


Summary of contents

The 6 sessions in Understanding Data focus on the skills needed by different members of the education community, enabling all staff and stakeholders to understand and practice the key uses of data.

  • Monitor pupil progress and spot underperformance
  • Set challenging targets with clear aims
  • Create interventions to accelerate progression
  • Present data to colleagues, governors, parents and Ofsted

Session Breakdown

Training Session 1 - Understanding Effective Data Analysis as a Senior Manager or Senior Leader

Learning Outcomes:

  • Evaluate external and internal sources of data for credibility and relevance
  • Monitor the quality of internal data used to track performance
  • Create appropriate whole-school targets
  • Analyse pupil progress data
  • Present to governors, department leaders and teachers on the process of using data to improve performance

Training Session 2 - Understanding Data as a Governor

Learning Outcomes:

  • Describe the data currently collected and analysed by the school
  • Explain how targets are set and monitored at the whole-school and individual pupil level
  • Use a framework for asking challenging questions during monitoring and intervention planning

Training Session 3 - Understanding Data as a Lead Teacher or Head of Department: Target Setting

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand the target-setting process for pupils
  • Consider the most appropriate data sources for estimating pupil achievements
  • Create reasonable predictions and challenging targets for pupils
  • Hypothesise potential issues with creating challenging targets
  • Create solutions for resolving issues with challenging targets

Training Session 4 - Understanding Data as a Lead Teacher or Head of Department: Monitoring Progress

Learning Outcomes:

  • Monitor pupil progress towards challenging targets
  • Use a framework for asking challenging questions about the reliability and accuracy of progress data
  • Analyse progress data to identify pupils not progressing as expected
  • Identify potential reasons for pupils not progressing as expected
  • Create interventions to enable pupils to progress as expected

Training Session 5 - Understanding Data: Whole Staff Training

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand the difference between an estimate, prediction and target grade
  • Follow a process for setting realistically challenging targets
  • Analyse progress data to find pupils posing a potential or immediate concern
  • Analyse possible reasons for lack of expected pupil progress towards targets
  • Create interventions to aid pupils in achieving their expected progress

Training Session 6 - Communicating Data to Parents: Form Tutor Training

Learning Outcomes:

  • Talk with parents about their child’s progress
  • Plan ways to communicate about data and its uses for parents
  • Set targets to improve academic progress

About the expert

Laura McInerney is a teacher, senior leader, ITE trainer and researcher. She is experienced in promoting and embedding the use of data to inform targets and teaching and has a particular interest in learner analytics.


  • A4 Ringbinder, c. 64 pages
  • CD-ROM containing PowerPoint presentations and accompanying resources
  • Presentations, handouts and any other editable resources are provided on a CD-ROM.


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