Well-managed data and information flow within a school can help to strengthen mutual under- standing and collaboration among all concerned persons. within a school environment, data and information can flow among four main groups of people (see diagram 3 below):
- school manager
- administrative personnel
The flow of information may also extend to immediate stakeholder bodies, such as the School Management Board, Parent-Teacher Association, Village education Committee, and Student Council (if it exists).
5.1 in-school data flow
The flow of data within a school begins when a teacher or administrative personnel collects and records data, such as information about a student, a class, a school activity and/or a financial transaction related to, for example, the purchase of a piece of equipment. in doing so, they create a school record which will be a tool to carry the flow of data. initially, the data on record will be transferred to the school management office for organized storage, and for authorized persons to access the records and use the data and information.
Data flow through the use of school records usually occurs following schedules that are based on the calendar of school activities, as well as according to defined rules and procedures that govern access to and usage of information with in a school. Frequent two-way communications can occur between the school manager and other school personnel who are responsible for maintaining and updating specific school records to ensure that the schedules and procedures are respected.
When it comes to accessing and using the data in the school records, further interactions between the school manager, teachers and students can occur regarding the timeliness, reliability and completeness of the data, and the way these data are recorded, updated and used. depending on the type of recorded data and information (e.g., data on student attendance and performance, or data on the use of various facilities and teaching/learning materials), such in-school interactions can help in many instances to further improve the quality of the recorded data.
Special attention must be paid to ensure that no unauthorized persons have access to school records, especially those that contain personal or financial details. Rules and procedures about which school personnel can access which record must be clearly defined and enforced. in principle, people should only have access to the records they need in order to perform their duties. For example, the school manager and administrative personnel usually have access to all school records, whereas the teachers may only access records about the classes and students they teach. Students may be allowed to access their own student records and test/examination results.
5.2 information dissemination within a school
Although certain school records may not be directly accessible because they contain personal or financial data, the data in the records can be used to produce various summaries that contain non-confidential or aggregated information that can be shared within the school and with the public. Such summaries can be created by extracting, listing or tallying the data from individual school recordsand included in information products such as:
- summary tables of the number of students by grade, class, sex, age or performance.
- summary lists of students who participate in various school activities
- graphs depicting changes over the past years in terms of student enrolment and the number of classes and teachers
- charts showing the structure of school personnel and of the school management board
- school calendar indicating major school activities and events.
Besides actual counts, these summary tables and graphs can show various school and class indicators in the form of percentages, ratios, growth rates, etc. These information products can be posted on the school board, and/or incorporated into brochures and the school’s website. They can also be copied and distributed either on paper or electronically to the teachers, students and community members.
5.3 Managing data and information flow in school
Efforts to improve the flow and usage of data and information within the school can help to build the capacity among school personnel for evidence-based management. The ultimate goal is to form a culture that encourages the active production, flow and use of data for informed decision- making in school.
It is the role and responsibility of the school manager to set rules, procedures and schedules to govern the flow of data and maximize their usage. Such rules and schedules may govern:
- communication between the school manager and teachers – these rules specify the kind of data teachers must collect and record, and the feedback the school manager must provide to the teachers such as indicators regarding students’ attendance rates, performance by subject and behaviour, and other issues that need the teacher’s attention.
- administration personnel-teacher communication – in terms of the flow of data between teachers and the administration personnel about the school’s operations, class and student management, and the use and administration of the school’s facilities, school personnel, materials and financial resources.
- school manager-administrative personnel communication – about the summary information to be regularly produced and submitted by the administrative personnel on the functioning of the school, and the feedback instructions and queries to be provided by the school manager.
- communications among teachers – teachers communicate with each other about issues such as class scheduling, coordination of contents and methods, teacher absence and replacement, student characteristics, performance, behaviour and issues.
Discuss with school managers, teachers and administrative personnel to identify issues about data flow and dissemination of information within schools, good practices and lessons learned. Then, answer the following questions:
For school managers and personnel:
- How does the flow of data and information function within your school compare to what has been mentioned in the sections above?
- What kind of problems and issues do you face regarding data flow and information dissemination within your school? why?
- What action can be taken to improve data and information flow within your school? How do you propose to go about implementing such action?
For district and local education officers, school inspectors:
- How does the flow of data and information function within the schools in your area as compared to what has been mentioned in the sections above?
- What kind of problems and issues do the schools in your area face regarding data flow and information dissemination within your school? why?
- What action can be taken to improve data and information flow within the schools in your area? How do you propose to go about helping the schools in your area to implement such action?
For central and provincial education administrators:
- What can be done at your level to improve data and information flow within the schools in your country/province? How do you propose to go about implementing such action?
Discuss with other school managers and personnel about designing various kinds of in-school information dissemination tools including those indicated in Section 4.2
Discuss with other school managers and personnel about how best to define rules and regulations, procedures and schedules governing data flow, access and information dissemination within the school.