It’s almost that time of year, where schools up and down the country are preparing for Results Day. Juniper Education is largely made up of ex-headteachers, senior leaders and teaching professionals, so when we say we can sympathise with what you are going through, we truly mean it. Louise Joseph, Sisra Data Consultant, Juniper Education, has walked in your shoes, having previously worked as a Data Manager for over 6 years. Louise wanted to offer some words of wisdom, give her top tips, and discuss how to navigate the Results Day ‘jungle’ in our latest blog.
Getting Ready For Results Day: Top Tips
“I was still working as a Data Manager in school last summer and remember the feeling well. The mixed sense of dread and nervous anticipation.
On a recent course, someone who was new to the ‘Data and Exams role’, asked for some survival tips.
Let’s be honest, it can often feel like you’re about to be launched off a helicopter and thrown into the ‘I’m a Celeb’ jungle. Don’t worry though, there is lots of great advice and guidance out there!
All you need to remember is preparation, preparation, preparation! Even for those who have been in the role for years, this still applies.
Ensuring you are well prepared before you leave at the end of term does take time, but it will make the embargo days less daunting, and bit less like ‘I’m a Celeb’. Of course, you cannot always prepare for all eventualities, but it is good to have a back-up plan in case something does go wrong, such as staff illness or no internet connection.
Like most Data Managers, I am a big lover of checklists and spreadsheets. My children hate me for it!”
Sisra Analytics Can Help
Our marketing leading software, Sisra Analytics, is a data-driven pupil assessment tracking system that has some fantastic checklists for KS4 and KS5, with best practice tips to work through. These checklists ensure your Sisra setup is accurate for when you receive your exam results in August. I would always work through these prior to the end of term so that I knew my system was all set up and ready for the Results Days.
We also have checklists with steps to work through on Results Day itself, to ensure your exam grades are uploaded and set up correctly. Things can often get a little hectic on the day, so having these printed off and ready to work through would always ensure that I had a process to follow.
You can find the following checklists within our Sisra Analytics Help Centre, under the Results Day & Exams section.
- KS4: Preparation for Summer Exams 2023
- KS5: Preparation for Summer Exams 2023
- KS4: Summer Exams Checklist 2023
- KS5: Summer Exams Checklist 2023
If you are new to the role, it would be great if you could arrange a visit to another school, whether that be within your trust or a local school. You may also want to come along to one of the free online Sisra Data Meets this term. There will certainly be lots of discussion on preparing for Results Day! For more details and to book your place, click here
Results Day Preparation
So, what kind of preparation can you do for ‘the jungle’?
- Refresh exams base data.
- Set up embargos in your MIS – don’t forget to include yourself and be mindful of JCQ regulations!
- Upload any banked exams (with the appropriate date for first entry rules) to Sisra Analytics.
- Partially complete any LA or Trust returns with as much information as you can e.g. cohort numbers, PP, SEN to cut down on paperwork on the day.
- Ensure all upgrades are applied to your MIS. (I remember with SIMS there was normally a late upgrade that needed to be installed in the last week of term to ensure we could download exam results from the boards on results days!)
- Speak to site staff and ensure you will be able to get into school (myself and the Exam Manager could never sleep the night before so would always arrive at about 6am and be sat outside waiting for someone to unlock the doors!).
- Have a list of entries ready so you can check all the results are in. Ensure your number of target grades match this too, which will ensure your analysis is accurate.
- If you are expecting any results for home languages, external music qualifications etc., create these manually in Sisra Analytics in readiness.
- If you use student admission numbers in Analytics as the student ID, prepare a look up if you want to use the certification broadsheet in SIMS Exams Organiser (as it only contains either the UPN or exam number).
Things to Check
- Check A2C is working, and you can connect to the exam boards. Install it on a second machine too just in case!
- Check that your student data reflects the January Census/Tables Checking Data (students, KS2, SEN & FSM Ever 6 information).
- Check the IT staff have nothing planned which will disrupt your internet connection or access to the server. Also ask them who will be around to provide IT support on Result Days.
- Check with the Business Manager that they haven’t planned to decorate or move your office during those two weeks – I have heard of this happening!
- Check your supplies drawer. You are going to have a long day! Unless you are lucky enough to have a lovely Head of School who will run out to the local Co-op and get you some sugary snacks, you will need to have some lunch and emergency supplies ready.
Things Often Overlooked
- Remind all staff to have their Sisra Analytics logins ready. There will still be that one person that asks for a password reminder!
- Stock up on paper and any other stationery you will need – I think I used to get through my annual allocation of post-it notes in just two weeks!
- Padlock/barricade for the office door – I say this in jest, but politely reiterate to overly keen members of SLT and staff, that producing accurate headlines is easier when left to work undisturbed and not rushed.
- Have a contingency plan in place. You can read more about this here.
“There could, of course, be things that happen outside of your control. However, you should treat these, and any mistakes, as something you can learn from. Plenty of people are going through the same thing; we’re all in the ‘jungle’ right now, but by following these steps, you should encounter less cockroaches and snakes on Results Day!
As always, we’re running our hugely popular Results Day Workshops and Webinars to help you through the planning, upload, and analysis of exam results at KS4 and KS5. You can view the full range of events on offer here.
I’m a Data Manager… get me out of here!
Good luck everyone!”