Data interpretation tool presentation

Interpreting and acting
on your survey results
A process facilitation tool
Why a process tool?
Along with this tool you will have received
the results from your school and/or your
design hub’s engagement survey.
Our guess is this won’t be the only data set
you’ll receive in school this month. Or even
this week.
The challenge with data like these is not to
make them interesting – all data are
interesting up to a point. The challenge is to
make them useful - to make it possible,
imperative even, for data to be shared,
argued over and interpreted and turned into
ideas and actions that affect the way we
think and behave.
This tool sets out a simple process which invites
people to interrogate their engagement data
from their own perspectives and experiences.
Working together, small groups identify key
insights from the survey results that they
consider are worth exploring through discussion
and further investigation.
After a short and agreed period of time, groups
report on their investigations to a wider
audience, ideally the whole staff, and make
recommendations that arise from their findings.
The whole process should ideally be completed
within six to eight weeks – or half a semester.
Much of the process that follows can be adapted to
suit your context. But there are two non negotiable
Rule 1: There must be groups of students as well as
groups of teachers invited to take part. Student
groups should be discrete, but supported by adults to
help them gain the access they need to carry out
their investigation.
Rule 2: There must be visible support and
commitment from a recognisable leadership team
(e.g. school senior team), represented by a powerful
named individual to take responsibility for the
The process in stages
Stage 1
Interpretation workshop
1a. Individuals
complete the survey
as a student they
know or teach
1b. Compare
responses in pairs and
take a guess at what
might be in the data
1c. Review the data in
groups of 4 – 6 to see
how accurate their
guesses were
Stage 3
Stage 2
What else are these data telling us? Each group identifies 3 positive
findings and 6 areas for improvement. Then choose from among the
areas for improvement, one issue for further investigation.
Investigation groups
1.Find out
2. Design a
investigation groups
1. Find out
2. Design a
Secure leadership team
support for findings and
Investigation and leadership teams together
present findings and strategies to
the whole school
Stage 1
Interpretation Workshop(s)
Stage 1 sets out a suggested workshop plan,
which could be completed in 1.5 to 2 hours.
Ideally the workshop would be run as a whole
school, with some groups of students in the
room too.
If that’s too difficult to organise then a mixed
group (teachers/students from different subjects
or year groups) would be great.
If your school is very busy then co-opting
existing departmental meetings could work too.
Remember, however you do this, there must be
an explicit leadership presence in each
workshop and an opportunity for students to
engage too. After all – these are their data.
Stage 2
Investigation teams
find out more
In stage 1, groups are formed around a question or
idea that arises for them out of the engagement data
In stage 2, these groups are supported to conduct a
short investigation to help them learn more about
and explain the finding that caught their attention.
They may decide to interview some students and
teachers; observe some classes; run focus or
discussion groups; meet parents; take a look at
what's happening in other schools; or search for
research that helps them work out what’s behind the
It’s a good idea to set a time limit for this stage – say
3 weeks. This process works best when activity is
focused and intensive.
The investigation is complete when the group is
confident that they understand their chosen issue in
sufficient depth and detail to be able to do something
about it.
Stage 2
Investigation teams
design a strategy
Having learned more about their chosen issue,
groups are next supported to design a strategy for
tackling it. This is true for the student groups as well
as the adults.
Groups are invited to prepare a presentation to
senior leaders which summarises the findings of their
investigation and sets out some ideas and
recommendations, supported by the evidence they
gathered e.g. from other schools or from research.
If there’s time, groups ideally ‘rehearse’ their
presentations with one another first. This means
they can draw on critical friendship in a kind of peer
review process and they can spot early any
similarities or conflicts in their recommendations, to
which they can refer or resolve through collaboration.
This is a critical moment for the person appointed to
lead this process. Groups should be encouraged to
be bold and ambitious; at the same time any
constraints (real ones only) must be made known to
them, so they can choose to work within these – or
challenge them.
Stage 3
Secure leadership support
In a closed meeting, investigation groups present to
the leadership team their findings, ideas and
Members of the leadership team are invited to
question the presenters, to interrogate their evidence
and to present alternative interpretations, where they
have a different view.
The aim of this discussion is to arrive at a joint
strategy for acting on the ideas and
recommendations presented. Groups are securing
leadership support and the resources that come with
that, and negotiating for the opportunity to test their
ideas with the wider staff, students and parents.
Leaders are contributing in ways that might make
ideas more attractive, affordable, workable etc. etc.
By the end of the meeting each group should have
an outline strategy, resourced and supported by one
or more leaders to present to their colleagues; both
staff and students.
Stage 3
Whole school meeting
In this final stage of the process, investigating groups
and the leadership team together present their
strategies to a wider group of staff and students.
Ideally in the case of staff this would be a whole
school meeting.
Short presentations from each group summarising
their findings, their rationale and their strategy are
followed by discussion groups with staff and
There are several ways to organise this meeting
depending on how many investigation groups are
presenting. One might be for staff to hear all the
presentations and then choose a group to join for a
deeper discussion. Another might be to send out a
summary of each group’s strategy as pre reading
and then run elective groups from the outset.
The aim is to create an opportunity for a wider group
to engage with the process of implementation, which
might involve some experiments and pilots, and
might even give rise to some new investigations…..
The leadership role
Critical to the success of this process is the
leadership provided by one key individual, mandated
by the leadership team to ‘make it happen’.
Investigation teams, both staff and student varieties,
will need: confidence that they have leadership
support; access to resources and to people; help
with setting up meetings; and time and space to
They may also need: facilitation of their meetings,
especially at the beginning; ‘ground clearing’ if their
ideas start to bump up against ‘how we do things
here’ barriers; a heads up on any real constraints –
financial or legal for instance; and management of
any negative forces in the staff room or leadership
Put simply this role requires someone with ambition,
imagination and energy and a positive disposition to
change; someone open to being surprised and
delighted by new ideas from unexpected sources
and inspired by the prospect of broad engagement
and action by staff and students alike.

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