Your school needs to be performing at its maximum in order to get the most out of staff, resources and, as a result, students. Benchmarking is a great first step into driving growth and performance for your school. You need to know where you’re starting from at the beginning of your growth trajectory.
Benchmarking enables you to get a full understanding of the market you occupy, as well as the other schools within it, and how your school fits into that market. So, what is benchmarking for independent schools, and how do you use your data to identify how well your school is performing?
- What is benchmarking for schools?
- The benefits of benchmarking for schools
- How to analyse your data and school performance
- iSAMS Central for independent school benchmarking
What is benchmarking for schools?
In its simplest form, benchmarking does what it says on the tin. Benchmarking is comparing yourself against a benchmark or standard. Typically, performance is measured against external criteria, such as the performance of the market that your business occupies – for example.
For schools, there are a variety of areas that you might look to benchmark. It’s important to analyse performance in order to get a better understanding of external market performance and how your school measures up to expectations.
You might look to measure your school against the best in the space, or an industry average – depending on your individual goals. Benchmark categories might include:
Your school data is the key to effectively benchmarking your school. Your MIS contains data on individual students, their performance, their wellbeing, attendance data and more. Clean and secure data stores are the first step to benchmarking for schools.
The benefits of benchmarking for schools
As a school, your primary focus is to provide students with the best education and school experience possible. Your students will always be the priority. But your students aren’t the only ones that benefit from school benchmarking. Analysing and contextualising school performance is key to sustained growth for your entire school community, including internal departments and leadership teams.
- Improve student outcomes and performance: The better you understand your students' successes and weaknesses, the more effectively you can target those with your curriculum and future education planning. A full understanding of student performance only improves the learning experience for the students of the future.
- Increase efficiency and financial performance: Understanding your school’s daily operations and how each department is performing can help you to optimise your resources and time. Focus on improving processes that are time consuming for an all-round boost in time management and efficiency. The more effectively your resources are utilised across your school, the better value for money those resources become, too.
- Better position your school: Benchmarking isn’t just about looking internally. Your benchmark or standard helps you to better understand the market in which your school operates. Identify where your competitors are falling short, and make sure that your school proves your ability in all areas by comparison.
- Boost department performance: Identify where the performance lies in each department. For example, how is your admissions department performing against targets or standards? If stats are positive, recognise that. If the department needs a boost, take the time to understand where further support is needed.
- Identify new ideas and initiatives: Benchmarking is half the journey towards school growth. The next step is to take what you have learned and any data points that your benchmarking has provided and build on those. Use this data to back up and contextualise exciting new initiatives and ideas for leadership teams.
How to analyse your data and school performance
You’ve decided to work on benchmarking your school and truly analysing school-wide performance – but where do you start?
The benchmarking process will be different for each individual school depending on your available data and your goals, but there are some key steps to every detailed school analysis:
- Clean and organised data: Your school data needs to be in a clean and manageable format in order to carry out a thorough analysis. Without it, any key data points or analytics could be inaccurate.
- Identify your target areas: What information do you really want to get out of your data? How do you want to measure yourself against other schools? You need to know what areas of school performance are the most important indicators to you.
- Collate your chosen competitors: Who are your admissions team competing against? This might be schools in your locality or schools that have a similar offering to your school. You need to identify where your potential or lost students and parents are making applications.
- Identify data trends: When analysing your data against your target areas, what trends are appearing and how are the results measuring up to your competitors?
- Generate action plans and goals: Once you have palatable insights from your analysis and can compare to your market or competition, you need to create a plan to reach your target and continue positive growth. How are you going to make sure you stand above the competition?
- Continuously monitor trends and results: As you enact your action plan, it’s important to make sure your efforts are pushing your school in the right direction. Continue to monitor your data and compare against benchmarks at regular intervals to understand what’s working and what isn’t.
iSAMS Central for independent school benchmarking
Let your software assist in your benchmarking process by providing you with clean and usable school data and powerful data analytics. The iSAMS MIS and our school reporting solution, iSAMS Central, work in tandem to help you understand what your data is trying to tell you and unlock your school’s full data story. Use the Central data analytics technology to identify your school trends, then use that information to benchmark against others in the industry.
However, it’s also important to remember that benchmarking is half the journey towards school development and growth. Your benchmark process needs to be the foundation that allows you to create actionable insights and plans as the next step. Ultimately, your data is important because it empowers your decision making.
iSAMS Central was built to provide you with all the data that you need to make smarter decisions for your school in a palatable format for all school departments. Power BI, API, and data visualisation technology make harnessing your data as efficient and seamless as possible. Unlock trends in attendance, admissions, wellbeing, behaviour, and more.
Interested in learning more about Central? You can watch a full demo below.