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Creating an automated and tailored experience for progress reporting with your schools:
Mosaic reflections

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Written by Paul Mallaband, Co-Founder of Penrose Education

28 April 2023


Collecting and approving progress reports and formal assessments of ECTs sits at the heart of an Appropriate Body’s responsibilities, this being the key mechanism for understanding how ECTs are progressing, whether they are being supported effectively and crucially whether any further intervention with the school is required.

Whilst a seemingly straightforward requirement on the surface, anyone who has been working in an Appropriate Body (AB) will know that administering these reports across many ECTs can become fiendishly complex. This complexity can lead to an extremely onerous process for ABs (and sometimes for ECTs and Induction Tutors as well).

With the help of one of our (Mosaic platform for ABs) customers, One Cumbria, and working closely with the AB market more broadly, we have attempted to answer the question of how this reporting can be done efficiently (reducing workload), effectively (ensuring the right insights about ECT progress are gained), and in a way that strengthens relationships with partner schools.

What does an effective reporting system look like?

“In terms of outcomes, an effective process for reporting comes down to three things:

  • Tutors and ECTs should know when reports are to be submitted and what those reports look like,
  • Information contained within the reports should be of high quality, and
  • ECTs know if they are on track to successfully complete their induction”.

– Tina Beddoe, ECF lead, One Cumbria


Why so onerous?

To set the scene, let’s briefly examine two key reasons why progress reporting and assessment can take a lot of work to get right:

1. For ECTs who don’t start in September on a full-time basis simply figuring out when reports are due can be a real headache. This is further exacerbated by ECTs changing their plans throughout the 2-year induction – perhaps they change schools without completing a term? Or go on parental leave, or negotiate a different contract rate with their school? All of these will impact when reports are due, and it’s the AB’s responsibility to get this right.

2. Tracking reports for completion and progress data can be laborious. How do we know, at a glance, which induction tutors need chasing, or which ECTs need further intervention?

“Prior to using Mosaic, non-standard induction was very time consuming. We had to use a calculator to try and work out when ECTs were due formal assessments...

... reporting and assessment used to be extremely time-consuming, reports having to be emailed between Tutors/Heads/ECTs then back to AB. Keeping track of those returned on spreadsheets wasn’t ideal either, being very open to errors. This process meant chasing up emails with partner schools, which wasn’t conducive to a positive relationship”.

– Tina Beddoe, ECF lead, One Cumbria

What does a good system look like?

At Penrose Education, when we think about designing systems for providers engaged in teacher development, we generally divide problems into two categories:

1. Problems where the solution is well-defined and always has an exact answer

=> These problems can (and should always be) automated.

2. Problems where professional judgement is required

=> These problems require an understanding of context, flexibility in design and, above all, a fantastic user experience that enables those making the judgements to do so without distraction.

When thinking about reporting and assessment processes, we, therefore, come to the following conclusions:

1. Figuring out when progress reports and assessments are due, releasing these to schools and collecting the data should be a completely automated process. 

Given the right information about an ECTs contract and induction events (pauses, contract changes etc.), and equipped with the induction rules set out by the DfE, any system designed to solve this problem should be able to manage this without intervention from an AB administrator.

2. What information is collected, and the action taken with this information (e.g. whether the ECT feels well supported by their school), will always require professional judgement.

Any system employed by ABs to provide tailored support to individual ECTs must be easily customisable, allowing the AB to collect any information they feel is necessary to support professional judgement on any intervention planning. The system must then also make it easy for them to engage with, so that the intervention itself, rather than data collection and processing, is where most AB efforts can go.

Professional judgement on the part of induction tutors in schools is, of course, also required. The system must therefore also make this process effortless, so induction tutors can focus on providing a rich and accurate picture of their ECTs’ progress.

What could seamless automation look like for ABs?

An ECT’s induction can be most simply described by a set of events e.g. they started in September at school A, became part-time in April, went on maternity leave in July and started at a new school the following March. This is how the information comes in from schools, and also all that is needed to predict and automate reporting processes.

A great system automates this process as follows:

  • Easily captures all events (and relevant information) that impact induction and reporting processes
  • From these events, calculates an induction timeline, including when reports are due
  • Generates reports at the appropriate time for each ECT
  • Reminds users when reports are due (/overdue)
  • Summarises data from reports as the data comes in from induction tutors, head teachers and ECTs
  • Always allows for manual intervention for those outlying cases that are very hard to predict (for example, agreeing ad hoc extensions)!

In this way, the only input needed is the events (which need to be captured anyway!) – absolutely everything else is managed by the system right up to the point of inspecting the data to determine any intervention needs.

“All of our information regarding an ECT is now stored in one place and it is quick to ‘look up’ an ECT, see where they are, or see what ECTs are at what school, where they are within an induction process etc.”

– Tina Beddoe, ECF lead, One Cumbria

What could customisation look like for ABs?

Despite templates provided by the DfE, almost every AB that we speak to wants to collect some kind of additional information from schools/ECTs to help inform their actions.

Customisability of systems is always a challenge for technologists, the key question being: how do we balance flexibility with the need for structure to support monitorability? An additional problem is that by providing lots of choice over reporting structure, the user interface can become overwhelmingly complex, and hard for the user to determine whether they’ve actually built what they intended!

A great system for customisation treads the fine line between flexibility and monitorability, and carefully manages the tension between choice and complexity of experience.

For AB reporting, this needs to look something like the following:

  • Reports should be configurable to contain different types of questions, which can be edited by AB administrators
  • Each type of question should have its own “monitoring semantics”, meaning that if we choose to construct a question with a limited set of response options, we know that any data recorded against this question will automatically pull through to appropriate monitoring tools (e.g. who answered “no” to this question?)
  • It should be possible to have different reporting templates for different types of report (interim, progress, End of Year) and for these to evolve over time.
  • Configuring templates should be a straightforward process, with easy tools for previewing how any changes made will appear to different users.

Being able to create and refine templates in Mosaic is helpful as these can be tailored to what is needed and has given us, an Appropriate Body, the chance to show we have an audit trail of reading reports and responding to issues / needs as they arise.”

“The process of being able to monitor completion rates with Mosaic is far more efficient than ticking off emails and printing progress reviews! It also gives a snapshot of who is in need of support and this allows you to act much more efficiently”.

– Tina Beddoe, ECF lead, One Cumbria

What could a great experience look like for schools?

For schools, it’s all about simplicity and the “pit of success”. The pit of success describes the design of a system so that users can’t help but succeed in what you intend them to do. Users shouldn’t need lengthy help manuals just to complete a report, rather the process for completing the report should be so completely obvious that no explanation is needed. This kind of approach removes all friction for the user and can even, dare I say it, lead to delight!

The experience could look as follows:

  • Reports to complete across ECTs are all accessible in one place
  • Reminders about upcoming reports are timely without being annoying (if I look after 5 ECTs, I don’t want 5 separate emails in one day!)
  • The reporting interface makes it clear exactly what I need to do, and walks me through the process right through to completion.

If a system can manage this, then Induction tutors and headteachers will never feel frustrated by the technology (and by extension the AB), but rather come away with the impression of a professional, efficient provider who understands the time pressures on schools.

“I’d just like to say what a great system Mosaic is for the feedback, makes life a lot simpler”.

– Induction Tutor, One Cumbria

In summary…

So, in summary, how can we advise ABs when considering their reporting processes?

  • Automate absolutely everything that is automatable
  • Use systems that enable customisation, without losing the power of structured data for ease of monitoring
  • Focus on user experience – it will save time for you and strengthen relationships with schools.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this (somewhat technical!) inspection of AB reporting processes and that in sharing some of our own learnings in building Mosaic – our powerful solution for managing all aspects of induction (not just reporting!) – you may have found some useful insights as to how you might tweak your own systems and processes to be more efficient, effective and streamlined for schools.





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