Tuesday, 4 November 2014

It is all about using Data

Welcome back and I hope that you have all had a really good break.  Thank you all for such a superb Open Evening on Thursday, 23rd October, when we were able to show prospective students what a great College we have.  Many parents commented on our achievements, our warm and friendly welcome, our honesty, our openness and our celebration of success.  I certainly felt really proud and honoured to be a part of such a key event.

I read a fascinating article in The Guardian a few weeks ago about Billy Bean.  He is an American former professional baseball player and CEO of Oakland Athletics.  He has revolutionised the way in which data is used to understand baseball and improve performance.  Since 2000, the As have reached the play-offs 8 times despite having
one of the smallest budgets.  So how do the As achieve such success?  According to Bean,

"… it is about using data and detailed analysis to find value.  It means that when it comes to recruitment you have to engage in detailed and lengthy analysis of potential targets, not falling into the familiar trap of recruiting someone because they played well against your team.  It means being open to new ideas and 'being the dumbest guy in the team'".

As I read this article, I began to extrapolate about our College, our performance, our development and, of course, my beloved Leeds United.  Are we "punching above our weight?"  This would seem to fit with the expressions of surprise that I hear when I attend meetings in the South, and for some, they don't even know where our college is.  However, I am certainly not surprised when I see all the wonderful work going on and the 'beautiful' conversations that I have and overhear.

If each of us can understand and begin to use the data more intelligently, then surely we can get even better.  So for example, what does the data tell us about:

how we teach;
how we learn;
the quality of results that we obtain;
taking that small step to get better;
are we receptive to new ideas;
do we make a judgement about someone who asks the most basic question, such as, 'Why are we doing this?
Does it work?" and finally,
what can we do to improve our performance even further?

Hope we all have an even better second half-term and that we can continue to improve.