Data Driven Decision Making at Affordable Private Schools

Creating presentations and analyzing data points do not usually feature in the job description of a school leader in a low-income private school in India. Between ensuring that the infrastructure is maintained, teachers equipped, and students are safe, school leaders in most affordable private schools are left with very little time to focus on growth and improvement.  

Through our work in such schools, this challenge became increasingly evident to us at MANTRA. We recognized leaders who had the potential to take their schools on a journey from ‘fair’ to ‘good’ but lacked the support. In 2019, we launched a program as part of our STEP intervention, to provide that support to such school leaders. Over the year, School Transformation Leads (STLs) began working with multiple school leaders in the city of Bangalore to equip them towards driving continuous and sustainable improvements in their schools. 

However, as important as it is to bring improvements in the school, taking time to assess the impact and plan is just as essential. STLs from MANTRA engage in such practices through the “Quarterly Updates” structure, where they discuss the improvements with the school leaders and school management, to highlight the successes and areas of development. These discussions guide the efforts of the upcoming quarters and define the focus areas for the school team. 

In the last quarter of the academic year, school leaders took on the role of presenting the updates. When Team Mantra proposed the idea initially, it was met with some excitement from school leaders (SLs) like Keerthi Ma’am and Usha Ma’am, who had never presented such detailed reports in front of an important audience, the school management. A unique experience for the SLs across our schools, the exercise saw them working for hours alongside their STLs, decoding student and teacher data, and even exploring social media to provide evidence to support their achievements. 

For the program team, the experience reinforced their idea that school leadership is the anchor of school development. At schools like Mt. Everest School and Shri Padmashree School, not only the school leader but the widened leadership team engaged in the exercise, thus also reinforcing the idea of a collective and how that is also a solution to sustainable change. 

These presentations had an incredible impact on the school leaders, who emerged with improved confidence and skills like creating PowerPoints and, most importantly, the approach of data-driven decision making. With this, we believe the schools can work more efficiently and proactively towards improvement and growth, ensuring every child has an enriching learning experience. 

Contributed by Team Mantra

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