What does a School Data Manager do?

Leanne Gomes - 30 June, 2021

Category : Blog

What does a School Data Manager do?

School Data Managers play a vital role in how schools run, yet they can sometimes get forgotten. Doing everything from resetting passwords, to churning out graphs and spreadsheets – it’s a really varied role. Often as one of the only members of staff with highly technical skills, it can sometimes seem like magic how Data

School Data Managers play a vital role in how schools run, yet they can sometimes get forgotten. Doing everything from resetting passwords, to churning out graphs and spreadsheets – it’s a really varied role.

Often as one of the only members of staff with highly technical skills, it can sometimes seem like magic how Data Managers are able to transform data into something understandable for other staff. But behind the scenes there’s a lot of (usually manual) work involved.

Arbor Key Account Manager, Leanne, who worked as a Data Manager for almost 12 years, mostly for large secondaries in London, shares her insights into what this important role involves day to day. 

“Being a Data Manager is a really rewarding role, especially in the right school and I am lucky to have worked in some of them. I loved my job, loved helping people and seeing small things I did have big ripple effects on the staff and students I worked with.”

The Data Manager’s responsibilities 

The role of Data Managers is varied and complex, with the results of their work driving a lot of the decisions made in schools. Depending on the school, the Data Manager will either be relatively specialised on data analysis or perform quite a generalist role, covering IT and systems admin. Some Data Managers are responsible for exams and timetabling, whilst some schools have separate Exams Officers and Timetablers. Schools also usually have a separate Attendance officer who handles attendance data. 

The general areas of oversight for a Data Manager are usually managing the core systems of the school, including the MIS (Management Information System), collecting data from Teachers, generating key reports for SLT and Heads of Department, and managing statutory reporting and census.

Data Managers are expected to be the expert on everything about all software in the school. A large part of the role is therefore training colleagues on how to use new systems, as well as supporting them on how to manipulate and learn from data. 

Other school responsibilities

In busy schools, staff roles often include lots of other responsibilities around school, and the Data Manager is no different. They will commonly have lunch or break duties, and will often help colleagues out with general daily tasks like  answering calls, covering reception, post, collecting students from classrooms and taking them to reception.

Data Managers often have to also respond to urgent queries or requests from colleagues that could come at any time, sometimes when they’re halfway through doing something else. The most time is usually taken up with working out exactly what the staff member is looking for, for instance what they want to use that piece of data or report for, before they can work out a solution. 

Daily tasks

System admin 

  • Creating user accounts for students and staff in the MIS and any other systems, such as FFT, ALPS, 4Matrix, SISRA
  • Resetting user passwords
  • Setting up the MIS for the new school year, including adding new students, classes and timetables 

Managing data

  • Keeping accurate records for students and staff
  • Tracking down historical information for students (e.g. through DfE websites or contacting their previous schools)
  • Tidying data to prepare for the the school census
  • Updating any changes to classes and groups
  • Updating Teacher timetables 
  • Searching through historical data for reference requests for ex-students
  • Sending leaver student files (CTFS) to students’ new schools

Data analysis and reporting

  • Meet with SLT, Headteachers and Assessment Leads (weekly or monthly) to understand their reporting requirements, to present analysis, feed into strategy, discuss the impact of any recent updates from the DfE and find what’s coming up to help plan workload
  • Carrying out behaviour analysis for SLT, Heads of Department and Pastoral Leads
  • Carrying out assessment analysis for SLT, Heads of Department and Pastoral Leads (the degree of this can vary by Data Manager; some use external analysis software, others write up headline figures, others present detailed analysis highlighting individual students and subjects where interventions were required) 
  • Carrying out assessment analysis for MAT Central Teams (they will want to see a different picture compared to school level staff)
  • Design and implement target setting policy
  • Create, print and split termly student reports into tutor groups ready to send out, and share digitally with parents and students

Statutory reporting and census

  • Keep up to date with DfE requirements and guidance on how schools should collect or use their data
  • Deal with census errors and queries

Data collection

  • Check and chase Teachers for any missing assessment data due for students’ reports
  • Design and create assessment marksheets for all relevant staff 

IT support

  • Run staff training on how to use school software 
  • Log any faults or issues with software and raise them with the provider
  • Teach yourself skills that will be useful to your role (e.g. Microsoft Power BI, SQL)

General admin 

  • Book rooms for staff (this might be done by the other Office Staff)
  • Design and build next year’s timetable (this usually starts at Easter and finishes in July) 
  • Line-manage your team (if you have one), which can include Data Assistants, Data Officers, Exams Officers/Invigilators

Top tips for School Data Managers

  • At the end of the day, make a note on your to-do list of anything that didn’t get done today for tomorrow (I used to do this in a different colour so it stood out), and any meetings or deadlines tomorrow 
  • It’s good to have a support network and camaraderie from fellow Data Managers, so link up with a group nearby and/or online 
  • The key to working well with other staff members is good communication. You might not understand at first what they’re asking for or needing from a report, so try and gauge how they best explain themselves – I once had a brilliant head of Sixth Form who would draw me rough sketches on post-it notes! 
  • Make sure you have a good relationship with your Attendance Officer who can provide data analysis to add into your wider analysis
  • Learn how to use systems inside out so you can best support colleagues (and have less chance of being caught out) 
  • …However, when your school introduces a new system, don’t jump into learning it in detail right away expecting to have to coach others – sometimes you’ll find that Leadership organise a whole school training session on it later on

What do Data Managers think of Arbor MIS? 

Arbor’s built-in data dashboards give staff at all levels accessible data they can understand and act on day to day. In fact, 81% of Arbor users say Arbor has improved how they understand and analyse their data. 

Data Managers say this helps reduce their workload as staff can complete their routine reporting without having to go to their Data Manager for every small request. Instead, Data Managers have more time to get on with the deeper, more satisfying analysis that they love. Our Microsoft Power BI Connector, for example, makes it easy to explore Arbor data in the popular analytics tool, Power BI.

Read more about Arbor’s Microsoft Power BI Connector here. If you’re an Arbor school and you’d like to get started with our Microsoft Power BI Connector, get in touch with your Account Manager at account.management@arbor-education.com .

Discover 5 ways Data Managers are using Microsoft Power BI today 


data-manager-quote-3 data-manager-quote-2Hear more from Kate Ferris, Data and Systems Analyst at Baxter College, about how using Arbor has transformed how she works with her colleagues. 

Want a demo of Arbor MIS?

If you’d like to find out how Arbor could transform the way you work, come along to our free webinars to see the system in action. You can also arrange a personalised demo here or get in touch with us at hello@arbor-education.com or call 0208 050 1028.

You can also download our guide to Arbor for Data Managers for free here.

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