We’re proud of our IAS Advance range of systems, but we think the story of how they came to be is an unusual one worth telling, as it demonstrates the user-focused ethos which underlie the systems we build, and also our commitment to helping you, the education professionals, get access to tools which do the things you want them to do, rather than impose a system upon you.
So, our story goes back quite some time, to the days when our Director of Product Development, Matthew Young, was a professional data analyst. He had frequent conversations with his teacher wife about the ideas she had to reduce workload involved in tracking and analysing pupil attainment and progress whilst increasing its value and making the process more child centred. In 2012, Matthew became parent governor at his local school, and had the opportunity to discuss some of the ideas that had been developed with the wider education community.
The enterprising Headteacher of the school was only too keen to try and explore the concept, and Matthew became the lead governor for data and end of Key Stage standards. As time went by, he became increasingly aware that some of the frustrations his wife had outlined were encountered by both teachers and senior management in many schools - especially with regard to the amount of time which had to be dedicated to both recording and analysing assessment data to demonstrate attainment and progress, and the inflexibility of systems to adapt to evolving needs.
When talking these issues through with staff both at this school, and others in the local area, the original ideas evolved and the IAS Advance range of solutions began to take shape - although a lack of time (and a software development team!) meant that the ideas didn’t become a reality at that stage.
In 2015, however, Matthew approached our company with this situation, and was soon given the role of developing a concrete product from the ideas of the professionals he had spoken to. The process had humble beginnings, with designing analysis reports being the initial target. It seems amazing now to think that our first assessment recording method was a simple Excel spreadsheet, but this was the quickest means of collecting the real data we needed so we could work with you to design a suite of reports and visualisations which would give you the insight you wanted into attainment and progress at individual, learner group, class and year group level.
We knew from consultation that you wanted the ability to compare current attainment with age related expectations, to see progress over a period of time you choose (a term, a year, whole Key Stage), to have access to whole class reports you could easily use for planning, to easily access value added data, and of course, to be able to see these reports from groups of learners like free school meal entitlement. So, of course, we made sure that our system did all these things and more – including subject leader reports, assessment standardisation reports and analysis of literacy and numeracy test results.