The importance of data collection for tailored learning

19 October 2023

As teachers approach Half Term around the world, they will be consulting student data to measure progress, review academic targets and to write reports. It is data which keeps the academic world turning. There has been a significant shift in education over the past decade towards an evidence-based model. In short, teachers should take actions and make decisions based on provable evidence whenever possible. It is hard to argue with.


From testing our students to collect useful data...

At Surval Montreux, we use educational research and theory to justify the academic decisions we take. However, on a day-to-day basis, it is academic data which proves that our teaching is effective, our decisions justified and our impressions of students accurate.

This half term alone, the school has gathered data on English and French language levels, cognitive ability and student attitudes towards learning. Every subject teacher has gathered data which diagnoses students' strengths and weaknesses in their subjects. Needless to say, it has been a busy time for teachers and students. And our international boarding school is not alone in valuing this data. The CAT4 test, which measures cognitive ability and learning bias, is taken by over a quarter of a million students each year. Schools worldwide are gathering crucial academic data on their students.


...To using data to tailor educational pathways

Crucially, though, Surval Montreux does not simply gather this data. Instead, we use the data to make alterations to teaching, learning support, language assistance and student targets. The school's deliberately small size allows us to tailor learning to each student and helps us to understand them extremely well. Every piece of academic data gathered helps to improve that essential understanding of our students. This clearer picture then enhances the teaching and learning in every classroom, for every student. Data and evidence often seem impersonal in education. We ensure that it is deeply personal by using it to help each individual girl.


Start-of-term baseline tests are usually met with groans and shrugs from students. We hope that our data-driven approach to improving students' learning and outcomes will change that. As an English teacher, I am well used to reminding students that they must "prove their point" in an essay through carefully chosen quotations.

As teachers, we must do exactly the same thing: use academic data to prove our point.


Thomas Byrne, Head of Learning and Teaching at Surval Montreux