New report reveals a quarter of international schools lack confidence in using data to flag student wellbeing concerns


A report published today has revealed that 25% of international schools are not confident in using data to identify concerns relating to students’ wellbeing.

At a time when tackling mental health issues is a major global priority, the Data for Leadership report, published by GL Education, suggests that more needs to be done to help school staff use data more effectively so they can spot students who might be struggling emotionally and act quickly to ensure they get the help they need.  

The report includes the results of a survey of 82 schools from 42 countries, which was carried out in association with the Council of British International Schools (COBIS) and the Council of International Schools (CIS).

Matthew Dagan, Deputy Principal at Riverside School, Prague, who contributed to a panel discussion on the findings of the survey at the 2018 COBIS annual conference, said: “The results suggest there is concern among many educators that students’ wellbeing can have just as much of an impact on their academic achievement as any learning difficulty.

“Data has a key role to play in helping schools to identify and address issues that are holding their students back, both academically and emotionally. As school leaders, we need to ensure our staff have the information they need to confirm what they suspect might be behind a sudden drop in a child’s achievement, for example. They can then start a conversation, learn a little bit more and formulate an effective plan to help their students make good progress in school.”

According to the survey results, only 22% of responding schools had a named member of their senior leadership team specifically responsible for data. This raised a key issue among the panellists, who agreed that having an SLT member in charge of data use was essential to driving school improvement and ensuring data becomes part of the school culture.

There were high levels of confidence in schools that responded around using data to differentiate lessons for students and identifying underperformance. However, the time needed to analyse assessment data emerged as the greatest challenge in 66% of schools.

Panellist Matthew Savage, Principal of International Community School in Jordan, said: “I believe my teachers cannot understand their children’s needs, strengths and complexities, or see beneath their masks, without data as their friend. Data does not diagnose, but it plants flags in the sand beneath which we can dig. How do we find the time? The question should be ‘how do we not find the time?’”

James Neill, International Director at GL Education, who chaired the panel, comments: “Many of the challenges schools experience in identifying the needs of students are the same no matter where in the world they are located. The results of the survey indicate that more needs to be done to help senior leaders and teachers use the student information being gathered to uncover and tackle hidden barriers to higher achievement.”

The full report, which can be downloaded here, summarises the findings of the international school survey, includes highlights from the panel discussions and offers strategies that schools can put in place to ensure data is used effectively in leadership.


Notes to the editor:

  • During the six-week survey response window, 82 international schools from 42 different countries responded. More than 80% were all-through schools, with the remaining number evenly split between primary only and secondary only.

About GL Education

GL Education (known in the UK as GL Assessment) has a growing presence in British, bilingual and international schools in over 100 countries worldwide. We also provide assessment services to ministries of education and their agencies.

41 Global Perspectives Pupil Attitudes To Self And School Report 2018