23.04.21 11:38 AM By Tracy

Having accurate and up-to-date pupil data is something OFSTED look out for, especially for child protection and safeguarding, and data that is accurate is also a core principle of GDPR compliancy.  

So what are the other benefits of clean data?

  •  It makes it easier to communicate with parents as you can lay your hands on the right contact information quickly.
  • Improves school admin efficiency by saving time as you don’t have to spend time checking the data, allowing staff to focus on other tasks.

At the end of last year we conducted a survey with primary schools to ask them some questions about their school life, many primary schools took part, and the results revealed some interesting responses. Our primary aim was to find out how primary schools’ updated their parents’ data. In this day and age, we thought that many schools may be using digital tools to automate the collection of their children’s contact information rather than manual processes, due to it being quicker and more accurate as well as reducing print and distribution costs. 


We had over 50 primary schools respond to our survey. We were keen to find out what processes schools’ used for collecting their pupils' details, how many times they did this exercise, and whether they thought their current method for collecting the information was satisfactory.  It was amazing how diverse the set of answers were:


How many times did schools ask parents to verify their children's information?

  • 70% of schools said that they asked their parents to verify their contact information once a year.
  •  15% said it was another time duration, answers included: 
    • When a parent tells us they have changed their details.
    • Constantly as linked to the school system.
    • Once per year manually and also linked to a module where parents can update their records and we are notified of the change..
    • We have a message at the end of our newsletters reminding parents to advise us of any changes.

How do schools verify their parents' contact information?

  • Almost 75% of schools still update their data manually, with only 13% of schools doing it via automation (automated via a MIS app).  Although nearly 30% did it via other methods, many said that they sent out a printed form for parents to complete, one answer was that they did all the above, and one answer said that the parents are asked verbally at parents' evening, although many of these methods were manual rather than automated too. 

Are you satisfied with your current method of verification?

  • 83% of respondents were happy with their current method of verification, while only 17% were not happy, all these respondents said that an automated/electronic response would be more preferable. 


Would an automated process for managing parents' contact information be of use?

  • A whopping 70% said yes. 30% said no and some of the reasons given were that it would be too problematic to deliver and the majority said that they were happy with the system they had and a couple of respondents said that their school was too small so it didn’t justify the change in processes.

How long does it takes to update the information?

  • Just over 50% of people said it took under 5 hours to update the information, despite the processes being fairly manual.  Although 28% of the answers said it did take over 10 hours to complete and update the details. 


When managing your parents' contact information, what is your biggest headache?  

  • We expected that many schools would say getting parents to fill out their information, but was this what they said? Yes, most of the responses said that parents didn’t respond and it’s only an issue when you actually need to get hold of them.  Updating new mobile numbers was the biggest issue and managing the volume of replies and children especially if you have a large primary school. When we asked the schools who said it takes over 10 hours to update their pupil records, the reason for this was obvious, the reason it took so long wasn’t the update process but the length of time it takes for parents to get the forms back!


In summary, despite it being a key component of OFSTED and GDPR, managing data is one of those essential tasks but often time-consuming and difficult to administer. Perhaps there is another alternative - watch this space!


For more information about the survey, contact us here.