Data Management: simplifying data management and analysis

We hear from MAT leaders all the time that they just have so much data that they are drowning in it and can’t always make sense of it. Does this resonate? Are you able to extract actionable insights from your data that can improve learning outcomes and ultimately Trust performance?

Data management, analysis and reporting doesn’t have to be challenging. There are ways that you should be able to easily and quickly pull together and analyse key data across your Trust and Schools.

Here we explore why the reality is often different by examining the key challenges MATs face with Data Management and Reporting and what steps a MAT leader can take to improve the situation.

This blog post is a shortened version for a quick read. However, for more detail, download our reference document, Novatia Note 16, which will help you self-evaluate your Data Management.

Download your Novatia Note

Questa hero image temporary

Based on 17 years’ experience of working with education establishments, we’ve seen first-hand Data Management and Reporting challenges faced by schools and MATs. We would like to share what steps you, as a MAT leader, can take to overcome these challenges.

The Five key data management challenges:

1. Too big a time lag

Leaders within a MAT or Academy, strive to make timely and impactful decisions. Often there is a time lag from when the data is recorded to when it’s reported on. This time lag is often caused by differing data collection and storage thus making analysis time consuming.

2. Different Management Information Systems in one Trust

A MAT with a number of different schools that all formed part of the MAT at different stages are likely to have their own Management Information Systems (MIS) and reporting methods. As such, a clear oversight of the whole Trust is very challenging.

3. Variable Data quality

Within a MAT, each individual school may have their own way of collecting and storing data, from spreadsheets to good old pen and paper. Having such a spectrum of collation and storage of data can lead to errors which may result in bad, incomplete or duplicated data.

4. Difficulty collating multiple Data Sources

Multiple Data Sources, in itself, is not the key problem. All the different sources provide insightful data. However, these need to be collated effectively into a Data Warehouse, where the result of the collation can be interrogated.

5. Data Management can be costly

When there is lots of disparate data across a Trust, it can take a lot of time and human resource to pull it all together to inform decision making. This burden can take leaders focus away from what the school is actually there for – educating our children.

What is the ideal Data Management position for a MAT?

In a perfect world, schools within a Trust would be collecting, storing and analysing their data in exactly the same way. They would be using the same MIS or a way of pulling together all the data from multiple sources, such as a Data Warehouse. Furthermore, MAT leaders desire a way to easily present data visually to different audiences. As such, simplifying Data Management and Reporting by reducing time taken to manage the data and allowing them to compare “apples with apples” resulting in timely and effective decision making.

To help overcome these five challenges, we recommend these five key steps which, when taken sequentially, can help to achieve this ideal.

Five key steps for easier Data Management

Step 1: Set a Data Vision

A data vision is where MAT leaders determine how they want to use the data i.e. the decisions that need to be made to improve the MAT performance.

Step 2: Data Audit

A data audit examines the data journey from capture, collection, storage, analysing to presentation of the data. It will identify the gap between where you are now and where you would like to be, in order to fulfil the data vision.

Read this blog which delves deeper into how to carry out a Data Audit.

Step 3: Develop an Actionable Plan to close the gap

You know what your data needs are and what your current situation is. It is now possible to develop an action plan, outlining the steps you need to take to close the gap.

Step 4: Decide which tools/resource you need to implement your plan

The Data Audit will have examined the current software and ICT tools already in use in each school. The audit will have identified if these can be used to close the gap or if other tools are required.

As ICT specialists in Education, we have seen many MATs and schools struggle with their Data Management, their ability to make data-driven decisions and how it can have a detrimental impact on performance. As a result, we developed Questa , which is a Data Warehouse and Educational Intelligence solution for MATs and Schools. Questa draws from multiple data sources into the Data Warehouse as well as providing a single view from individual school to Trust level. It has easily configured dashboards enabling Trusts and schools to monitor progress against Key Performance Indicators.

Step 5: Implementation

As a MAT leader who has followed this five-step process, you now know what you want to achieve, your data status quo, how to close the gap and what tools and systems you need to be able to compare the data across all your schools and reduce silos.

Novatia Blog 009

It is now time to take this knowledge and put it all in place to improve Data Management.

Many MATs and schools will outsource this to an independent ICT Project Manager who is solely focused on delivering the project and has a wealth of experience which can facilitate a smooth implementation phase.


It is all very well having a copious amount of data, but it is fundamental that the data can be interrogated, insights gained, and impactful decisions made and implemented. For a MAT, it is key to be able to compare and contrast school’s data across the Trust and that a Data Warehouse such as Questa can aid understanding and data usage correctly so that education is enhanced.

To find out how Questa can work in your Trust and Schools, book your free demo now!

Book a  Questa demo

Alternatively, if you would like help with your data vision, audit and strategy, please email us on or call the team 01962 832632

Watch the Webinar

shutterstock_400993198 - webinar picture

Like to learn more? Jan Harrison has made a FREE webinar ''Data Management – are you using your data to its full potential." For further details and the recording click here.

Let us help you ...

Alternatively, if you would like further help and would like to speak directly to us, get in touch either by phone on 01962 832632 or by email on  We’d be happy to provide guidance.


Visit:  Email:  Call: 01962 832632

Topics: questa, ICT Schools, MATS-first analytics, school data audits, MATS, analytics, data analytics for MATs, data analytics for Schools, evidence based decision making, ICT reviews, ICT vision & strategy