Using Your MIS to Support Behaviour Management
MIS is the acronym for Management Information System, also referred to as a school administration system. MIS in use are SIMS .Net, CMIS, BromCom, Phoenix, e1, RM Integris, G2. An MIS is used to manage your student records and usually student assessment data. In some cases an MIS will also manage timetable and attendance data.
The emphasis for an MIS is on tracking attainment. In the DfE National Strategy guidelines for developing an MIS, recording/tracking behaviour doesn’t even get a mention. So, it is no surprise that most MIS don’t provide adequate facility to track behaviour. However, Ofsted requires schools to provide evidence of improvement from analysing pupil’s behaviour data in order to achieve Good. If your MIS can’t provide this, you need to look elsewhere and find something that does.
Most MIS provide a facility for very basic record keeping about behaviour. This simply recognises that a school needs a formal record of serious behaviour (e.g. exclusions for LA reporting). This is primarily an administrative task which has little to do with supporting your day-to-day management of behaviour.
Effective behaviour management requires the analysis of detailed behaviour data. You can only analyse what you record so if your MIS does not allow you to record sufficient detail about behaviour you can't analyse in detail.
This is acknowledged by the recent changes to the Ofsted framework that now requires schools to provide evidence of the impact of their behaviour improvement strategies.
Sleuth is based on an entirely different principle to the one size fits all approach of your MIS. It is specifically designed to help you manage behaviour and recognises that our observations about student behaviour should inform our strategic thinking and decision making. With a much more detailed recording framework the reporting and analysis in Sleuth is far more comprehensive and consistent than that offered in your MIS.
Hundreds of schools have chosen to use Sleuth to help them manage behaviour, every single one chose Sleuth in preference to using their MIS. Our case study page shows why some schools chose Sleuth over their MIS. If you still need convincing we'd be happy to put you in touch with any of the other schools using Sleuth.
Most MIS offer a ’one-stop-shop’ approach to school software by offering functionality that includes managing pupil records, timetabling, assessment, attendance, dinner money, etc. A single system is not a bad idea in principle but that one system must be able to do everything really well for it to be a good idea.
Today's technology is such that it no longer matters where data is stored, only that you have the best possible tools available to access and process it. Your school VLE/Parent Portal is an online system and can access the behaviour data in Sleuth and display it however you want, for example, alongside attainment and attendance data. Users won’ know (and won’t care) that some data comes from Sleuth and some from your MIS, it is more important that it is good quality data, detailed and accurate.
Usually different personnel in school contribute to making a decision on software purchases. For example, a business manager may consider a single system to be easier to procure, a network manager may claim a single system is easier to install and maintain. In some cases, the budget holder and network manager make their decision on these two factors alone.
This ignores the needs of those staff that have to use the software everyday - teaching staff, Heads of Year/Dept and members of the Senior Leadership Team. Their needs are usually more practical:
A ’one-stop-shop’ approach to selecting software inevitably leads to some compromising on requirements. No single MIS excels in every area, some modules are strong in some areas and weak in others. You might end up with a system that is great at managing assessment data but poor at recording attendance.
If you are considering using your MIS to track behaviour then you need to be sure you are not compromising on your ability to manage behaviour effectively.
Where the decision to purchase a system to track behaviour is made by those that will actually use it to support their management of behaviour, the school inevitably chooses Sleuth over their MIS. There are several hundred examples of this, the rest of this page explains their reasons in more detail.
Sleuth records details about the incident and its context to enable you to focus on the behaviour (rather than the student) to identify the triggers for the behaviour in order that can you learn to recognise them and intervene early. Sleuth also records all interventions (actions) used, not just the final outcome, so you know which interventions worked and just as importantly, those that didn't.
At the minimum you should be recording observations that include:
All of these things can have an impact on behaviour. Recording in this detail provides an opportunity to understand the underlying causes of behaviour and focus on finding solutions. Only Sleuth gives you the choice to record all of them (and more) and then proactively manage their impact on behaviour.
If you are not recording something that you think may have an impact on behaviour you have to guess at its impact. So does each of your colleagues. Behaviour management based on guesswork is rarely effective and never consistent.
For a complete record of an incident it may be necessary to enter comments, (for example: a parent’s response to a phonecall or the exact language used in a racist incident). In Sleuth comments can be entered for a student's behaviour and for each action taken. If the information is worth recording then there must be a place for it, some MIS limit the comments to a few words so you have to leave information out.
It should be straightforward to view/report all the information recorded for an incident as a whole - all students involved, all actions taken for each student (including all comments). Some MIS only permit you to enter behaviour as an event in a student's file with no means to link to the other students involved in the same incident so vital context for the behaviour is lost. In Sleuth all information about an incident is identified by an incident number and all details of the incident's context remain together.
As a guide to what should be recorded, review this example of a paper-based Incident Proforma. This is based on what secondary schools were advised to record in order to track behaviour as part of the National KS3 Behaviour Strategy. Sleuth will allow you to record and analyse ALL this information, does your MIS?
Tracking behaviour is about more than logging incidents. It must also involve detailed analysis of behaviour to improve understanding, and then management, of behaviour. There are practical outcomes of the analysis that should provide day to day support for behaviour management tasks, for example managing referrals to colleagues, managing detentions or identifying the actions used by staff in order to support staff CPD.
Can you use your MIS to:
These are all features of Sleuth that will contribute to your management of behaviour. See Key Features of Sleuth for more details of what you can record and analyse in Sleuth to help your day-to-day management of behaviour.
For effective behaviour management the recording and tracking of behaviour should be consistent with your behaviour policy. Equally important is that a tracking system promotes consistency when staff enter and report on behaviour.
When recording, the data entry should be objective so staff select from a pre-defined list of options (rather than free text). The terminology used throughout a tracking system should be consistent with the behaviour policy, hence familiar to all staff. This requires that all descriptors for data entry are able to be modified to a particular policy and school environment. Sleuth allows you to add/edit behaviours, sanctions and rewards and all other school specific details (e.g. periods, subjects, location, etc) so that it is consistent with your policy and the language staff use to describe behaviour. Sleuth also goes a step further during data entry by (optionally) suggesting an appropriate sanction/reward for a particular (level of) behaviour shown by a student.
When analysing and reporting on behaviour a good tracking system will enable staff to quickly get the information they need on a frequent basis (e.g. my referrals or today's incidents for my tutees) and also provide the means to do detailed ad-hoc analysis to profile students and investigate potential cause for early intervention. Sleuth permits any number of search and/or report criteria to be set-up and then saved for any/all members of staff. A search or report can then be rerun in a single-step with complete confidence that the report is showing exactly what it should, using language staff understand, consistently, day after day.
A proactive approach to behaviour management can only come about as a result of developing a greater understanding of what triggers certain behaviours. A better understanding of behaviour comes from analysing it in detail. With a better understanding of behaviour and its root causes, it is then possible to develop intervention strategies before behaviour becomes persistent. Only by recording observations in detail can you analyse in detail and really begin to understand behaviour.
Regular detailed analysis of behaviour using Sleuth will give you a greater understanding of behaviour so you can be proactive about addressing it. Only Sleuth records and analyses in the detail you need to understand the underlying causes of behaviour.
Using Sleuth to track behaviour will lead you to selecting more effective and appropriate interventions. These interventions are appropriate because they are based on detailed analysis of an individual’s behaviour profile. They are effective because you have evidence of successful strategies for managing similar behaviours including details of all prior interventions, those that worked and those that didn't. For more information see Proactively Managing Referrals.
For a behaviour policy to be successful there has to be a dynamic relationship between policy and practice. A behaviour policy should continually evolve according to what is happening in practice. This evolution is based on regular reviews of the daily experiences and responses of staff in dealing with behaviour.
A behaviour policy review needs to determine that the behaviour policy is:
Most MIS lack the detail required to communicate all that has taken place in an incident and don’t allow you staff to record all that they have done as a result of the incident. Just adding ad-hoc comments to an incident is not sufficient, to evaluate policy it must be possible to analyse incident data and comments don’t support analysis.
Using Sleuth ensures that policy is continually reviewed and evolves to be effective and successful. It provides all the evidence required for self-evaluation. For more information see Reviewing Policy & Self-Evaluation.
Sleuth is routinely used by schools to present detailed objective behaviour data to parents. Schools and parents have regularly commented that home-school relationships have significantly improved as a result of the school tracking behaviour using Sleuth. The feedback suggests that these conversations have become more informed and focussed as a result of accurate and objective information.
Sleuth data is now be made available to all parents online in real-time. Parents can either login directly to the Sleuth parent pages with their own account or schools can present Sleuth data in a parent portal or VLE, alongside attainment and attendance data.
Sharing behaviour data with parents and carers has to be purposeful. It should be more than a box ticking exercise, something which schools do because they are required to. Behaviour data should be shared with parents because it can contribute to more effective behaviour management and improved outcomes for all. It is not simply about providing information but providing data with purpose. This is what Sleuth is designed to do, improve the relationship between home and school.