How to gain powerful, actionable insights into the wellbeing of your school

Article by Dr Joe Thurbon
Educator Impact / 14 January 2020

In 1961, John F Kennedy announced a goal for humans to walk on the moon. At about the same time, an industrialist called Henry Kremer announced a series of prizes worth $2.5M in today’s dollars, for a seemingly more modest goal: to fly under human power, over the English Channel.

Fast forward a little over 10 years and teams were still stuck on the wrong side of the water, and stuck on an annual cycle of design-build-crash. They were smart, dedicated experts but they failed continually.

Over that same decade, 6 separate missions successfully walked on the moon. But it took another 8 years of swimming in the Channel before Paul MacCready changed the game. His insight was simple; he designed an aircraft that was easy to reassemble after it crashed. This reduced the time between test-flights from a year, to a handful of hours. And in the time that his competitors could make one test flight, he could make 1000. Within a short time of his decision to compete, he had won all the prizes and stayed dry.

How did he achieve it? Flight is easy to understand in theory: lift + thrust = weight + drag. But in practice, crossing the channel remained out-of-reach until Paul MacCready transformed test flights. He transformed them from a rare, high-stakes, summative event, into a cadence that was frequent, familiar, and formative.

The ingredients of a healthy school are also easy to recognise in theory. But in practice, they can be harder to marshall than crossing the channel – and they are certainly more important.

Transforming a school into a “healthy school” is implicit in the ubiquitous “School Improvement Plan” but the data Principals have is incomplete, difficult to obtain, or out-of-date.

Educator Impact believes that transforming the measurement of school health into something that is frequent, familiar and formative will lead to a radical improvement in outcomes and assist Principals in transforming their school.

The research is clear. Student and staff wellbeing are both vitally important – and they also have a huge impact on one another.

Further, measuring student wellbeing should be not only comprehensive but also regular and individualised. So, why is it so often measured with annual, anonymous surveys?

The answer is, of course, that it’s HARD! It’s hard to measure something as comprehensive as student wellbeing in a way that is simple enough to be frequent and individualised enough to be formative.

Educator Impact has a system that lets schools collect data that has all three properties. It works by asking a small number of questions regularly so schools can quickly build and maintain an up-to-date picture of:

  • Individuals who are at-risk, by tracking individuals over time
  • School- or faculty-wide areas that need investment or intervention, by tracking aggregate data over time
  • The efficacy of plans that are being actioned, by measuring the change of sentiment over time

Educator Impact’s Pulse program comprehensively measures wellbeing and engagement against best-practice frameworks, while being frequent enough to use as a leading indicator, and individualised enough to use formatively – that is, to improve things!.

It measures your school’s overall health – the wellbeing and engagement of your students, staff and parents.

At Educator Impact, we help schools enable a culture of continual improvement. All our programs are safe, simple, and easy to use.

Dr Joe Thurbon, CTO at Educator Impact