Teacher knows best - why an ex-teacher set up his own behaviour management software company.
Ed Whittaker and Andrew Rose set up Schools Data Services (SDS) Ltd in 2008, after spotting a gap in the school behaviour management market. The company has developed IRIS, a behaviour and achievement monitoring system used in over 60 secondary schools.
IRIS (‘it really is simple’) is a real-time online software system which enables schools to record, monitor, analyse and manage pupil behaviour. The system enables poor and good behaviour to be equally recorded and managed. And secure online access to IRIS data means that teachers, management, governors, parents, pupils and partners such as community support officers gain up-to-date reliable information on individuals.
Designed by teacher Ed, with extensive behaviour management experience and schools-based management information systems programmer Andrew, IRIS has already delivered significant benefits to classroom teachers, school management and pupils. Helen Phillips deputy head at Penketh High School in Warrington, an IRIS user explains:”We compared IRIS with similar available software. It was immediately clear that IRIS had been designed by a teacher and could fit what schools need”.
- Cedar Mount High School Manchester found a 59% drop in fixed-term exclusions and a drop in low-level classroom disruption of 42%. The school has also reduced the number of days lost to exclusions by 80%.
- Weatherhead High School on the Wirral reports a 50% reduction in pupil on-calls and a 74% decrease in repeated bad behaviour.
IRIS is designed to help schools to better manage pupil behaviour, so the findings reported above are perhaps not unsurprising. However, unanticipated – and highly beneficial – outcomes from the adoption of IRIS include the embedding of IRIS in school-wide planning systems; a revolutionary approach for many schools in terms of their rewards systems; IRIS’ implementation flexibility which helps meet each school’s particular needs; and the benefits of information-sharing where schools work with multiple stakeholders. For example, Cedar Mount School in Manchester found that secure remote access to IRIS data for governors and community support officers led to improved efficiency and understanding.
One concern for Ed was the recognition and reward of ‘grey’ or ‘invisible’ pupils – those that attend, behave, and who generally do what is asked and expected of them. He based his design of IRIS’ recognition and reward functions on tried and tested methods of ‘positive discipline’ – helping to teach pupils what was acceptable behaviour and what wasn’t, and identifying methods to deal with pupils who behave and those who don’t. Geraldine Fraser, Weatherhead’s assistant head teacher comments that:”IRIS has given us the tool to reward students. So many of our girls get it right every day, and we can now make sure that these students get the recognition they deserve”.
Ed firmly believes that effective and positive behaviour management is within reach of every secondary school. “If teachers are properly supported and developed, and where this is combined with well-designed robust IT systems for monitoring and managing pupil behaviour, then every school will reap the benefits. Teacher morale increases, pupils are effectively recognised and rewarded for positive behaviours, and whole-school policies are better supported”, he continues.
SDS attended The Education Show in March 2010 to show the benefits of IRIS to schools across the UK. Ed enjoys demonstrating IRIS and showing how easy and flexible it is:”I fully sympathise with the ‘unless it makes my job easier, I won’t use it’ approach. That’s why we’ve designed a powerful system that is easy to use with little need for training. We have found that most schools can save many times the annual cost of IRIS simply in reduced admin time ”