Happy New year! Today, just for a change, we're delighted to announce a new feature that's not on our website. We're lucky enough to work with a wide range of organisations – from charities and academic societies to companies and sporting bodies – helping them better understand and serve our education system. As a result, not all of our work ends up on SchoolDash.com. Far from it, in fact.
One of our most interesting recent projects has been a collaboration with New Schools Network (NSN), a charity that promotes and supports the establishment of free schools. They wanted to develop more effective ways to understand – and to help prospective free school founders understand – the levels of need for new school places in different parts of the country.
This turns out not to be a simple question, incorporating as it does a variety of factors, such as current school quality, forecast pupil growth, local poverty levels and the locations of existing free schools (among others). Our joint answer to this challenge, the NSN Map of Need, is freely available on their website for all to use. A screenshot is shown below, but we encourage you to try out the real thing for yourself.
The visualisation is built on Google Maps, which provides a familiar pan-and-zoom interface while also allowing users to orient themselves with respect to towns, roads and other landmarks. It incorporates a range of different measures, including:
Current and future demand for pupils places
Under- or over-subscription of school relative to expressed parental preference
Academic attainment and progress
A unique 'NSN Score' that combines several of these metrics to provide an indicator of perceived overall need
Users can view the data across different years as well as by region, local authority area or primary/secondary school planning area. They can also see the locations of existing free schools. All of the underlying numbers are available for anyone to view and download.
Many thanks to the New Schools Network for involving SchoolDash in this fascinating and (we hope) worthwhile project. As ever, we'd love to hear your thoughts too: [email protected].