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Reclaiming Professional Insight: The iAbacus team reflect on a major benefit of iAbacus for School

Working with school leaders we often hear a concern that whilst data plays a crucial role in shaping their decision making, it can sometimes overshadow the value of their professional judgement and intuition. We know education has become data-saturated, as school leaders navigate a sea of spreadsheets, student performance metrics, and satisfaction survey results. This is where the iAbacus novel and innovative approach, comes into play. Deploying the iAbacus method of self-evaluation reclaims your professional insight and judgement by harnessing a far richer set of information and evidence, to complement pure data. Let us explain why…

The iAbacus approach encourages school leaders to start with initial judgements based on their professional intelligence and intuition, and then look to support, or indeed challenge, these judgements with evidence. This paradigm shift from the conventional 'evidence-first' model carries several notable benefits that can profoundly impact the way school leaders, and colleagues, engage with the process of self-evaluation and improvement planning.

1. Valuing Professional Intelligence:

We designed iAbacus to build on a truth that educators, given their deep knowledge of their schools, students, staff, and the unique challenges they face are capable of making accurate judgements. So, iAbacus places a significant emphasis on this professional intelligence of school leaders. Leaders and professional colleagues can do this intuitively, without the immediate need for an extensive data review because they live the evidence and data and can factor in the local conditions. We now know iAbacus empowers school leaders to not only trust but also develop their insights and intuition. iAbacus places these critical aspects of professional intelligence at the start of self-evaluation.

2. Reducing Data Overwhelm:

By allowing school leaders to form judgements based on their understanding and experience, the whole process becomes less daunting. A major benefit of the iAbacus approach is its effectiveness in mitigating the feeling of being overwhelmed by vast quantities of data. The initial judgements serve as a compass, guiding the subsequent selection and interpretation of evidence, thereby making the process more efficient and empowering.

3. Focused Evidence Selection:

The initial judgement acts as a roadmap for gathering and analysing evidence. This results in a more targeted and relevant selection of data, which aligns with and supports the initial judgement, or modifies it. So, instead of sifting through an ocean of data, looking for patterns, school leaders start with their judgement hypotheses and research evidence and data to inform their judgements. This, not only makes the process more manageable and less time-consuming but, crucially, strengthens the quality of iAbacus users’ professional judgement.

4. Preparing for External Evaluation:

In this way the iAbacus serves as an excellent primer for encounters with external evaluators. By requiring school leaders to substantiate their self-assessment with solid evidence, it equips them with the ability to confidently present and justify their performance to other evaluators, including inspectors. This aspect of the iAbacus approach fosters a proactive attitude towards external evaluation, transforming it from a daunting prospect into an opportunity for constructive dialogue and development based on far richer data and evidence sets. We believe that no one can know as much about a school as the self-evaluating leader in that school.

5. Encouraging Continuous Reflection and Improvement:

Another distinguishing feature of the iAbacus model is its support for an iterative process. The cyclical process allows for constant refinement, enabling all in school to modify and update any stage of the evaluation based on new insights, evidence, or changes in circumstances. This not only maps more accurate and authentic assessments over time, but also cultivates a culture of continuous reflection and improvement, encouraging colleagues to always strive for better. This makes school improvement a sustainable part of normal practice.

We want to stress that the iAbacus approach does not diminish the importance of data in the process of self-evaluation. Rather, it redefines the relationship between judgement and evidence, including data, placing them on an equal footing. It acknowledges the critical role of evidence in substantiating professional judgements, while also appreciating the unique insights that only school leaders, with their wealth of experience and intimate understanding of their school's context, can provide.

In conclusion, the iAbacus method provides a compelling alternative for school leaders who feel swamped by traditional data-driven methods of self-evaluation. By placing professional insight and intuition, at the start and heart of the iAbacus we offer you a more intuitive, empowering, and efficient approach to school evaluation and improvement.

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