New methodologies and pioneering survey software has helped Dorset County Council analyse school performance, improve services and save costs on data analysis.


  • Innovative software survey tool developed for Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning, expected to generate savings worth £100,000 per year and commercial income
  • The enhanced capability of the School Improvement service and school leaders to use available data has helped to raise academic standards and promote pupil wellbeing
  • More effective use of school improvement data, leading to better targeting of resources and higher pupil attainment
  • Fewer schools failing to meet national benchmark performances or OFSTED inspection requirements, generating significant efficiency savings
  • Improved risk management within the education service.

"The outcomes of this KTP will go on to have a considerable impact on our service and outcomes for young people in Dorset. These range from raising academic standards and pupil wellbeing to making significant money-saving efficiencies." (John England, Head of Learning and School Improvement, Dorset County Council)

About the research

Dorset County Council is a local authority providing education, social care, environment, transport, cultural and regulatory services to some 400,000 people across the county. Its Pupil and School Improvement (PSI) service is nationally recognised as effective and successful, with schools generally reaching standards of attainment above the national average.

The effectiveness of PSI services is measured and judged against a series of national performance indicators, derived from complex datasets. In this Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Dorset County Council worked with the University of Southampton's School of Education to better understand and apply knowledge gained from analysis of these datasets, in order to improve PSI effectiveness and efficiency.

The KTP led to the development of new tools and methodologies, enabling analysis of a wider range of information and providing further insights into existing analyses. As a result of groundbreaking work by KTP Associate Chris Downey, a new software survey tool was developed to help schools implement the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) programme and assess its impact. Using the tool across the region is expected to save the Council around £100,000 per year in subscription costs to other survey and data analysis services.

The Council's PSI service is now better able to analyse the complex range of data available to them, and target limited resources more effectively. These improved capabilities extend to headteachers and teachers within the region, who are successfully applying lessons learnt from the data to improve pupil achievement.