I’m often asked to talk to senior leaders in UK schools about the benefits of Power BI. Here are some of the key advantages that I can see for schools and MATS who are considering Power BI:

  1. Data Visualization:
    • Power BI allows senior school leaders to create interactive and visually appealing dashboards and reports, making it easier to understand complex data sets. We are no longer limited to showing table after table of indigestible numbers. But if you need a table of numbers though, for example to export to Excel, you can right-click on any graph.
  2. Centralized Data Access:
    • School leaders can consolidate data from various sources into a single platform, providing a centralized location for accessing and analysing information related to student performance, attendance, and other key metrics. Power BI can pull data from most pupil databases (SIMS, Arbor, Bromcom), assessment systems, safeguarding systems, spreadsheets, finance systems, direct from the DfE and merge them into a single report.
  3. Timely, Almost-Live Analytics:
    • Power BI enables timely analytics, allowing senior leaders to make informed decisions promptly from data that is almost ‘live’. This is crucial for addressing immediate concerns or responding to dynamic situations in the school environment. For example, pupil data and attendance data can be refreshed hourly during the school day so your attendance staff know exactly who is not in school today.
  4. Identify Pupils Quickly:
    • Power BI can easily aggregate thousands of pupils reports and millions of attendance marks, but just as easily enable users to identify and list the pupils behind a statistic. For example, we can create a graph to show the number persistent absentees by year group, by simply right-clicking on the graph, staff can see the names and attendance statistics of the individual pupils.
  5. Customizable Dashboards:
    • School leaders can create customized dashboards tailored to their specific needs, tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) that are relevant to educational goals and objectives. Power BI skills are not trivial, but staff who can maintain Excel spreadsheets have the level of skills necessary to build and maintain Power BI reports.
  6. Data-driven Decision Making:
    • Power BI empowers school leaders to base their decisions on data-driven insights, fostering a culture of evidence-based decision-making rather than relying solely on intuition or anecdotal information. For example, Power BI can quickly identify pupils who are poor attenders, with more than average behaviour points, who are also behind their end of year targets in 5 or more subjects.
  7. Efficient Resource Allocation:
    • By analysing data on student performance, attendance, and other relevant factors, school leaders can optimize resource allocation, ensuring that resources are allocated where they are most needed to enhance student outcomes.
  8. User-friendly Interface:
    • Power BI provides an intuitive and user-friendly interface, borrowing a lot of it’s look and feel from the Microsoft products that your users are already using, making it accessible to individuals with varying levels of technical expertise. This ease of use ensures that school leaders can quickly adopt and leverage the tool for decision-making.
  9. A Single Source of Truth:
    • The data used by a Power BI report is shareable and re-usable in other Power BI reports and even in Excel spreadsheets. Schools can develop and promote the idea a ‘golden dataset’ that is tested and quality assured, then made available to everyone to base their own analyses from.
  10. Compliance and Security:
    • Power BI adheres to industry-standard security protocols, ensuring that sensitive educational data is protected. This is particularly important in the context of privacy regulations and compliance requirements in the education sector. When using Power BI your school data is hosted in the same Microsoft cloud as your emails and files. It is protected by the same user IDs and password that you use to login to your device each day.
  11. Cost-effectiveness:
    • Power BI offers a range of pricing options, including free and affordable subscription plans. This makes it a cost-effective solution for schools looking to implement powerful analytics without breaking the budget. Most users will require a Power BI Pro license, available to schools at £1.70 per user per month.