It's in our DNA. It's part of everything we do, from the way we develop our products, to the way we interact together.
We are so passionate about innovation, that one day a month is dedicated to exactly that: each Angel is given the freedom to work on whatever they want! We’ve even created an innovative circus-themed space to work in which includes a gypsy caravan, ball pool, big top, grandstand, fairground mirrors and a popcorn machine!
We have an incredibly bright and creative team. Just look at some of the ideas we have come up with…
We came up with the idea of Watchsted on one of our monthly innovation days. We wanted to create a tool that presents the very latest Ofsted inspection data in a simple and meaningful way to save people time. We created the inspections map for people to visualise the latest inspections for schools and children's centres all over the country. The map contains a simple view of each inspection’s summary grades and a quick link to the school or centre on the Ofsted website. Since then we have added search and analysis tools, performance tables and word clouds and have thousands of followers on twitter
Another idea sparked from an innovation day was to summarise school pupil level data on a single page. Infographics are becoming more commonplace to represent ‘big data’ in a simple and meaningful way. All schools in England complete a census return to the DFE and it was this commonality that enabled us to build a simple interface for schools that let them create this infographic in a matter of seconds. This tool is now in use across over 9,000 schools in England and used ahead of governor meetings as well as in readiness for Ofsted inspections.
ParentView is a site provided by Ofsted to give parents a chance to give feedback on their school. This site is also used during an Ofsted inspection. We wanted a way to alert a local authority to a school's sudden uptake in parental feedback as early as possible so they could take any necessary action.
We love visualising data using Google maps and other mapping technologies. We have experimented with visualising our own data, public domain data in new and innovative ways. We’ve explored heatmaps and additional data layers, we’ve done other data mashups to identify patterns. Some of these projects like Watchsted are now live! We also created an in-house tool using Google Earth showing location based activity across our products. It was exciting for staff to see different locations being zoomed into on our big screen.
Working with nearly every Local Authority in England and with massive data sets, we are constantly exploring innovative ways of representing this data. Value added measures in schools, real-time data dashboards showing draft national figures months in advance of publication, all using the latest technologies and knocking spots off existing reports and spreadsheets that are commonplace.
As part of our Circus-themed office, we took a day to build games and activities visitors could enjoy when they come to see us. These included: Shooting Angels — compete with other visitors to see who can knock over the most mini-Angels and get the highest score; The Clown — ball throwing game for points; And Steady Heady Grandstand — keep the wand steady as you follow the course! Besides having a really fun day, we loved seeing the creativity-in-action as our small teams worked together. (Plus, it' great to give our visitors an excuse for a bit of healthy competition!)