Analysis: DfE data on CPD and lesson cover spend

Schools using IRIS Connect report lower spending and a higher chance of improving Ofsted grade.

An analysis of the DfE’s CFR data shows that schools regularly using IRIS Connect spent 8% less on cover teaching and 9% less on CPD compared to schools not using IRIS Connect.

8% less on lesson cover9% less on CPD

In 2015-16, schools regularly using IRIS Connect spent on average £10,335 less than the previous year on CPD and cover teaching; whereas schools not using IRIS Connect spent £1,912 more than in the previous year. The differential equates to £12,247.

Spend less on cover teachingSpend less on CPD

School leaders are reporting this saving too:

This data chimes with feedback from the IRIS Connect community about the efficiencies the system helps them to drive, as well as improvements to the quality of CPD:

“I use IRIS Connect regularly to record myself doing model lessons, which I share with several NQTs, RQTs and student teachers at once. We don’t have to provide cover for colleagues to watch model lessons and several colleagues can benefit from one model lesson.”

– Claire Armistead, Leader of T&L at Copthorne Primary School


“IRIS Connect has saved us money on lesson cover costs. We review over 100 teachers in our school. We couldn’t get cover every time we wanted to see a lesson or be part of a lesson.”

– Nigel Currie, Assistant Head, Huntington School

See more feedback from IRIS Connect schools >


The Ofsted data

We also ran an analysis on Ofsted data (February 2017), which found that 64% of schools regularly using IRIS Connect improved by at least one Ofsted grade in their last inspection cycle, compared to 42.5% of other schools.

Ofsted grade data

Details of data sources and analysis:

Analysis of spending data

Data sources for spending analysis:

  • The DFE holds detailed historical data on each school’s expenditure (CFR) which may be downloaded from the DFE’s compare school performance site
  • The IRIS Connect platform reports on usage levels across our user-base


  • This analysis focused on school expenditure under the following headings in the CFR
    • E02 / E10 / E26 ( amalgamated costs of supply cover)
    • E09 Development and training
  • We also used the following data to support the analysis:
    • School name
    • URN – (unique reference number)
    • Phase
    • Number of pupils (FTE)
  • IRIS Connect platform usage data was used to identify grant maintained schools in england who were regular users the IRIS Connect platform – Defined as uploading video, on average, more than once per working week in the previous calendar year.


2014-15 CFR data pertaining to 1 and 2 above were imported and crossmatched with the 2015/16 CFR dataset using school name and URN. Regular IRIS connect users were imported and crossmatched in the same way. Pivot tables were then used to compare the expenditure of regular users of IRIS Connect (Group A) to that of the background population (Group B). This analysis was conducted twice; first for CPD expenditure (E09) and second for amalgamated costs of cover (E02 / E10 and / E26)

  • Change in CPD and Cover expenditures were calculated by establishing the relative differentials of expenditure data between Group A and Group B and is expressed and a percentage of previous 2014/15 expenditure
  • The percentage differentials applied to the previous year’s gross expenditure for groups A and B give the gross expenditure differences between the two groups. These were divided by the number of schools in each cohort to provide average savings data.
  • “Total difference” is an amalgamation of what Group A have saved vs the additional expenditure experienced by group (Group B), and is best described as the extent to which Group A have reduced their expenditure within the broader context of rising costs.
  • Overall statistics like cover spend per pupil and CPD spend per pupil will calculated using expenditure totals and global pupil numbers.


  • Maintained schools only. This spending analysis only related to maintained schools in England. Welsh schools, Academies and Free Schools are excluded at this time. 
  • Totality of spend. While we are confident we have identified the various budget centres relating to providing cover teaching; it’s clear that there may be some “hidden costs of CPD”, potentially within E27 and E28, “Bought in professional services”. These headings were excluded as it’s impossible to attribute what proportion of the budget centre, if any, relate to CPD
  • Regular users. The methodology is open to the criticism that it relates to regular users. However, like any intervention, IRIS Connect has no impact when not implemented. This study sought to explore its potential impact upon schools who had adopted the system into their regular professional learning activities
  • Limited snapshot. We only analysed data from 2014/15 and 2015/16 and as such may have missed broader trends in the data
  • Correlation not causation. We can say from the data that group A reduced their spending when compared to group B. We cannot confidently say that all of the appropriate variables have been accounted for. While we have testimonials and case studies from within Group A attributing their savings and increased efficiency to the use of IRIS Connect this is insufficient to establish a clear chain of causation between adopting IRIS Connect and spending less on CPD and cover teaching.
  • Statistical significance. We have not attempted a statistical treatment of this data to establish significance. At this time this data should be treated as indicative


Analysis of Ofsted data

Data Source:  ‘overall effectiveness’ grades published in Ofsted, School Management Information, 28th February 2017

This was used to identify the percentage of schools in the full population that have improved their Ofsted Grade by one grade or more with schools identified by IRIS Connect management data as using the system on a regular basis.  

The School Management Data includes all schools inspected by Ofsted.

Read more about the impact and ROI of IRIS Connect >

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