Reception Baseline

The DfE published their Reception Baseline validity report on 26th February. For those of you that did not participate in the pilot, this document provides some useful information on the structure and content of the Baseline assessment, along with information on how it is to be administered.

It also summarises the findings of a review of the pilot exercise; this does allay some of the fears that I had about the new assessment, however it doesn't really address some of the fundamental worries I have:

  1. Will this assemment prove to be a reliable baseline for measuring progress at KS2? This question probably wasn't adressed because it is essentially unanswerable. We won't know if using a reception baseline provides a reliable baseline for measuring progress at the end of KS2 until next year's reception cohort reach the end of Year 6 in 2027 - by which time it will be too late to do anything about it. The original 'Value Added' progress methodology enjoyed a degree of confidence amongst the teaching profession because there was a long-term observable correlation between children's attainment at KS1 and KS2. The decision to use a Reception assessment as a baseline for progress is based on an assumption that  there will still be a strong correlation between Reception and KS2. We will have to wait and see.
  2. How will pupil mobility be handled / taken into account? My biggest worry with this issue is that it will just be ignnored. The current situation is problematic enough, with schools inheriting the KS1 assessments of any child joining them during KS2, but the potential for pupil movement is essentially doubled once we extend the baseline back to reception. Many schools will have children that have moved schools multiple times between Reception and Year 6 - is it really fair to hold the the 'last school in the chain' accountable for all that has gone before?
  3. EAL v SEND. Again, this is an existing problem with the current methodology for calculating progress, which may well be exacerbated under the new system. It is safe to assume that many of the children with the lowest scores in the new assessment will have SEND, however it may well also be the case that many children with low scores will have EAL. While the children with SEND are more likely to still have low attainment at KS2, we know that EAL children tend to catch up with (and often exceed) 'average' attainment by the end of KS2. The validity report talks about how the new assessment can be succesfully accessed by both groups, but it does not make any mention of whether these pupil characteristics will be taken into account when progress measures are taken into account. If - as is currently the case - all children with similar prior atttainment are treated as having exactly the same potential for achievement at KS2, then we are likely to see an even greater exaggeration of the 'un-level playing field' where schools with high EAL and low SEND populations are advantaged and schools with low EAL and high SEND populations face a potentially unwinnable uphill battle.

Of course, by the time we get to 2027, we will almost certainly have a new Education Secretary, (and probably a different government altogether) so it will be easy for whoever is in charge to blame the previous administration for implementing such a ridiculous idea - and to replace it with something else!

2020 Progress guessing game


Latest DfE statement (November 2019):

"We are currently working on the methodology for calculating the 2020 KS1-KS2 progress measures. We will be carrying out development work, testing and engaging with schools and stakeholders over the coming months. We plan to say more about any potential changes to the methodology by Spring 2020.  

Although the input at KS1 is different, we are trying to keep the methodology as similar to previous years as possible to ensure the measures don't feel drastically different for schools. The exact progress methodology cannot be confirmed till September 2020 as we need to have the summer 2020 results before confirming the best way to calculate primary progress measures."

My best guess as to what will eventually happen:

• The DfE could adapt the current system and create a new set of prior attainment groups (PAGs) based on the new assessment categories.

• The 'old' PAGs were based on KS1 point scores, but it would be possible to create new PAGS representing all the different combinations of KS1 outcomes under the new framework.

Individual children’s scaled scores could still be compared against the national average of the scaled scores in the PAG to which they belong, and a ‘Value Added’ score calculated.

The individual Value Added scores could then be averaged across the year group to get a whole school figure, as before.


The PAG containing all children who achieved EXS in all three subjects will be

HUGE!! About 50% of children nationally achieved EXS in R,W,M, individually.

No specific national figures for the  proportion of children achieving EXS in R,W & M, but a conservative estimate would be 30%.

All children in the same PAG are treated as if they are exactly the same (in terms of prior attainment, and have the same potential to achieve by the end of KS2. In reality, there will be a huge range of abilities within the central PAG.

IDSRs Published 10/10/19


The IDSRs have been published, and are available for download now - it's a bit strange that there was no official email to  alert us, but there you go.

Once you've  logged into ASP, click on the 'All Reports' menu item, then 'Ofsted  inspection data summary reports'. In this section you will see a new  link -  'Visit the Ofsted IDSR service' - click on this and your 2019  IDSR should open up in a new tab.

I've  seen a few IDSRs already, and they all have quite a lot of 'grey' text  throughout. This is not a problem! It means that your figures are not  significantly different to national performance. 

09/07/19 KS2 National Results published


National results have just been published here:


65% of pupils reached the expected standard in all of reading, writing and maths (combined) in 2019, up from 64% in 2018. Nice to see that the national figure has finally got above Floor Standard, now that Floor Standards have been scrapped 😊

In Reading, 73% of pupils reached the expected standard in 2019, down by 2 percentage points from 2018.  VERY INTERESTING!!

In Maths, 79% of pupils reached the expected standard, up by 3 percentage points from 2018.  ALSO VERY INTERESTING!!

In Writing TA, 78% of pupils reached the expected standard in 2019, unchanged from 2018.

In GPS, 78% of pupils reached the expected standard, unchanged from 2018.

The average scaled score in reading is 104, down from 105 in 2018. The average scaled score in maths is 105, up from 104. The average scaled score in GPS is unchanged at 106.

Nothing on higher standards yet as they haven’t published the thresholds. These weren’t published until August last year, but I’d be surprised if they change from 110.

04/03/19 Thoughts on the Reception Baseline Assessment Framework


Last week, the DfE published their framework for the Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA). The relevant documents can be downloaded here: There’s also a lovely video for you to watch. Here’s a few observations from me:

  • The first thing to note is that the DfE states that this information “only relates to the 2019/2 national pilot of the reception baseline assessment”, so we probably need to assume that anything in this document is subject to change as a result of lessons learned from the pilot.
  • It also states that this information has been produced “ for those who write assessment materials and to guide subsequent development and assessment construction”. This suggests to me that the actual assessment materials that are going to be used in the pilot might not have actually been finalised yet and this publication is setting out the framework against which the assessment      materials should be produced.
  • The document states that the assessment will be carried out ‘on-line’ but there’s no mention of      how/where it will be accessed, e.g. via NCA TOOLS or some third party portal.
  • It is very clear what this assessment is not for: it is not intended to be a formative or diagnostic assessment, and it will not be used as a performance or accountability measure. Presumably, this means RBA data will not appear in ASP or the IDSR. It also means that this exercise will need to      be undertaken in addition to any existing formative assessments which the school currently undertakes.
  • All pupils need to be assessed within 6 weeks of joining reception. Each assessment will take      about 20 minutes and needs to be undertaken by a “suitable” practitioner with whom the children are familiar (e.g. class teacher or TA). So, if you have a reception cohort of 60 children, it’s going to take at least a  full week of a key member of staff’s time to administer this exercise.
  • The assessment “consists of practical tasks, using physical resources”, but no examples of these      practical tasks are provided.
  • The adult undertaking the assessment will record directly into the online system whether the      child has successfully completed each task, in the form of a Yes/No Response. It strikes me that it’s possible that there could be considerable room for interpretation over whether a child has completed the task sufficiently well to achieve a ‘Yes’ response. The documentation states that the adults who undertake the assessment need to be “fully trained”, but no further details are provided of what training will be available.
  • The assessment will be comprised of a number of “content domains”.  These will include      mathematics tasks (early number, early calculation, mathematical language, early understanding of shape) and  Language, Communication & Literacy tasks (early vocabulary, phonological awareness, early reading, early comprehension). The maths and LCL components will be roughly equally weighted.
  • The online system uses intelligent “routing”, i.e. if a child struggles with some tasks, they may      not be required to undertake all of the tasks. I can see how it is desirable not to force a child to undertake all of the tasks if a some of them are beyond their current abilities, but an automated system of “routing” might have the potential to provide false results. What if a more-able child is not engaged / concentrating at the start of the assessment and isn’t successful in some of the initial tasks? Will they be prevented from attempting tasks that they could have successfully      completed?
  • The assessment “has been  designed so that pupils with SEND and those learning English as an      additional language can participate”, however the practitioner can choose  to discontinue the assessment at any time, presumably if they think that the child is not able to access the tasks.
  • A total of 45 marks are available in the test, but there is no pass mark. Schools “will be  provided with a series of narrative statements to describe how each pupil performed on the different content domains” but children’s scores will not be provided. This could have major implications for      approaches to tracking pupil progress. At the moment, we know a child’s prior attainment (at KS1) and this gives us a pretty good idea of what that child needs to achieve at KS2 in order to achieve ‘average progress’. If the child’s RBA prior attainment is not shared with the school (or, presumably, with anyone else) then we won’t know what that child needs to be working towards by the end of KS2. It could be argued that this is a good thing, and will encourage schools to focus on      effective teaching and learning: if they get that right then progress measures will take care of themselves. However, if progress indicators continue to play a part in high-stakes accountability measures, then there will always be a motivation for schools to monitor children’s progress      against some kind of target. This could lead to a growth in a demand for the use of  third party standardised testing as an alternative source of baseline assessment and ongoing progress monitoring. This also calls into question the future viability of systems such as FFTAspire, which      rely on access to detailed prior attainment data to populate their target setting models. If schools aren’t going to be given the RBA scores, then FFTAspire can’t be given them either!
  • If children’s scores are really going to be kept secret, with no indication of how individuals or      cohorts have performed in relation to national benchmarks, this removes the opportunity to identify and address unintentional variations in the administration or interpretation of assessments, which could have a major impact on scores at a school or regional level. By the time the first progress measures are published in 2027, another 6 cohorts of children  will have already been assessed “in the dark” against the RBA, and any problems identified will only be able to be addressed for the cohort that will reach the end of KS2 in 2034!! 
  • The framework gives very little information about the detail of the KS2 cohort level progress      measures which will be based on the RBA data. For example, they make no mention of how pupil mobility, or children with no prior attainment data will be handled. We can only hope that the potential implications of the proposed approach will be given some more thought before the first      statutory assessments in the autumn of 2020.

04/02/19 ASP & FFTAspire Updates. 

ASP now has Absence and EYFSP data for 2018. Your IDSR may now include additional ‘Areas to Investigate’ statements for these areas. If you would like me to update your Autumn Analysis Report with absence and EYFSP data, please send me new copies of your School Performance Summary and IDSR.

FFTAspire has been updated with revised 2018 data and estimates have also been updated, based on the most recent national progress data. However, there are still no estimates in the system for current Year 1. It also appears that the system still hasn’t been updated with the Autumn census data, because schools I’ve worked with over the last few days have said that there are children appearing in the target setting section who left a while ago. If you haven’t set up the ‘Data Exchange’ feature in Aspire yet, I would recommend doing so as it’s quite easy and will update the pupil lists in FFTAspire on a daily basis, from your SIMS system.

07/01/19 - Ofsted  to no longer look at internal progress data


Now that we’ve had all of the big data releases and the performance tables have been published, we should be entering a bit of a quieter phase in the data world. I will, however, be keeping an eye on the DFE and Ofsted publications and will do my best to alert you to anything they might sneak out while they think no one’s looking. One thing that caught my eye right at the end of term was this video that Ofsted released ( Ostensibly, it addresses their new approach to considering ‘Data in the context of the curriculum’; however, the big bombshell was that they are proposing that from September 2019 “inspectors will not look at schools’ internal progress and attainment data”. Their official justification for this is that it will allow them to spend more time gathering first hand evidence of pupil progress by observing lessons and looking at books etc, but it is also probably an admission that they simply don’t have the time/skills/energy to understand and evaluate the bewildering array of different systems which schools now employ to monitor the progress of their children. They have, however, also said that they will continue to look at ‘historic, published performance data’, so I think we do still need to be evaluating previous years’ performance in order to get an idea of what inspectors will be wanting to look at when they come to school.

So, if Ofsted aren’t going to be looking at your internal tracking data, there is even more of an incentive for you to review what you are collecting and analysing – and to question whether it is useful and what it is telling you. How about a New Year’s Data Resolution: Keep it simple, cut out the unnecessary and time-consuming, and only do it if it is going to contribute to improved pupil outcomes!

26/10/18 - IDSR Published

About blummin' time too!

24/10/18 - KS2 data in ASP

At about 5pm last night, the ASP system was updated with KS2 data for 2018. However, there’s still no data for other key stages and there’s no mention of the IDSR report (which wasn’t produced until early November last year).

03/10/18 - October round-up

We’re already one month into this exceptionally long autumn term, so it must be time for another summary of what’s been going on (or not) in the data world.


  • Still no news of when ASP will be populated with 2018 data at each key stage. This is disappointing, because there was at least some KS2 data in ASP by this time last year. I’m checking my ASP on a daily-basis 😉 and will let you know as soon as there are any developments.
  • Question Level Analysis of KS2 test results is in ASP (and has been since August). If you haven’t logged in and accessed this yet, I recommend you do so.
  • Talking of logging in, please can I remind everyone to try to log in to ASP as soon as possible, if you haven’t done this since the end of last year. The ASP system has been moved to a new ‘portal’ (DfE Sign-in). This process of migrating from the old Secure Access portal to this new one seemed to go smoothly for me when I did it during the summer, but I know that some people were struggling with it a couple of weeks ago. This could have been down to a temporary technical problem with the system.There is a DfE guide available for download from the login page if you need more information on this.
  • When the new 2018 data does finally appear in ASP, you will be able to make use of a new Data Management function. This is a feature that used to be in the old RAISE, but disappeared when ASP was introduced. Basically, it allows you to remove children from a ‘mirror’ data set, to allow you to investigate and demonstrate the impact of individuals and groups of children on you stats.


  • KS2 data for 2018 is now available in FFTAspire. All the usual interactive tools are there, along with the PDF dashboards.
  • KS1 2018 data is not currently available and according to their release schedule it won’t arrive until December.
  • Estimates to support target setting are STILL not available for your current Year 2 (FFT are blaming DfE for the delay), but their release schedule indicates that they will be made available in October or November. Estimates for current Year 1 and Year 3 are scheduled for December.
  • FFT piloted a new ‘early KS1 data’ service this year. It looks as though this service could help to by-pass the delays in accessing KS1 data, by getting schools to upload their own data direct to FFT. If you want to register your interest for this service for 2019, there is more information here:



  • Ofsted released a ‘Special Edition’ (whoop!) of their school inspection update, which isn’t very easy to find online, but can be accessed here:
  • This newsletter contains some advice for inspectors on how they should be interpreting the data in the IDSR,  and a note on the ‘cap’ on extremely negative progress scores and how this will be shown in the data. There’s also a section on Floor standards and Coasting School definitions (they are staying in place for now but there will be no mention of them in the IDSR and inspectors have been told not to make reference to them in inspection reports).
  • Possibly of more interest is the ongoing debate around what data inspectors will be expecting to see. Amanda Spielman’s speech in the summer seemed to confirm that we are now officially in an era where Ofsted really don’t want to see lots of spreadsheets which require 6-weekly data drops and take days to produce. Instead, their forthcoming new inspection framework will have a focus on the strength of the curriculum. However, back in the real world, there is still plenty of evidence that inspectors are still expecting to see numbers which ‘prove’ progress. Even Damian Hinds is publicly doubting that Ofsted are doing much to reduce teacher’s workload, and he has even suggested that the new inspection framework could increase workload. In fact, he doesn’t seem to think that there is a lot that the government can do about reducing workload either. So that’s another thing for schools to sort out for themselves I suppose.

Only 24 more sleeps until half-term!
04/09/18 - Back to school...

Let’s start with what’s happened in the days and weeks before the start of term:

  • KS2 Tables Checking Exercise. This website opened for business on Monday morning, it’s your opportunity to check the information that will be published in the Performance Tables – and crucially – to apply to have children removed from the tables, for example, if they are ‘recently arrived from overseas’. Of course, you will need your account details to get in to the system, but there are the usual email addresses if you can’t get in. The FAQs document states that “The Headteacher will be sent a single username”, presumably via email. Once you are in the system, there should be a number of tabs, one will show you the results (including progress scores) for individual children and another tab will provide the school-level results (also including progress). If you want me to update your Early Analysis Report with these ‘official’ progress scores, rather than the unofficial figures provided via Perspective Lite, please send me a copy of the school-level summary sheet. I don’t need pupil level data.
  • KS2 Marking Reviews. If you have applied for marking reviews, these won’t yet be reflected in the provisional data in the tables checking website. Apparently, the results of the reviews will be published on the NCA tools website on 12th September, but any amendments that are made as a result of the reviews won’t be reflected in your data until the Spring term.
  • Perspective Lite make-over. I’ve just logged into Perspective Lite, for the first time in – ooh – days, and the home screen has completely changed. I’m not sure if it’s an improvement yet, but I have managed to find my way around. Don’t be shocked if you do log in!
  • FFT Site-merger. FFT have completed their project to merge the main site with the administration site. I haven’t spotted any problems with it and existing user accounts seem to be working OK.

Now, on to this morning’s publications:

  • KS2 National Provisional Data. DfE have published their Statistical Release giving full details of the provisional KS2 results. These confirm that the unofficial figures in Perspective Lite (which have been available since the 10th July and which I have used in my reports) are accurate for all measures. To summarise:  64% of pupils reached the expected standard in all of reading, writing and maths, while 10% of pupils reached the higher standard. 75% reached the expected standard in Reading, 78% reached the expected standard in Writing, 76% reached the expected standard in Maths, and 78% reached the expected standard in GPS. Full details here:
  • KS2 Higher standard threshold remains unchanged at 110. I did assume this in my reports, so the figures I have provided for your school will be accurate. National figures for the higher standard are: Reading 28%, Writing 20%, Maths 24%, GSP 34%, Combined RWM 10%.
  • Primary Accountability Document 2018. I was hoping this document would be released today too, and it has just appeared. It is currently downloadable from here: , but I expect that URL will change as it looks like a temporary holding address. This document provides all of the technical information to support the data that has been released, including the new Prior Attainment Groups, methodology for capping extreme negative progress scores and the arrangements for this year’s floor standards. I’ve not had chance to look at it in detail yet, but it does confirm that the existing floor standards will stay in place this year, but won’t be used to intervene in schools; they will only trigger ‘offers of support’. The Coasting definitions also stay in place, for now. There is also confirmation of the consultation to replace the existing flor standards with new measures. Once I’ve had chance to digest the more detailed information, I’ll be back in touch if there’s anything important to alert you to.

That’s all for now!
23/07/18 - End of year round-up

Hello everyone, I think some of you have already broken up already, while others have got training days this week and some are seeing it through to the bitter end on Wednesday - whenever you get to go on your holidays, I hope you have a great time!

I’m well under way with report-writing and all of the Version 1 reports should be sent out by the end of July (apart from the schools that have already had a September delivery agreed). It looks like I will be spending most of my long, hot summer sat in front of a computer screen!

As mentioned in a previous email, there are unofficial KS2 progress figures available already in Perspective Lite. When I started looking at these and comparing them with previous years’ data I noticed that the Confidence Intervals associated with the average progress scores were about twice as large as usual. I queried this with the LA, who took it up with Angel Solutions and it turned out they had made an error somewhere along the line and they have re-generated all the analyses and there are new versions to download. So, if you downloaded any progress figures for your school before about midday on 20th July, you might want to get a fresh copy – or you can just wait until you get my report.
You probably won’t be in the mood for this at the moment, but both the DfE and FFT have sent emails recently, warning us that the login procedures for their online systems are changing. For FFTAspire, you probably won’t notice any changes unless you log in as an administrator, and hopefully the changes will make this system simpler as there will only be one site to log in to  - more details are coming soon, apparently. For ASP, it’s more complicated of course. They are moving access to this system from ‘Secure Access’ to ‘DfE Sign-in’ (I think it’s just more rationalisation of systems in an attempt to cut costs). So, next time you try to log in to ASP via Secure Access, you will be taken through a series of steps to move your account details over to DfE Sign-in. I’ve done it once and it went OK, but I would advise you to do it as soon as possible, when you’ve got a few spare minutes, rather than in the autumn term when everyone is trying to download their new data and the helpdesk is in meltdown.  Another reason to log into ASP soon will be to get hold of your Question Level Analysis for the 2018 tests – this should be available as soon as early August! Finally, it seems as though the DfE have been pushing the boundaries of irony by sending out dozens of emails about reducing workload. As far as I can tell, it’s not actually necessary to read all of this stuff, because there’s a handy toolkit here: . However, the irony reaches comical levels when you see that the toolkit includes a template which will help you to undertake an audit of your current data collection activities. My advice is just to use your common sense  - and every time you record, collect or analyse any data about your children, ask yourself: ‘How will this help to improve outcomes for our children?’. If it takes you more than a few seconds to come up with an answer, then it might be time to stop doing it.
All the best for the summer!
11/07/18 Special Consideration at KS2

This issue popped up on twitter late last night. I must admit it’s not something I’ve come across before in terms of it having an effect on schools’ results, but it looks like it may do this year.

Here’s the link to the official DfE guidance ( , but the fundamentals are as follows:
Schools were able to apply for ‘special consideration’ for individual pupils in the week after SATs were undertaken.
The circumstances which make a child eligible for special consideration are described in the guidance, but it’s basically there for children who have experienced distressing events in the run up to or during SATS week.
If you have made an application for special consideration and it has been accepted, you will see a ‘+’ sign next to the child’s name on the NCA Tools results spreadsheet. This means that in the final performance tables results, the child’s scaled score will be increased by 3 points. This will certainly affect their progress score and may affect their overall attainment result if they are, for example, within 3 scaled score points of achieving the expected standard. It will also have an effect on your overall school progress score, your average scaled score and potentially the percentage of children achieving the expected or higher standards.
11/07/18 Where to get an idea of your KS2 progress figures

A number of schools have asked me if there’s anywhere they can get hold of progress figures. If the same thing happens as last year, you should receive progress figures based on provisional data, from the DfE, as part of the Tables Checking Exercise at the end of August / beginning of September. However, there are some unofficial sources which you could look at before then.

Jamie Pembroke has produced a ‘VA calculator’ spreadsheet which can be downloaded from here (please follow the instructions for downloading the file carefully!). If you use this spreadsheet, you will need to type in the results of the children from the NCA spreadsheet and it will calculate individual progress scores and also provide whole school progress scores. PLEASE NOTE: this spreadsheet calculates progress against the 2017 methodology and national progress rates. The 2018 figures WILL be different, so this is just to give you an idea of progress.
Last night I spotted that there are progress analyses currently available on Perspective Lite! Last year, these were made available to schools in error and were taken off the system as soon as I asked the site administrators about them. They’ve appeared again this year; I don’t know if this is another error or whether it is intentional, but if you do want to have a look at yours, I suggest you log into Perspective Lite as soon as possible and download them (and keep this information to yourselves or they may disappear again!!). To access these reports, Log in to Perspective Lite, then click on ‘LA’ on the menu ribbon. Then click on the ‘Reports’ icon. A screen showing all available reports will appear, scroll down the screen until you see ‘KS2 Progress Pupil List (KEYPAS)’ and ‘KS” Progress School List (KEYPAS)’. Run both of these reports. The first will give you individual progress scores, the second will give you whole school progress scores. The whole school report is potentially confusing as it shows all positive progress scores in green and all negative scores in red, which might lead you to think they are significantly above or below average. This is not the case. Any score that is significant has an additional + or – next to it. These reports can be exported to pdf or excel.  Again, the figures in these reports should be treated with caution and only as a guide. I’ve no idea how they’ve been calculated as there’s no technical documentation with them. If they are still available when I write the Early Analysis reports I’ll use these figures, with a health warning.
If you do use either of these sources of information to get an idea of your progress, I would strongly advise that they are only used for internal reporting and not published on the school website, or on social media, or reported to parents!
10/07/18    2018 KS2 National Results released

Here they are.. assuming they are correct!

64% of pupils reached the expected standard in all of reading, writing and maths in 2018. Up 3%pts on last year, but still below floor standard – good job they are scrapping it!
In writing TA, the proportion of pupils who reached the expected standard in 2018 is 78%. Up 2%pts on last yearIn reading, 75% of pupils reached the expected standard in 2018, up by 4 percentage points
In maths, 76% of pupils reached the expected standard, up by 1 percentage point.In GPS, 78% of pupils reached the expected standard, up by 1 percentage point.The average scaled score in reading has increased to 105, compared to 104 in 2017. The average scaled score remains the same in maths and GPS, at 104 and 106 respectively.

No details on high scores / greater depth…
Here’s the link to the relevant page on the DfE website
16/04/18 - The 'tracking' debate continues, 'machine learning' and the Reception Baseline Assessment. Just another quiet Easter break...

There has been a flurry of data-related announcements and news stories over the last couple of weeks, here’s a summary of those that have caught my eye:

Ofsted expectations around ‘tracking’ in foundation subjects. This issue reared its head last year, with rumours circulating that Ofsted were expecting schools to track children’s progress in the same way that they track progress in reading, writing and maths. I thought that this ‘myth’ had been scotched by official confirmation from Ofsted that schools should track pupils’ progress in whatever way they feel is best and that schools should not be wasting time collecting and analysing unnecessary data. However, it would appear that this official message from Ofsted may not have been understood by all inspectors: a number of recent inspections, including those of some Leeds schools have included recommendations that schools should develop “systems to assess and track the progress of pupils in subject-specific skills”. Clare Sealy (an influential London headteacher) has written a very useful blog on this subject, which generated a lot of discussion on social media and which prompted Sean Harford (Ofsted National Director) to tweet that schools should not misinterpret these recommendations as a directive to start filling in more spreadsheets and databases: “ ‘Track’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘use data’… as a teacher I might track the progress of pupils through the curriculum by reviewing their books and other work, for example, then draw conclusions about what I need to re-teach ”. So, if you get ‘the visit’ and your inspector starts telling you that you should be collecting data in a specific format or for specific groups / subjects, then it might be worth referring them to the official advice from their boss!

Timing of inspections to be informed by ‘Supervised Machine Learning’. Just before we broke up for Easter, Ofsted published a ‘methodology note’ which confirmed that their risk assessment process for identifying which schools to prioritise for inspection (from summer term 2018) will be informed by ‘supervised machine learning’. Until now, the methodology has used pre-determined data thresholds to identify schools, but this new approach sees a range of historic performance data used to predict the ‘probability of a forthcoming inspection being less than good’. This does seem to clash with Ofsted’s protestations that inspections are not ‘data driven’, because it implies a clear link between performance data and inspection outcomes. However, they are very keen to emphasise that “this algorithm is only used as stage 1 of the risk assessment process” and that “in no way do the algorithm results impact on inspection judgements”!

Short inspection timeframes amended. It looks as though all annual leave at Ofsted Head Office was cancelled over Easter, because as well as playing with artificial intelligence, they have also published updates to the Section 8 and Section 5 inspection handbooks. The headline news from these updates is that they are extending the usual timeframe within which good schools receive a short inspection, from approximately 3 to 4 years. The maximum period in which they would return remains the statutory 5 years from the end of the academic year of the previous inspection. They have also changed the re-inspection window, so that all schools judged to be less than good will be re-inspected within 30 months, irrespective of whether they are ‘requires improvement’, ‘serious weaknesses’ or ‘special measures’. In his blog, Sean Harford admits that these changes are at least partly driven by the need for Ofsted to “do better with less” and to meet “the challenge of reduced resources”. These changes come in to immediate effect, from the start of this term.

Reception baseline assessment guidance published. The DfE and STA have, in the last few days, published more information on the roll-out of the ‘RBA’. The ‘preferred supplier’ of the assessment has been confirmed as NfER (which is no surprise since they were the only company left that was still willing to take it on) and the national roll-out schedule has been confirmed as September 2020, with a large scale voluntary pilot in September 2019. This means that the earliest date which KS1 assessments will become non-statutory is the academic year 2023-24  and that the first progress scores based on the Reception baseline will be published in the autumn of 2027. There has been confusion over the detail of the progress measures which will be generated under the new system. One specific area of concern has been around how infant / junior schools will be handled: the DfE did come up with a couple of proposals in their consultation document, but have now decided that they “cannot proceed with either of the options” and that these schools will have “responsibility for evidencing progress based on their own assessment information” (i.e. they won’t have any official progress data published!). Infant schools, will have a statutory duty to administer the RBA, but they won’t have to undertake KS1 assessments when they become non-statutory in 2023. So, as far as I can see, infant schools won’t have any official performance data from 2023 onwards, apart from their Phonics results - lucky them! The other area of confusion is around how pupil mobility will be handled: there appears to be a lack of clarity as to whether ‘mobile’ pupils will be included, or whether, for example, the measure will only include those pupils who have attended the same school from reception to Year 6. Whichever option is chosen, I would imagine that a lot of schools will have such low ‘retention’ figures that their progress figures would have to be considered to be of limited reliability and that the DfE might have to consider a retention threshold under which figures are not published. Jamie Pembroke has been doing some more detailed crystal-ball gazing here.

20/03/18 - General Data Protection Regulation.

 The Data Protection Act (DPA) will be superseded by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25th May 2018, it is important for schools to ensure that that their own systems - and those of any organisations that process data on their behalf - satisfy the requirements of GDPR.
The DfE has issued guidance to schools on GDPR which recommends that schools ask their suppliers some key questions about their systems. I will shortly be publishing the information my customers need to know about Ian  Stokes Education Ltd and GDPR, but if you would like to contact me direct for a chat, that's fine too!

14/11/2017 OFSTED Dashboards in ASP

The new OFSTED dashboards have been released! They can be downloaded from ASP (Secure Access website) now.

02/11/2017 KS1 data in ASP

KS1 data for 2017 (including Phonics) has been uploaded to ASP. Still no sign of those new Ofsted Inspection Dashboards yet though!

26/09/2017 KS2 data in ASP

Just to alert you to the fact (if you haven’t already spotted it for yourselves!) that KS2 data has now been uploaded to ASP, as per the message below:

Analyse school performance (ASP) Update

KS2 data is now available in ASP - this is provisional data for 2016/17. CLA data is not currently available, therefore we are not publishing breakdowns of data such as disadvantaged; this will be added at the end of October along with KS1 and Phonics data for 2017. Provisional KS4 data will be available towards the end of November.