This edition will mainly focus on the IDSR and ASP. It's going to be tough to make this entertaining, but I'll do my best to keep it readable.
As previousy mentioned, IDSR and ASP were updated (to a greater or lesser extent) with 2023 Primary Performance Data on Thursday 19th October and I've been told by one of the readers of this newsletter that when they got the call from Ofsted on Wednesday the 18th the inspector already had a copy of their IDSR.
The IDSR and ASP don't appear to be running to exactly the same data-release schedules: the IDSR already had statements relating to Phonics, KS1 & KS2 when they were published on 19th, but at that time ASP only had 2023 data for KS2. It has since been updated with 2023 KS1 data but at the time of writing we are still waiting for 2023 Phonics data to appear in ASP. Another difference between the two is that ASP has a slot for MTC data (currently still 2022) while Phonics odes not appear to mention this assessment at all.
The ASP data release schedule did originally state that KS2, KS1 and Phonics would be made available in October, but it has now been updated to 'November' for Phonics. MTC is also scheduled for November, along with KS4 performance data and Absence data for the 1st 2 terms of 2022-23.
In order to access the IDSR and ASP you need to log in to the DfE Sign-in Portal. Each user has individual permissions and you will only be able to see ASP if you have the appropriate permissions. There will be someone in school (oftern the Buisness Manager) who is the 'administrator' for the system and can update users permissions.
Once logged in you should be able to see a link to Analysing School Performance and when you click on it ASP will be launched. The data for each key stage is organised in separate Tabs near the top of the screen, and there is a vertical side-bar menu which allows you to view reports for specific subjects, groups etc. If you're not a fan of playing with data online and would prefer to download and read a report, the best thing to do is click on the 'All Reports' Tab, then click on 'School Performance Summary' and then click on the 2022-23 edition of the report. This again brings up an interactive web-format report, but you can also click on 'Download pdf to print or save' on the right hand side of the screen. Again, at the time of writing, this report only includes 2023 data for KS1 and KS2, not Phonics.
The IDSR can also be downloaded from the 'All Reports' Tab of ASP, it's the 1st link at the top of the list of available reports. When you click on it reveals another link 'visit the OFSTED IDSR service'. When you click on this, if you are lucky it will take you straight to the IDSR but sometimes it makes you log in again. Once there, the IDSR is again presented in web-based format by default, but there's a button that allows you to 'Print this page' - you can 'print' to pdf or to a printer for a paper copy.
Once you have managed to download/view the IDSR you may be even more underwhelmed than usual especially in terms of the information relating to academic performance. The sections of the IDSR are broadly the same as before:
Links to alternative provision and alternative providers
Suspensions & permanent exclusions
Progress & attainment at KS1 and KS2
Most primary schools IDSRs won't exceed 3 pages and the progress and attainment section will rarely fill more than half a page. They've dropped the previous format in which there was a statement for every subject at each key stage, even if was just 'there is nothing to highlight for...". Instead, they are only listing those measures which are significantly above or below national. It is quite possible, therefore, that there will be some schools that don't have anything at all shown in the Progress & Attainment and Pupil Group sections of the IDSR.
It is worth noting, however, that if you are using the web-based interactive format of the IDSR you can click on the 'Non-significant data' link which should reveal all of the performance measures for KS2 and KS1 (which includes Phonics); this will show the school result compared to the national result, along with the national percentile in which the school result sits. The reporting of percentiles in the IDSR is new this year (previously they just told you whether the result was significantly above or below national and if it was in the top or bottom 20% of schools nationally) and you had to cross-reference against a technical spreadsheet to see the detail of where your result fell in the national distribution. It should be noted that if your school result is in 100th percentile it is in the top 1% of national results and that if it is in the 1st percentile it is in the bottom 1% nationally.
It's been a relatively quiet month in respect of other educational news, especially once the dust had settled on conference season (see previous update) and since everyone's attention has been focussed on events elsewhere in the world. It's worth providing a reminder of a few things that may have slipped under the radar:
Notable national statistical releases scheduled for November include:
I'm really struggling to find anything worthy of finishing off this month's missive, Gillian Keegan's pathetic attempt to rile the culture warriors over RHSE curriculum materials thankfully didn't seem to attract too much attention, while Labour quickly squashed her threats to implement minimum service levels by sayng they would immediately scrap them when they come into office. "Thankfully" Gavin Williamson has come to my rescue (he can always be relied upon to provide something horrible/hilarious to talk about): evidence submitted to the COVID inquiry shows that he resisted calls for the introduction of masks in schools simply because he didn't want to 'surrender' to the unions. I'm afraid the COVID inquiry is repeatedly confirming what we already knew: that while schools were not just being left to sort out the crisis on their own, their efforts were also being actively hampered by the chaos, incompetence, greed, deceit and immorality that permeated the whole of government at that time.
Apologies for the long delay in getting one of these missives out to you this month. This is partly due to me not knowing where or when to start making sense of all of the stuff coming out of the party conferences, partly because I'm still really busy writing reports and partly because Ofsted have been all over Leeds like a rash recently - including at the school where I'm a governor.
For those of you that have already had a visit this term, I hope it went well. For those of you that are waiting for an iminent call, our experience is that it was a tough but fair process, with a major focus on Persistent Absence. I know that this is a challenge for many schools in Leeds: our inspector was insistent that they needed to see evidence, not just of what the school was doing to tackle and reduce PA, but also that those activities were having an impact. Having analysis already at hand, or the capacity to produce it at short notice would be very beneficial going into the inspection window.
Talking of OFSTED and data, our inspector mentioned that they were expecting the 2023 performance data to be made available to them 'very soon'. The data release timetable on ASP states that provisional KS2, KS1 & Phonics data should be released in October, and the IDSRs were published in half term last year, so it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect the same this year. I'm checking the website regularly and will send an email to you all as soon as I see or hear anything. It's worth noting that a couple of weeks ago OFSTED announced that performance data will once again be the “starting point on inspection” once the 2023 data becomes available and that recent training sessions and conferences for inspectors had indicated that if performance data was poor, inspectors would need to make sure evidence showed the school was on the way to improvement for it to achieve a ‘good’ grade.
For those of you eyeing up the prospect of an inspection in 2024-25 or 2025-26, it is worth remembering that KS2 outcomes for 2024 & 2025 will be measured solely in terms of attainment: progress measures will not be available due to the lack of KS1 prior attainment data for those cohorts. I imagine, therefore, that it will be even more important than ever to focus on those children in your current Y6 who will be on the borderline of achieving the expected and/or higher standards, in order to boost your 'percentages' as much as possible. It feelss like a backwards step, but an unavoidable one due to the lack of data caused by COVID.
Since my last update the DfE have published national attainment data at KS2 and KS1/Phonics. There won't be anything new to you in these releases if you've had one of my Analysis Reports and/or been looking at the data in Perspective Lite, which has once again turned out to be extremely accurate and available months before the official data is released.
There's a few of you on the circulation list who are interested in Secondary Phase data: on 19th October DfE will be releasing 2023 KS4 national attainment data, KS4 attainment data at MAT/LA level, as well as Destinations data for 2022.
On to conference season. With the risk of testing out how sensitive your email systems are about bad language, I think that the announcements coming out of the Tory Party conference at the beginning of the month can be summarised as "Shit that shouldn't have happened", "Shit that has already happened" and "Shit that ain't ever gonna happen":
Moving on to Labour Party, who look almost certain to be taking over at some point next year and who were definitely trying to look like a government-in-waiting at their conference. I'm a bit worried that if and when they do win the next election, that my monthly emails won't be quite as entertaining, but I think we could all do with a bit of a lack of excitement for a while. A lot of Labour's announcements were very thin on detail, but here are some highlights:
The Lib Dems have made some quite ambitious promises on education (it's quite easy to make promises you are unlikely to have to keep):
And in the spirit of inclusion and positivity, I've also looked up the Green Party's education policies. However, my inclusivity does not extend to the Reform Party; I'm not prepared to waste my time reading about what those poisonous toads want to do to our children.
That's it for now, all the best for the rest of the month and I hope you all have a lovely break over half-term.
I hope that you all had a good first week of term and that you still had enough 'sparkle' left in the tank this morning to greet the new week with vim & vigour!
Thank you for all of the positive feedback I've received for the Early Analysis Reports I've been writing for you over the summer, I've still got some left to get done this month but I'll get them out to those of you who are still waiting as soon as possible.
The 2023 KS2 Tables Checking Exercise opens today and will be available until 22nd September for you to apply to have 'recently arrived' children from the performance tables figures. Apparently you will be able to use the same portal to "amend KS1 data, subject to specific criteria" although I'm not sure what that means, exactly!
From Wednesday, you should be able to access the results of any Marking and Clerical Reviews you have submitted, via the Primary Assessment Gateway. If pupil results have been amended as a result of a review, they can be accessed in the ‘View and download KS2 test results’ form in the ‘Available activity’ section. It's important to note, however, that if you have had any successful marking reviews they won't be reflected in the September checking exercise data (but they should be reflected in the Performance Tables Data published in December).
The deadline for downloading your Multiplication Tables Check Results is September 29th. Just to keep you on your toes, this information is accessed via yet another portal, the link provided in the STA newsletter takes you to the DfE Sign-In website, but I haven't got an account which will allow me see this level of detail. I assume that if you have got access, once you're logged in there will be another link to take you to the MTC section.
Statutory guidance for KS2 Assessment Arrangements for 2024 is already available to download, but just a reminder that there isn't going to be an equivalent KS1 version because from 2024 onwards KS1 assessments are now optional. Apparently, the DfE will continue to produce materials for optional tests and more details will be available later in the autumn.
Another website you'll be needing a login for is the Reception Baseline Assessment Portal. Apparently, the NfER will have sent details of your school ID, username and password in August, but if you can't find that information then apparently you can phone the RBA helpline on 0330 088 417. Good luck with that. As usual, the RBA needs to be administered within the first 6 weeks of term.
If you didn't request one of my Early Analysis Reports and need to get hold of national data relating to KS2 then the DfE statistics will be released tomorrow here https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/announcements/key-stage-2-attainment-provisional-2023.
National KS1 and Phonics data will be released on an as-yet unspecified date in "September or October" here https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/announcements/key-stage-1-and-phonics-screening-check-attainment-2023.
FFT have been quick-off-the-blocks this year and there appears to be a full suite of KS2 and KS1 self-evaluation analyses available for at least some of the schools whose data I have been given access to. If you've maintained your subscription then you should be able to log in and see what's available for your school.
On to the "news".
Those of you who read my June and July updates won't have been surprised by the RAAC scandal which finally exploded into full-view of the general public when Gillian Keegan 'lost her bottle' three days before the start of term and decided she couldn't hide the facts any longer. This whole saga reminds me of that long-running storyline in the TV drama Succession, in which every new head of a particular department within the company is informed of a 'dirty little secret' which has to be kept in the dark, and that everything will be OK as long as it stays a secret until the incumbent has moved on to another job and it becomes someone else's problem. Unfortunately for Gill, the skeletons have come falling out of the closet (and the concrete has come falling out of the ceilings) on her watch. Poor thing - and no one has told her she is doing a f*#&%£g good job. As with the TV show of course, the real villians are the people at the top of the corportate ladder, the people who made the decisions to cut-back on the school building and maintenance programmes. I'm finding the basic Maths of this saga quite entertaining: when Sunak was accused of cutting the school re-building programme to 50 schools per year he got really upset and proudly reminded us that he had in fact been responsible for authorising a 'flagship' package of funding which would see 500 schools re-built or renovated. Over a decade. To the casual observer, 50 new schools a year might sound like a lot but we've got more than 22,000 schools in England, so even if you are currently benefitting from a relatively new school building you better look after it really well, coz at that rate it's not going to get replaced for another 440 years!
At the end of last week, MPs approved the appontment of Sir Martyn Oliver as the new head of Ofsted. Apparently, he was one of only two applicants who were deemed to be appropriate candidates for consideration, despite the fact that he (like Spielman) has never been an inspector himself. It sounds like Ofsted are suffering their own recruitment crisis! As head of the Outwood Grange Trust, he obviously has a lot of experience of running schools, but it is interesting to note that he got the job despite the fact that, as recently as January of this year, OGAT was being threatened with the removal of one of its schools by the DfE for high exclusion rates. It will be interesting to see what changes he introduces and how quickly he has to deploy his "flattening the grass" techniques against his critics.
Finally some good news, at least for most of my readers who are based in Leeds and have long-endured a local funding system which means that securing an EHCP is rarer than finding a government minister who hasn't secured a lucrative publicly-funded contract for a close family member. The 'good' news is that schools in 55 other local authority areas will soon be finding it just as difficult to get an EHCP, because the DfE have quietly launched a programme to introduce 20% cuts to the numbers of new EHCPs issued in those areas. It's good to see that the government's commitment to 'levelling the playing field' is as strong as ever, even if it is levelling down, rather than levelling up. If you want to see who the 'lucky 55' are, here's the link.
All the best for the rest of the month and I'll be back in touch if there's any unexpected important news over the next few weeks.
Hello again everyone, I'm back at work and cracking on with my rather long list of data reports that need to be written over the summer.
From what I've seen on social media, it looks like a lot of schools struggled to access the Primary Assessment Gateway again this year, despite the DfE undertaking a review of what went wrong last year and stating that they were confident that the shambles wouldn't be repeated. I hope you didn't have too stressful a time trying to download your results on Tuesday.
I expect you have already looked at the national headline data for KS2, which is available here https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/key-stage-2-attainment-national-headlines/2022-23.
As was the case with the other key stages, it seems that there has been barely any recovery in the KS2 attainment figures: the combined RWM figure is unchanged and the Reading expected standard figure has even fallen by a further 2%pts, despite the pass mark being lowered this year (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2023-scaled-scores-at-key-stage-2). Writing and Maths are the only subjects that have seen an improvement in the 'pass-rate', and only by 2%pts for both.
The other big news this week is that the DfE have announced that they will not be publishing KS2 progress figures for 2024 and 2025. You'll remember that I was hoping that this would be the case as it seemed very misguided to try use EYFSP, Phonics or the Y4MTC as a baseline for calculating progress, and it seems as though they have come to the same conclusion. It's a rare example of common sense prevailing!
However, there's nothing in the announcement to suggest that they will be providing any contextual data alongside the raw attainment figures for 2024 & 2025, which is a worry. Hopefully this will be addressed soon.
All the best for the last week of term, I hope you all have a lovely break over the summer and don't spend the whole time worrying about how you are going to balance your budgets after the latest announcements about "fully funded" pay rises. I enjoyed watching Gillian Keegan squirming through her interview with Naga Munchetty on BBC Breakfast News this morning. It was at 7.35am if you want to fast-forward to the juicy bit. It was pretty obvious that Naga was deeply unimpressed with her lack-of grip on the detail!
Hello again everyone, I've had a few schools ask about this and I should probably have included it in Monday's email - so here's my view on what national data are available for inclusion in your reports to parents at KS1 and KS2:
Hope that helps, and I hope the report-writing process isn't too long & painful!
Hi everyone - I hope that all of the assessment-related admin that you had to do in June went as smoothly as possible and that you are looking forward to the last few weeks of term.
Last month was challenging for me too, as I had to had to take a chunk of time away from work to help nurse my Dad through the last week of his life. He had late stage cancer and wanted to die at home but needed round-the-clock care, so my sister and I both had to go down to Birmingham to help out. My Dad gave me much to be grateful for (not-least my luscious head of hair) so it was good to be able to give something back at the end. His last gift to me is that his funeral has been set for the 11th July so I'm going to miss the "excitement" of KS2 results day and won't be around to provide updates on the results as they emerge, or to empathise with you when the systems crash and the inevitable technical issues arise. I'll try to catch up with events as soon as I get back to Leeds and circulate some provisional headlines later that week.
National School Census data for 2023 was published on June 8th. The big 'story' coming out of this data is the increase in the numbers of children who are now eligible for Free School Meals. The number of children eligible for FSM has grown by over 122,00 and now stands at more than 2 million. Across all phases, 23.8% of pupils are currently eligible for FSM, up from 22.5% in 2021-22. It's a sobering thought that in one of the richest countries in the world, a quarter of its children are living in poverty. The 'true' figure is probably even higher due to the very low income thresholds for FSM eligibility and that some families don't claim; the Child Poverty Action Group estimates that about 29% of children across the UK are living in poverty, with certain groups much more affected than others: 44% of children in lone parent families, 48% of BME children, and 42% of children in larger families. Moreover, they estimate that 71% of the children who live in poverty are in a household in which at least one person is working. On 28th June the results of a survey of public health practitioners was published; 65% of respondents reported children’s health had got worse as a result of hunger and poor nutrition, more than half said they had seen children who were putting on weight slower than expected (53%), noted changes in their behaviour (55%), and were experiencing more frequent mental health problems (51%). Such worrying findings are strengthening calls for the government to introduce Universal Free School Meals across all phases of the school system, but this is something that ministers have so far refused to countenance, and the Labour Party have also recently said that different measures would be more effective in tackling poverty. I'm sure many of you have seen evidence of rising poverty at first hand in your own schools, and from my perspective it seems perverse that our system puts an infinitely larger emphasis on accountability for academic standards than it does on accountability for keeping children fed. And don't even get me started on the paltry increase in FSM funding that's just been announced!
Another notable feature of the Census data is the falling numbers of children in schools across the country: the total headcount across all phases is still growing, but the numbers in the youngest cohorts continues to fall. The largest national cohort is currently in Year 6 (713,000 pupils) and the numbers drop steadily through all of the younger cohorts, with only 632,000 in the current Reception cohort (a decrease of about 12%). The Leeds figures show a 10% decrease in the numbers between Year 6 and Reception.
School Census data relating to Special Educational Needs was published separately to the main data set on June 22nd. These figures reveal a very substantial increase in the numbers of children with identified SEN and in the numbers who have EHCPs. The number of children in England requiring SEN Support has gone up by more than 53,000 since last year, with the percentage figure rising from 12.6% to 13.0% of the school-age population (1.2 million children). The number of children in England with an EHCP has increased by almost 34,000 since last year, with the percentage figure rising from 4.0% to 4.3% of the school-age population (389,000 children). In Leeds there has been an even bigger increase in the SEN support figures (they've gone up from 13.4% to 15.0%) but thanks to the "unique" way in which EHCPs are administered in Leeds (which you all know & love so well) the Leeds EHCP percentage has remained unchanged at just 2.5%.
The DfE continue to publish weekly data relating to school attendance, and although this data collection is still officially voluntary, Nick Gibb recently informed the Education Select Committee that he was considering making it a mandatory requirement for schools to submit this information. The latest figures show that the overall absence rate in primary schools for the year so far is 6.0%, while in secondary schools it is 9.2%. Even more concerning is that the persistent absence rate is 17% for primary schools and 27.5% for secondary schools. These national figures hide the fact persistent absence is a lot higher in many schools which serve very deprived communities.
Looking forward to things that will be happening this month, the obvious 'biggie' is KS2 results day on 11th July -which as I've already mentioned- I will be absent for. The key guidance on what is supposed to be happening and what you need to do can be found here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/key-stage-2-tests-how-to-access-results-and-test-scripts. I really do hope that it all goes a lot more smoothly than last year, but as I've already reported in previous updates, there have been worrying rumours about technical difficulties and issues with marking.
If you haven't had enough of submitting statutory assessment to the LA/DfE and want to do even more, FFT are running their Early Results Service for KS2, KS1, Phonics and EYFSP this year. You can read more details of this service here FFT Primary Early Results Service - FFT. The key benefits of submitting data to this exercise is that it means that you will then be able to access estimates of future attainment for the relevant cohorts based on the assessment data you've submitted and also to compare your results against those of participating schools nationally - all in September. Obviously, those of you that have requested an Early Analysis Report from me will be getting a very detailed analysis of your school's results and how they compare to national (and Leeds) performance. I can't accept any more requests for Early Analysis Reports to be produced over the summer, but if you want one and are able to wait until September, please feel free to get in touch and I'll add you to the list. Schools that have already requested a report have been emailed with information about how we are going to proceed - some of these emails have been sent by my new assistant (my daughter who is back from Uni for the summer and who is doing some work for me) and it is likely that she will be sending more emails out to schools, so it would be great if you could add email@example.com to your contacts list so that she doesn't end up in your 'Spam' folder! It's fantastic having some help over this very busy period - I'm not sure if it will enable me to undertake more work, but it should mean I have fewer late nights, as well as make up for the fact that I'm not as quick at doing all of the data processing as I used to be!
Looking even further into the future, the DfE confirmed on 22nd June that the "necessary legislative amendments have been made" so that KS1 assessments will no longer be a statutory requirement from 2023-24 onwards. They also confirmed that the reception baseline assessment (RBA) will replace the end of KS1 assessments as the baseline for cohort level primary progress measures. This will happen when the first cohort with a statutory RBA reaches the end of key stage 2 (KS2) in 2028. Personally, I'm worried that this will be an absolute sh*t show and might be a major factor in the timing of my early retirement! However, there are other major headaches which are going to have to be faced before then, not least the issue of what we do about KS2 progress measures in 2024 & 2025. The cohorts reaching the end of KS2 over the next two years don't have any official KS1 'prior attainment' data because of the cancellation of statutory assessments during the pandemic; this means that the traditional methodology used for calculating progress at KS2 won't be able to be used. I noted in the May update that the DfE had said they were looking at alternative options, and FFT have released a blogpost which looks at what some of those alternatives might be. TLDR - none of the alternative options look any good and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they don't bother - and go with a 'contextual attainment' approach instead, where individual schools are compared against 'similar schools' using a sensible set of comparative data.
Finally, an update on an issue I mentioned briefly last month. The much-delayed NAO report on the Condition of School Buildings published last Wednesday revealed that an estimated 7000,000 children are being taught in unsafe or ageing schools which require major repairs. It's yet another reminder of the impact of the lack of investment and underfunding which has intensified under the Conservative government's austerity policies since 2010. The report states that more than a third (24,000) of all English school buildings have exceeded their estimated initial design life and that the DfE has identified 572 schools where reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete RAAC might be present, so far confirming it in 65, of which 24 required immediate action. It strikes me that if a school can be rated as 'Inadequate' by OFSTED for weaknesses in its safeguarding admin & procedures, then the imminent propsect of the collapse of a school's roof is at least as big a threat to the safety of its pupils. Shouldn't inspectors be sent into these schools as a matter of urgency so that parents can be made aware of the risks to their children and so that the authorities responsible for the buildings are held accountable??
Hi everyone - hope you managed to get some R&R last week and are looking forward to the final half term of the year.
Blimey, May was a bit 'full-on' wasn't it? It all seemed to be kicking-off inbetween the bank holidays, so strap yourselves in for a whirlwind re-cap of last months' highlights and horrors.
The month started on a quite positive note with the 'anyone-except-the-Tories' coalition doing very well in the local elections despite the government's attempt to suppress the vote by introducing Photo ID requirements. Ironically, it seems as though this underhand tactic has backfired on them and may have stopped some older Tory supporters from voting. This put me in mind of Roger Skaer's now-famous explanation of the correlation between #*!%ing around and finding out.
However, as soon as we'd got over the excitement of the coronation and a 2nd Bank Holiday in the space of a week, we were straight into KS2 SATs and the 'horror' of this year's Reading test. I'm sure you'll all be aware of the press coverage around the difficulty of this year's paper and the stories of children being left in tears. Talking to a few head teachers in the days following the test I got mixed feedback, so I decided to have a go at doing it myself when the paper was published on the 18th. The word-count was obviously really high, but what I was most shocked by was the number of questions that children were then expected to answer, with each one requiring you to go back to the text, find the relevant paragraph and work out the answer; mostly for just one mark. I think I calculated that it would take the 'average' 11 year old about 35 minutes just to read all of 3 of the texts, leaving 25 minutes to answer 42 questions; which works out at 35 seconds per question (not leaving any time for checking etc). The test seemed to be intentionally designed so that only the most-able would be able to finish it; the obvious problem with this is that many (most?) schools coach their children to try to complete the test in order to pick up as many points as possible, leading many children to feel as though they've 'failed' if they don't get through it all. Another aspect of the test I found problematic was the subject matter, which seemed once-again to provide an advantage to children who have benefitted from privileged life-experiences such as camping trips and foreign holidays. I suppose you could use this as a justification for spending all of next year's Pupil Premium grant on ensuring that your most-needy children get to go on residentials and trips so that they gain the 'cultural capital' they clearly need in order to be able to engage with the SATS papers!
The headlines following the test mainly focussed on how upset 'bright' children who were expecting to do well were made to feel; I found this a little depressing because we don't get the same complaints every year when 1 in every 4 children are effectively labelled as failures by being told they haven't met 'the expected standard'. This is a sentiment which was very well articulated by a Yorkshire headteacher in a recent blog-post. Another really good discussion of the difficulties and pitfalls associated with testing came from Daisy Christodoulou whose paper "Three Suggestions for SATs reform" is full of insight and good ideas; not least of which is that we should get rid of the "working towards/expected standard/higher standard" labels and just report the scaled score results. It's always struck me as very problematic that a child who gets a score of 99 is told that they haven't met the expected standard while children who who score 100 or 109 are both labelled as having achieved the same standard.
Of course, the DfE responded to all the criticisim in their customarily sensitive manner, stating that the SATs were 'meant to be challenging' and that "SATs play a key role in helping to identify pupils’ strengths or where they may have fallen behind as they head to secondary school" which -as we all know- is complete guff. Nick Gibb promised to take a look at the test and undertake a review but I'm not expecting anything to come of it.
Following hot on the heals of the headlines about the tests themselves were are series of worrying if not unexpected stories about problems with the marking of the papers, including CAPITA having to delay the start of marking by a week due to technical difficulties, markers being locked out of the system when it did finally get launched, and markers complaining about rates of pay and workload expectations. It seems that not many lessons have been learned as a result of last year's chaos and it doesn't bode well for the number of re-marks that will be required and the possibility of the repeat of problems with lost papers etc.
Given all of the negative headlines around SATs, the release of the latest PIRLS international Reading league tables must have come as a very welcome relief to Nick Gibb - and boy - he really made the most of it! He celebrated England's 4th place position in the rankings with a wonderfully self-congratulatory article in the Daily Torygraph, which reads as if it is Nick himself who has spent the last 10 years delivering daily phonics sessions in KS1. I've always been very sceptical about the reliability of any international education comparative measures, especially when they are used by politicians to champion (or attack) a specific strategy or policy, and I was glad to see that some commentators were able to flag-up a range of problems with this latest set of data. Prof. Christian Bokhove raised a number of issues, including the fact that we actuallly saw the biggest improvement in our PIRLS rankings between 2006-2011 following reforms introduced by the last Labour government. John Cosgrove noted that a number of countries who previously outperformed us didn't take part in 2021, and that English pupils didn't even take the PIRLS tests until 2022, while most other contries took them in 2021 during the height of the pandemic. Finally, Adrian Bethune rily noted that if Gibb was going to take credit for Phonics and Reading results then perhaps he should also take 'credit' for all of the other things that have happened on his government's watch, such as an extra half a million children living in poverty, 1.5 million more food banks than in 2010, the UK having the lowest levels of children's well-being in Europe, and a crippling teacher recruitment crisis.
Any PIRLS-induced positivity at DfE headquarters was probably very swiftly dampened by leaking of the news on 21st May that the Independent Pay Review Body have recommended a 6.5% pay-rise for teachers in 2023/24. This gives them a really big problem because they have previously used the PRB as a shield to refuse pay-rise demands; they are now either going to have to accept the recommendation and agree an in increase which is higher than the one they could have probably negotiated with the Unions if they'd actually tried, or completely row back on their previous position and undermine the system of independent pay reviews.
And yet another hand-grenade was lobbed into Nick Gibb's office on the 23rd May when an Opposition Debate in the House of Commons forced him to commit to publishing data which will reveal just how many schools are in such a poor condition that they are in danger of collapse. Given how hard they tried to avoid publishing this information, it's likely to not make happy reading and the extent of the backlog of essential maitenance work will probably mean that this will be a problem that will have to be dealt with by future governments, for may years to come.
Given how well it's all going for the government on the education-front, it's no surprise to see that there has been a series of recent resignations of key advisers, who are probably keen to escape the sinking ship as swiftly as possible. However, one person going in the opposite direction and re-joining the DfE is Will Bickford Smith who is returning to the department after only a few months away at a University. I don't know much about this person, other than that he is the founder of 'Conservative Teachers' (I wonder what their membership figures are like??) and that he looks like Michael Gove's baby brother. We'll have to keep an eye on him to see what wonderful ideas he comes up with over the next few months.
Thank goodness that's all over - and I didn't even get to mention Katharine Birbalsingh's completely unhinged speech at the NAT-C conference!
So what's happening in June? well it's mainly all about submitting data:
We've already had the announcement of the KS1 raw score to Scaled Score conversions on 1st Jine, which are almost the same as last year, so nothing to get too excited about. There was some confusion caused a couple of weeks ago when the STA newsletter stated that the KS2 scaled score conversions would be published on 22nd May but that was just (another) error and they won't actually come out until July, as is usually the case.
Once we've got through all of that gubbins it'll be time for me roll-up my sleeves and spend July and August writing reports based on all of the data that has been generated. I've already had more than enough report-requests to keep me busy all summer; but if you haven't got round to requesting one yet and would like one, just let me know and I'll try to get it done for you asap in September. I'll be sending another email out to everyone who is already on the list later today with more information.
Hello everyone - I hope you managed to enjoy a bit of a break over the bank holiday weekend and that today is going as smoothly as possible; whether you are fully open, partially open or fully closed to pupils.
From a 'data' perspective, we're getting very close to the sharp-end of the year. I'm sure all of your Year 6 pupils will be spending the coronation weekend patriotically preparing for their SATs and that they will all be 100% fresh and ready to do their best next Tuesday morning .
Then it's on to KS1 tests & assessments, Phonics Screening Check and the Multiplication Tables Check. I'm sure you've got all of the relevant dates in your diaries, but if you want to double check anything you should be able to get what you need from here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/primary-assessments-future-dates
Once all of the tests and assessments have been completed, test papers have been returned for marking and assessment data has been submitted, we can start to look forward to the highlight of everyone's year: logging into the Primary Assessment Gateway (PAG) to download the KS2 results - and maybe even having the pleasure of needing to phone the helpline! Just a reminder that the big day is happening a week later than usual this year on Tuesday 11th July.
To say that this process did not go entirely smoothly last year is something of an understatement, and the Standards & Testing Agency have recently published a 'Lessons Learnt' Report which looks at what went wrong in 2022 and what they are doing to make sure these problems don't recur in 2023. Within this report there are some pretty shameful admissions of failure, including:
In response to the severe issues encountered last year, STA say that they have:
They also state that "some stakeholders raised concerns that modified scripts may have been more likely to be missing and ultimately lost. Our investigations did not find this to be the case. While around 1,000 scripts on coloured paper were delayed during the scanning process, these scripts were not missing, and the results were returned to schools shortly after the due date. There is no evidence beyond this that modified scripts were more likely to be lost than other scripts."
Let's hope for everyone's sake that the whole process goes a lot more smoothly this year!
Once we get past the hurdle of collecting/marking/reporting test and assessment results, the focus will move onto how the data are interpreted in 2023. For KS2 there's no reason why this should be done any differently to how it wasvt. Gggygvtyg t done in 2022, with progress calculated from KS1 baseline assessment data. For KS1 we do have a problem insofar as there's no EYFSP data for this cohort which was in Reception in 2020-21; the DfE don't publish any official KS1 progress measures, but FFT won't be able to produce their usual KS1 progress measures this year (unless schools submitted data voluntarily).
Looking further ahead to 2024 and 2025, the DfE have recently updated their Primary Accountability document with the following potentially worrying statement:
"As primary tests and assessments were cancelled in academic years 2019/20 and 2020/21 due to COVID-19 disruption, there will be gaps in the prior attainment data available to calculate primary progress measures in future years. This will affect primary progress measures when the relevant cohorts reach the end of KS2 in 2023/24 and 2024/25.
We will be doing further analytical work and testing as we explore whether there are alternative options for producing primary progress measures in the affected years, and will announce our approach in due course."
This suggests that the DfE could try to calculate KS2 progress using a different baseline, and the only options I can think of are EYFS or even Phonics. I really hope they don't bother because I fear these measures would -at best- be totally unreliable and ignored. At worst, they could could cause chaos if they are used to formally judge school performance. Again, let's hope common sense prevails and that they decide to just report attainment figures, preferably presented alongside some intelligent 'contextual data'. They could, for example produce a series of measures which compare each school's attainment against that of 'similar schools' nationally. If they get this right, it could (in my view) be a much better measure of performance than the current very-flawed 'progress' methodology. FFT's 'School's Like Yours' tool, which is currently only available for secondary schools, could be used as template for this approach.
Finally, if you are losing sleep over how you are going to balance your budget if the government pushes through its unfunded pay deal, fear not! Keep an eye in the post for a package from the DfE which will officially contain some commemorative wildflower seeds for you to plant with your children to celebrate the coronation. However, there's a rumour going round that these packets actually contain 'magic beans' which will grow into your very own money-tree!
I know that February is the shortest month, but it always seems to come-and-go in the blink of an eye, especially after January - which I am convinced has at least 50 days in it, despite what the calendar says. So it's March already, which means that it's only a few weeks until Easter - yay!
I'm sure that many of you will have completely lost interest in ASP by now, but some of you may have noticed that although the KS2 & KS1 data was uploaded in December and January it did not include any figures relating to the attainment and progress of Disadvantaged children. The Release Timetable stated that this information would be published in February, and sure enough it was uploaded yesterday - on the last day of the month. However, if you do decide that it is worth having a look at your Disadvantaged data in ASP you need to be mindful of the sneaky and misleading way they present the information: it is probably the thing that causes the most confusion and annoyance in the whole system.
To show the data for pupil groups you can click on the 'explore data in detail' links which are below most of the headline tables and charts (example below) or you can click on the subject links in the left-hand menus. Once you've found the pupil group information you should now see that data are presented for 'Disadvantaged' and 'Other' children, with 'national' comparator data. However, the default national figures shown are not shown for Disadvantaged children, but for Other children (in both rows)! This is why, in the example above, the percentage of children achieving the expected standard is shown as 80% in both of the rows for Disadvantaged and Other children nationally. In order to show a 'like-for-like' comparison which does show the actual national figures for Disadvantaged children you need to click on the Switch Comparator button. This will change the national data to show the figures for Disadvantaged and Other groups. In this example, the national Disadvantaged expected standard figure is now shown as 62%. The arrival of the Disadvantaged data in ASP now also means that the 'filter' tool actually works (it didn't previously). So you can now use it, for example, to only show the data for Disadvantaged children, grouped by gender, SEN status etc etc. I'd like to be able to tell you that ASP is now fully updated for the year, but sadly that's still not the case. The data is still all 'provisional' and will supposedly be updated with 'final' data in March or April. So if you have, for example, applied to have children who are 'recently arrived form overseas' removed from your KS2 figures, this will not be reflected in ASP until the 'final' data is published.
OK, on to possibly more interesting topics.
The issue of Pupil Absence is continuing to develop into one of the biggest concerns currently facing schools and a Parliamentary Enguiry into persistent absence has just been launched . If you want to access comparative data to benchmark your own school data here's another reminder that there is now a dedicated DfE pupil attendance website that is updated every couple of weeks with data from 'participating schools'. Alternatively, and possibly preferrably, if you subscribe to FFTAspire you can access national and regional benchmark attendance data in their Attendance Tracker. The potential advanatage of the FFT data is that it is automatically extracted from the MIS of all participating schools every week, rather than relying on schools to manually upload data to the DfE system. I also think it's easier to navigate the FFT system than the DfE website.
The latest FFT national primary attendance figure (for the week ending 24th Feb) was 94.8% and for Yorkshire & Humberside it was slightly higher at 95.2%. The year-to-date figures were 93.6% for England and 93.8% for Y&H. Clearly, many schools are fighting an ongoing post-pandemic battle to get some children (or their parents?) back into good attendance habits and this is reflected in the Persistent Absence figures, which are currently running at 19.5% in the primary phase according to the DfE or 21% if you look at FFTAspire.
A short article on the main attendance-related issues facing schools was published in Schools Week a couple of days ago and FFTEducationDataLab have produced a couple of blogs on absence rates in the Spring Term and specifically on Persistent Absence, which highlights the fact that at primary phase it is the youngest year groups (Reception - Y2) that have the highest levels of persistent absence. In contrast, in the secondary phase it is the older year groups (Y9-Y11) that have the highest levels of persistent absence. The article also shows that (unsurprisingly) Disadvantaged children have much higher rates of persistent absence than 'Other' children, and it also looks at the importance of distinguishing between children who are identified as persistently absent because of 1 lengthy period of absence as opposed to those who have numerous periods of absence (the latter are the ones to be more concerned about because they are more likely to continue to be persistently absent in the future).
A lot of schools use commercially available Standardised Tests as part of their regular approach to tracking pupils learning and progress, and there is a school of thought that argues these tests remove a lot of the subjectivity of teacher assessments and provide a more accurate and consistent form of assessment. However, it's important to remember that they aren't a 'magic bullet', and like everything else, can be affected by a myriad of factors such as when they were administered, how they were administered and how well the tests are aligned to the curriculum that is being taught.
Another recently published study by EducationDataLab looks at the correlations of standardised tests over time, using data entered into the FFTAspire tracking system by about 700 primary schools. It's quite a technical report, but the gist of it is that although results in termly standardised tests are generally strongly correlated from term to term, there is still a fair amount of variation in pupils’ results, with the majority of pupils seeing their results changing by 5 or more standardised score points. This raises important questions about how to interpret these test results at an individual pupil level: if a child's score changes noticeably from one test to another, does this reflect a genuine change in attainment, or is it just 'natural' variation or something else? I don't think the authors are arguing that these tests shouldn't be used, but it does provide a useful reminder that no single method of assessment is fool proof and that the best approach is to use a range of different assessment methodologies in order to build up a comprehensive picture of children's attainment and progress over time.
HOWEVER - all of this assessment takes time and as we all know, the pig doesn't get any fatter from constant weighing! So, we need to ensure that assessment remains streamlined and manageable. Even our Education Secretary Gillian Keegan seems to agree (although her new-found enthusiasm for cutting teacher workload seems to be motivated by a half-hearted attempt at preventing further strike action). As ever, Teacher Tapp is keeping its finger on the pulse of staffroom opinion and they've just run a survey asking which unproductive tasks generate the most work. 'Data' does figure highly in the frustrations of classroom teachers, but interestingly, the thing that wastes the most time for primary teachers is unproductive marking! For senior leaders it's all about unproductive admin, meetings and paperwork for OFSTED, governors, the DfE, the LA , the MAT etc etc etc. It's almost as if the machinery of accountability (which has been created in order to raise standards) is actually getting in the way of the productive work that should actually help to raise standards! Who'd have thunk it???
So, the long wait has finally come to an end - the Analyse School Performance system has finally been updated with 2022 data for KS1 and KS2. If any of you are still interested in looking at it, I've put some instructions together for downloading the main tables and charts in pdf format. You can find them at the bottom of this email.
A much more eagerly awaited data release (at least for nerds like me) that has happened recently is the first big batch of detailed 2021 National Census data. ONS have been drip-feeding us with little snippets and headlines for a while now, but this is the first big release of data that can be viewed at a small-area level. If you've got a bit of spare time (see - I can still do satire!) this interactive map tool https://www.ons.gov.uk/census/maps provides a really easy way of visualising and investigating the data down to a neighbourhood level.
Now that the census data has been released it means that we can do a major update and refresh of the 'Beyond The School Gates' Demography Reports that we produce for schools. At the moment, a lot of the information in these reports is based on data that was collected in 2019 or even 2011, so it will be really useful to be able to refresh them with much more recent data. It will take us a while to get our heads around all of the new data but once we have re-built the reporting model I'll be encouraging as many of you as possible to commission a new report for your school.
The people at FFT have also been busy over the last few months and have just launched a new-look 'next generation' FFTAspire. All of the old features of the system still seem to be there, but they've been given a make-over and the user interface is quite different. There are also some new features such as a Reading Assessment Programme which is included as part of the standard subscription and the target setting module appears to have had a fundamental re-design. If you'd like to spend some time looking around the system with some support from me, please feel free to get in touch to book a session.
Last Friday the online education magazine SchoolsWeek ran a provocative headline claiming that they had uncovered the 'broken link between exam results and ofsted ratings'. I'm normally a bit of a fan of SchoolsWeek (mainly because they don't have a paywall, unlike the TES) but this piece of 'research' appears to be making big claims based on pretty thin evidence. For a start, they've only looked at secondary schools, and even more crucially, the weaker correlation between Progress 8 scores and Ofsted ratings that they are reporting on is based on inspections that happened during the 2021-22 academic year (when the most recent data inspectors had available to them was from 2019). So it's probably no surprise that there might have been differences between old performance data and what inspectors were seeing when they visited some schools. At the end of the article they also admit that FFT have done their own analysis of inspections that happened this autumn term and they've found that the correlation has returned to pre-pandemic levels and that academic outcomes and OFSTED judgements were “related, but not strongly related”. Which is probably as it should be!
Today, SchoolsWeek have published an even more sensational piece of research that claims "female inspectors hand out harsher grades" for primary schools than their male colleagues. I've not had time to look at this in detail but it does seem to be plausible that since the new inspection framework is less data-driven and arguably more 'subjective', that it could lead to a situation where the characteristics of the inspectors themselves can have an influence on the judgements that are made.
This time of year seems to be when a lot of academic researchers publish the findings of the studies they've been undertaking. Here's a couple that have caught my eye over the last few weeks, both of which are longitudinal studies relating to educational outcomes and adult earnings:
So if you ever have cause to doubt the value of your life's-work (or have to argue its value with someone else) we've now got more evidence to show that it's all worthwhile (so long as your only measure of 'success' is how much money someone earns, of course).
As some of you will already be aware, the ongoing and unexplained delays in the release of primary-phase performance data in the Analysing School Performance system are causing some frustration. You'll remember that the OFSTED IDSRs were published back in October, and that the accompanying data was originally scheduled to be released at about the same time. However, about a month ago the schedule was changed to 'November' and now it has been changed to 'December'. Unfortunately, this means that I'm still unable to write the 'IDSR analysis reports' that many of you have requested this year. Once I've finished writing this email I will get in touch with those of you that have requested a report to discuss our options.
Thankfully, this unexpected gap in my work schedule has been filled by several requests from 'new' schools asking me to produce analysis reports based on the data that was published in Perspective Lite back in July (i.e. at least 5 months before the DfE have managed to publish their own data!). If you're reading this update for the first time - welcome! These emails are sent to my valued customers in Leeds at the start of every month and summarise all of the exciting news that the world of education data has to offer - I hope you enjoy them.
I'm sure that many of you will have been eagerly awaiting the data release relating to the Year 4 Multiplication Tables Check, which was published only a week late on 24th November and can be found here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/multiplication-tables-check-attainment/2021-22. This release contains national and regional level data, some of which is broken down by pupil characteristics; school level data is not being published at all and isn't even included in the OFSTED IDSRs or ASP, so at the moment you will have to make your own comparisons of your school's data against these national and local benchmarks. School's Week and the TES have both published articles which summarise the main headlines and are worth a read. Key points include:
I was hoping that some clever whizz-kid would quickly produce a spreadsheet that allows a school to enter their own data and then automatically generates a load of pretty charts and tables showing how they compare against national, but I haven't spotted one yet. If they do I'll let you know how to get hold of it - and if nothing appears I might have a go myself if there's sufficient demand.
Also published on 24th November was the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile 2022 results, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/early-years-foundation-stage-profile-results-2021-to-2022. If you have commissioned one of my reports or have looked in Perspective Lite yourself, this won't tell you much you don't already know, but it does provide official confirmation that attainment at the foundation stage has been severely impacted by the pandemic:
These last two bullet points underline the strong themes coming out of all of the primary-phase data this year, that White British children from Disadvantaged backgrounds have been much more affected by the disruptions to school-based learning caused by the pandemic.
The biggest shock in the batch of data that was released on 24th November was that the latest national exclusions data was published early!! The figure relate to the autumn term 2021-22 and can be found here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/permanent-and-fixed-period-exclusions-in-england/2021-22-autumn-term . They reveal that - probably unsurprisngly - fixed term exclusions have increased following a lull during the pandemic and reached the highest level since 'current' records began in 2016. (I'm not sure why their records only go back to 2016, I distinctly remember having to produce exclusions statistics when I was a young and enthusiastic number-cruncher back in the 1990s). Headlines include:
The lastest national attendance data was also published on 24th November and can be found here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/pupil-attendance-in-schools. It confirms that absence rates are still relatively high compared to pre-pandemic. So far this academic year:
Just a reminder that if you want to access a whole host of attendance analysis for your school, you can get it by logging in to FFTAspire - assuming you have subscribed this year. This system will extract absence data automatcially from your MIS and compare it against aggregated data obtained from all other subscribing schools. Great for governors and saves you loads of time doing it yourself!
FFT also released the KS2 Self-Evaluation dashboards early in November. Again, they are a useful starting point for governors to look at how your data compares to national. If you want me to spend some time discussing these with you and/or your governors I am available for bookings in the Spring Term!
The data release schedule looks a bit quiter in December so I'm hoping that DfE data monkeys will finally be able to prioritise the ASP update! The only publication of real interest this month should be the KS2 Revised data for 2022 which is scheduled for release on 15th December. I'm assuming that this means you will also receive (on or before that date) confirmation of whether any applications for removing pupils from the official data have been succesful. It's not as important as usual, because the performance tables won't be published this year, but it's always good to have your figures looking as high as possible!
Finally, as the festive season gets into full swing, I'd like to wish you all the best in your preparations for the Christmas productions which I'm sure you will be working tirelessly to ensure are a glittering success for your children, parents (and staff!). I know that for some of you, this period can be even more stressful than an OFSTED inspection. I've decided to put on my own festive show this year; it's an adaptation of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" but I've tweaked the title to "Waiting for the DfE to publish some blummin data in ASP". For those of you familiar with the original script, I'm going to play both of the main parts, and the dialogue will include endless circular conversations between me and myself on the subject of the DfE data release schedule, which mysteriously keeps changing. Without explanation. And never actually arrives. I've written to Nick Gibb and asked him to play the part of the bully Pozzo who turns up unexpectedly after a long absence, and I've told him that I'm sure I will be able to find a local headteacher who is willing to take on the role of 'Lucky' (Pozzo's slave) who is frequently punished for not having a sufficiently knowledge-rich and evidence-based curriculum.
Tickets will go on sale next week and will be charged against a transparent formula based on the square root of your budget deficit.
So, another month and another round of ministerial appointments to ponder - I wonder what Ofsted would make of a school that had 6 headteachers in 14 months?
What has (or hasn't) been happening in the world of 'data':
Things to look out for in November:
Hopefully we'll get through this month without any more resignations or sackings at the DfE - somebody needs to stay in post long enough to start sorting out the mess. I am, however, keeping my fingers crossed that we will have another new Home Secretary very soon!
The fact that the IDSRs were published yesterday may have escaped your attention - it's not that much else is happening at the moment! It's almost as if OFSTED are doing their best to make sure no one notices at all, there has been no official announcement on their website or through any other official communication channels as far as I am aware.
The IDSRs themselves are almost as inconspicuous and underwhelming as the publicity surrounding them: as with 2019 they are just a series of bland statements, the majority of which are likely to state "there is nothing to highlight..."
If you are keen to have a look at your IDSR you can view it via the ASP module in the DfE Sign-In portal https://services.signin.education.gov.uk/ although they haven't made that very easy either...
HOWEVER - you may want to delay going through this rigmarole for a while, at least until the DfE get round to updating the ASP system with 2022 data! This usually happens before the IDSRs are released but for some reason that I don't understand it's the other way around this time. With only the IDSR, all you will be told (for example) is that "There is nothing to highlight for key stage 2 progress in reading in 2022" without any actual data to reference that statement against. Hopefully the ASP system will also be updated very soon - I will let you know as soon as I know.
It's October, which means that the Tables Checking Exercise has now *finally* closed. I know that many of you struggled to get on to the website and I suspect that some of you never managed to get on at all depsite many wasted hours of trying. If you do know or suspect that the provisional data in the Tables Checking Exercise isn't accurate and that you weren't able to get into the system to change it I would definitely keep a record of what the correct information should be. If you've commissioned an analysis report from me I'm happy to update it to reflect the accurate information.
Provisional KS2 data is due to be published in the Analyse School Performance application this month (no specific date has been provided) and OFSTED have also said they will release their Inspection Data Summary Reports (IDSR) this month too. Both of these publications will use provisional data, so don't expect any changes that you did manage to make on the Tables Checking Website to be reflected yet. This will have to wait until at least December.
Apparently there are going to be a couple of notable omissions of data from the Primary IDSRs and ASP:
The IDSR will include information on exclusions (albeit only up to 2020-21) and the DfE have released updated statutory guidance on governors' and leaders' accountability role in this area.
There's a few statistical releases coming up that might be of interest:
This one isn't related to attainment data but I do think it's important and I haven't seen it publicised anyhwere else so I thought I'd flag it up here. Apparently, schools will be asked for the first time in the January 2023 census to identify children who are young carers. This group of children are one of the most challenged and vulnerable we have, so personally I welcome this as a positive step forward. It will however be another potentially tricky task for your staff, so you might need to give some thought about how to go about ensuring you have this information.
I've started to have a closer look at the intricacies and quirks of the KS2 progress data. I haven't yet come to any firm conclusions about how robust it is or isn't but I have spotted some quirks and anomalies:
Onto the wider world (if you can bear to read about it). Since my last update, we have been treated to a whole new ministerial team at the DfE:
And finally, although KamiKwazi and ThickLizzie have announced their first U-turn this morning in relation to the abolition of the 45p income tax bracket, but I doubt we will see them doing a U-turn any time soon on the announcement that school budgets will be cut following the change to the NI rules. In fact, we will probably be seeing plenty more public spending cuts being announced over the next few weeks and months. All we can do is hope that these jokers will be out of office before they do much more irriversible damage.
This is a very quick addional update to confirm a few things that we were waiting for when I sent the original email at the end of last week
You should have received an email from the DfE alerting you to the fact that the KS2 Tables Checking Exercise is now open until Friday 16th September. Although there won't be any official Perfornace Tables this year, the data will still be shared with Ofsted et al so it's worth making sure it is correct. Once you log into this website you should be able to submit information about removals etc and correct any wrong information that you see. If it's the same as in previous years, you should also be able to download your progress figures. For those of you that have already received an analysis report from me, it would be great if you could compare the unofficial progress figures I've used with the official DFE figures and let me know if they are massively different!
The Primary Accountability technical documents were published yesterday and confirm that the progress methodology has remained as close to previous years as was possible, given the change in the KS1 'baseline' measures. The assessment categories have been assigned point scores as follows:
A child's KS1 'average point score' is calculated by averaging the Reading and Writing point scores, and then averaging that result with the Maths point score (i.e. Maths is double-weighted). There are 19 different Prior Attainment Groups (PAGs) and the average scaled score of all the children in each PAG will be used as the yardstick to measure each individual child's outcome. So for example the average scaled score in Reading for PAG 16 (which includes all children with a KS1 APS of 8) is 105.5, so if a child in this PAG scored 107 in the Reading test they will get a progress score of +1.5. The BIG problem is that this single PAG will include all children who achieved the expected standard in all subjects, which I suspect could be more than a third of the national cohort! More on this as I get my ahead around the implications.
Finally the provisional KS2 DfE statistical release has just been published - it looks as though all the attainment figures in Perspective Lite were pretty much spot on, so no need to spend a lot of time looking at that.
I can't help thinking that for many of you, your top priorities this year will be centered around working out whether it's going to be possible to balance your budgets, keep your staff employed, your buildings warm and your children fed - and that conversations about performance data will have to take a back-seat. I'll still carry on doing what I do, but I completely understand if you are less able to engage this year.
I've spent most of the summer writing data analysis reports; most of the schools that have requested a report have already received theirs, but I've still got several to get done before the end of this month, which I will send out as soon as I possibly can.
Whilst writing these reports, one key recurring theme has been evident in many schools’ figures: that the attainment of one specific pupil group (Disadvantaged White British children) appears to have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. This group already had some of the poorest educational outcomes but the gaps between them and other pupils appear to have grown over the last two years, as borne out by the national figures. For example:
Clearly, this group is not equally distributed across schools and regions, and therefore different schools and areas will be disproportionately impacted. If your school serves a predominantly deprived White British community it is likely that your overall results will have been particularly affected by this phenomenon, and even if your setting has a more diverse intake you may notice that the in-school gaps are more obvious than before. (A reminder: please don't share these figures on social media or websites as they have been derived from data in Perspective Lite and the powers-that-be get annoyed about public sharing).
On the subject of Perspective Lite, the LA emailed all primary schools a couple of days ago, alerting us to an issue with the Phonics data - specifically the Y2 're-take' figures. It appears that a problem with the automated system for extracting data from schools' MIS has meant that the autumn data has been extracted instead of the summer data. The email says that this issue has affected 'some schools' but if the problem is systemic I wouldn't be surprised if it affects most or all schools, so I would also encourage you to check your Year 2 Phonics results in the Pupil Results Report in Perspective Lite. If this is incorrect, please advise firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 9th September 2022. If you are a school that has commissioned an analysis report from me this year and you do find a problem, please let me know so that I can update the Phonics section of your report once the issue is resolved.
Perspective Lite has provided unofficial KS2 progress measures, which I have used in my reports with a cautionary note on their reliability. As far as I am aware, these are the best available progress measures at the moment, in the absence of anything from the DfE or FFTAspire as yet. In a 'normal' year, the DfE would ususally be sending out 'Tables Checking' information out to all primary schools (which would include progress figures) but as far as I am aware this hasn't happened yet and may not happen at all because Performance Tables aren't being published this year. If you do receive a communication from the DfE with any attainment or progress information please let me know.
Also 'missing in action' so far is the DfE's update to its 'Primary Accountability' technical document, which should provide details of how they have calculated the progress measures this year. This document is eagerly awaited by people like me because it should reveal the mysteries around how they will address the inherent problems in calculating reliable progress measures this year, now that we don't have the old point scores at KS1 to use as a baseline. If and when this does appear, expect to hear more on this issue over the course of the year. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that it will be released no later than the 6th of September, which is when the detailed Key Stage 2 national data should be published.
One data release that got a bit lost at the end of the year was Pupil Premium Allocations for 2022-23. If you are interested you can download a spreadsheet with the allocations for every school in the country, from here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1084221/PP_allocations_2022_to_2023_Q1_June.ods
Upcoming data releases include:
Finally, I'd like to do a little advert for a collaboration I'm involved in with Mark Noblet and a few other independently-minded types, offering a range of support to schools. The offer includes Coaching, support for Leadership, Governance, Data Analysis, Writing, SEND & SENCO, and EYFS. I've attached the Offer Pack to this email. My direct relationship with all of my existing customers won't change; this is just about a group of professionals helping each other to make contact with new schools. If any of the wider services outlined in the pack are of interest please do get in touch with Mark, but please continue to contact me directly for support on data and SEF related matters.
That's probably enough for now. Apologies to those of you who only read these updates for the 'ranty bits' - I'm sure I'll be provided with plenty of material once our new prime minister is in place and we get our 4th Education Secretary in 12 months. Here's a 'quickie' - if you put "Mary Elizabeth Truss" (her full name) into an angram generator these are some of the suggestions (with added punctuation):
I've had some queries about whether the Question Level Analysis functionality for KS2 tests will be available in ASP this year: according to the DfE's release timetable, this will be available some time in July 2022.
There was a bit of a kerfuffle last week when someone noticed that the KS1 'pass mark' in the reading and maths tests had been raised, but this turned out to be a red-herring; it was just a normal consequence of the tests being slightly easier this year. This adjustment should mean that the year-on-year standards are maintained at their usual level.
At the beginning of this week OFSTED announced that they would be removing Early Years Foundation Stage data from the IDSR, in light of the reforms to the Early Years Foundation Stage. There will also be no Foundation Stage data in ASP this year.
Thank you to those schools that have so far requested an Early Analysis report, I've now had more than enough requests to keep me busy over the summer. If you haven't yet requested a report but want one please get in touch, but I'm afraid that any new requests from schools will have to wait until September for me to write their report.
If you aren't requesting a report from me but want to get some headline information about your results compared to national, you could of course log into Perspective Lite yourself, or make use of the FFT Early Results Service, which has already opened for KS1, and which will open for KS2 soon. Obviously, these services are only open to schools that have subscribed to them for 2022-23.
As mentioned at the start of the email, the DfE have just published data relating to the January 2022 school census. Here's a few headlines:
And finally, you'd be disappointed if I didn't mention the latest political goings-on. Obviously, I would have liked to have seen the back of the blond buffoon this week, but it's surely only a matter of time before his regime of misrule comes to an end. My current bet is that it will 'all be over by Christmas' for Johnson, but I am aware that this phrase has been used naively before. While Johnson remains in office, we can be pretty sure that this government will continue to lurch from one crisis and controversy to another, incapable of addressing any of the serious issues that need to be tackled. This means we will probably see more delays in the implementation of existing policies and strategies, such as the recent announcement that the national funding formula won't now be fully implemented until at least 2027, and a complete inability to tackle problems such as the impending crisis facing Free School Meals. Meanwhile, the DfE continues to tie itself and schools in knots in order to find a way to hit its targets for the tutoring programme, and their latest plan for 'coasting schools' is being criticised by pretty much everyone that has the energy to read it. I'm afraid that we are probably going to have to put up with this kind of thing until some adults are actually allowed to start running the country.
As is often the case, this time of year is fairly quiet in terms of data 'news' because everyone is busy preparing to administer the statutory tests and assessments. However, just when I thought I wouldn't have anything to talk about in this month's update, Mr Zahawi has come to my rescue by announcing a brand-new addition to the performance table data which will be published in the autumn term. Huzzah!
Yesterday, you should have received an email from our beloved SoS providing details of the plan to publish data relating to individual schools' use of National Tutoring Programme funding. Apart from the fact that the timing of this announcement contravenes the DfE's staff well-being charter (which states that governmental publications relating to schools will only be published during working hours), this plan appears to be a pretty shameless attempt to shift the blame for the failure of the programme onto schools. If you were lucky enough to actually have the day-off yesterday and missed the reaction to this announcement, you can catch up with it all in articles in TES, SchoolsWeek and The Mirror. The announcement also includes the threat to share this information with Ofsted, but I've not seen any response to this from Ofsted themselves and it will be interesting to see whether this new data will be included in the IDSR, the template for which will probably have already been agreed and approved. There could therefore be systemic challenges to including it in the official accountability data used to inform inspections. As ever, we can't be sure whether this announcement will actually become a reality; it's a long time until autumn and it may well turn out to be another distraction that never sees the light of day.
I'm really pleased to have contributed a little bit of the content for, and got a mention in, Parklands A school built on love By: Chris Dyson , which has just been published and is racing up the 'Best Sellers' charts! Make sure you get your copy ordered while stocks last!
Nadim Zahawi is clearly convinced that the pandemic is over, because while many of you have been desperately trying to find enough teachers to cover your classes, the DfE have spent the last week or so publishing a slew of papers, reports and announcements - all as if the situation in schools is completely back to normal.
The 'biggy' was supposed to be the Schools White Paper whose strap-line proudly declares that it will deliver "Opportunity for all: strong schools with great teachers for your child". However, the more you dig into the detail, the more it becomes apparent that it is an underwhelming victory of style over substance, which puts me in mind of the old American expression: 'you can put lipstick on a pig and call it a lady, but it's still a pig'. A lot has already been written about the White Paper so I won't dwell on it too much, but here's a link to a good summary article from SchoolsWeek.
One of the announcements in the White Paper that attracted the most attention was the implausibly ambitious target for 90 per cent of children by 2030 leaving primary school with the expected standard in reading, writing and maths. This had already been announced a month earlier in the Levelling Up White Paper and I discussed it in last month's update, so I won't bother going over that again in detail. In short, my opinion is that it's unachievable and Zahawi knows it, but he also knows he won't be SoS for Education in 2030, so he doesn't care.
The most depressing thing about all of the announcements and initiatives in the White Paper is that they aren't backed up with enough funding (or in many cases no funding at all), and Zahawi was rightly hauled over the coals when he did the TV rounds on Monday for the fact that school funding is only set to return to 2010 levels by 2024. As ever, there was a huge quantity of distracting 'dead cats' being thrown about, such as the announcement that all schools will be required to be open for 32.5 hours per week, and the classic "if your child falls behind we'll make schools intervene to help them catch up". All of these headlines are designed to play to the prejudices of Daily Mail readers who think that teachers are part-timers who just babysit their kids. I think they're also designed as covering-fire to prevent people from noticing the stuff that the the government is embarrased about, such as the admission of the 'systemic flaws' in their approach to the academisation of schools, that they are unlikley to achieve their target of academising all schools by 2030, and that they are now having to rope in Local Authorities to sort out a lot of the mess they've created, especially around admissions, financial management and inclusion. On page 46 of the SWP they even state "the system that has evolved over the past decade is messy and often confusing" - remind me who has been in power over the last decade!!!
Talking of inclusion, the DfE published a Green Paper covering the SEN review. The paper is titled “Right support, right place, right time”, which is somewhat ironic because the review was originally launched over two years ago in 2019, and there's still no clear timetable for actually implementing any of the proposed changes. There are a lot of proposals that I'm not sufficiently qualified to have a conisdered opinion on, but one that is 'up my street' is the proposal to update the published school league tables with contextual information about schools alongside their results data. The intention of this is to "make it easier to recognise schools that are doing well for children with SEND". In principle this has got to be a good thing, but we will have to wait and see if it actually happens, and whether it makes any sense when it does appear.
One announcement that you may have missed is the publication of statutory assessment dates for 2023 & 2024 which came out on March 21st. This caused a bit of consternation and debate because it confirms the DfE's intention to continue with KS1 assessments despite the fact that the first cohort to undertake the Reception Baseline Assessment will reach the end of KS1 in 2024. The whole point of the RBA was to make the KS1 'baseline' for progress redundant, and a lot of people were therefore expecting KS1 assessments to end after 2023. However, I seem to remember that the DfE did at some point say that there would be one year of 'overlap' to allow them to check and confirm that the RBA data is sufficiently robust to allow the replacement of the old KS1-2 progress measures with Reception-KS2 progress measures. I wouldn't be surprised if they persist with running both assessments for a number of years - after all - it's not much extra work for them, is it?!?
On the 25th March the DfE published an update relating to how they will calculate and use the 2022 KS2 performance measures. This document confirms that there will be 'no adaptations' to the tests and assessments; they will cover the 'full curriulum' and the expected standards will 'remain the same' as in previous years. On that basis I think we can all be fairly confident that attainment will be a lot lower than in 2019. The DfE say they recognise the 'uneven impact on schools of the pandemic' and that they want to use the performance data appropriately; to this effect they have confirmed that there will be no public performance tables. They will however share the data with schools, Trusts, LAs - and crucially - Ofsted. Despite their assurances that this information will be used cautiously and will be presented alongside 'caveats', I'm sure this news will be very worrying for a lot of headteachers.
While it would be reasonable to expect a big dip in national attainment this year, the progress measures (which are a 'relative' measure) should still look broadly similar to previous years. The big question (which was originally going to be answered in 2020) is how they will be calculated, because this is the first cohort to be tested at KS2 who were assessed without levels at KS1 . The DfE state that they have done some work to 'model how we might create prior attainment groups for the 2021/22 measures. This work suggests that we will be able to keep the methodology broadly similar to the one we have used in previous years. We anticipate that the changes to the baseline are likely to have minimal impact on the overall distribution of primary progress scores." I am sceptical about this, because of the unavoidable fact that a very large proportion of children nationally (probably about a third) will have been assessed as achieiving the expected standard in all three subjects at KS1, and all of them will have to be grouped together for prior attainment purposes. The progress measures might look very similar to previous years when they are published, but in my view their reliability and veracity will be even more questionable than in previous years. I'm sure I will have more to say about this in the autumn term!
The next item is only tangentially relevant to school data issues, but I wasn't previously aware of it, and I think it's potentially important. On 24th March an education minister announced the permanent extension of Free School Meal eligibility to children of families who have no access to public funds. This is obviously welcome news, as these will be some of the most vulnerable children and families in society. If I was that minister I would have been very proudly showing off about this, but it is interesting to see how this announcement was made without fanfare, presumably because it won't play well with the Conservatives' "core vote". The other implication of the minimal publicity is that the families concerned might not be aware that they can claim FSM and that schools might not be aware either. It's definitely a good idea for schools to encourage these families to register for FSM as you will then be able to get PP funding, and your official 'Disadvantaged' percentages will also increase. Apparently the DfE will be publishing guidance on how to check and validate eligibility for NRPF families "shortly" - keep an eye out for it!
The last piece of news I want to alert you to is that FFT have now added Persistent Absence figures to their Attendance Tracker system. I know that a lot of you are concerned about the big increase in the numbers of children who will be counted as persistent absentees, but be assured, you're not on your own: the FFT's unofficial 'national' persistent absentee figure for primary schools is currently being reported as 26% (that's about three times as large as the pre-pandemic national figure).