About Dave Thomson

Dave Thomson is Chief Statistician at FFT with over fifteen years’ experience working with educational attainment data to raise attainment in local government, higher education and the commercial sector. His current research interests include linking education and workplace datasets to improve estimates of adult attainment and study the impact of education on employment and benefits outcomes.

A-Level results day 2017: Is it the end of the road for AS-Levels?

Last year, we reported on entries and grades in the first set of AS-Levels to be reformed. Compared to 2015, entries fell in all subjects, ranging from 11% (business studies) to 33% (art and design). This year, more subjects have been reformed and decoupled from A-Levels. Data published by Ofqual earlier in the summer showed [...]

By | August 17th, 2017|Exams and assessment, Post-16 provision|

Can we compare the A-Level performance of independent schools and state schools?

Last week the TES ran a story based on some research by Tom Richmond [PDF] comparing the A-Level value added scores of independent schools and state schools. In the story, the average value added score for the 10 highest attaining independent schools was given as 0.19, and for the 10 highest attaining non-selective state schools 0.26[1]. [...]

By | August 14th, 2017|Post-16 provision, School accountability|

Measuring two-year retention post-16: what does it show?

Each year, the government of the day publishes performance indicators about schools and colleges. While ostensibly they provide the public (and particularly parents) with information, and so inform choice, they are also a lever to encourage the system to function in the way the government wants. Indicators come and go as governments change. Plans for [...]

By | August 9th, 2017|Post-16 provision, School accountability|

What might EBacc average points scores look like?

Although previous governments used the machinery of performance tables and school accountability to drive improvements in the education system, the Coalition government of 2010 was the first to use it to influence the qualifications that pupils entered at age 16. But for all the rhetoric about the damaging effects on curriculum offer of the English [...]

The correlation between Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 value added

How well do schools’ value added (VA) scores at Key Stage 1 correlate with their value added scores at Key Stage 2? Do schools with high scores on one tend to achieve a high score on the other? Or do schools with low VA scores at KS1 tend to achieve high VA scores at KS2? [...]

By | August 2nd, 2017|School accountability, School improvement|

Are more pupils really taking arts subjects?

Schools Week last week published a handy summary of Ofqual’s release of summer 2017 examination entry statistics. It notes that entries in EBacc subjects have risen whilst entries in other subjects have fallen. This raises the question of whether the EBacc is crowding other subjects out of the curriculum. In defence of the EBacc, Schools [...]

By | June 23rd, 2017|Exams and assessment, School accountability|

Young people are taking fewer A-Levels as qualification reforms kick in and per-student spending falls

Post-16 education is in a period of flux, with major qualification reforms and a drop in per-student spending. Reformed A-Levels began to be introduced from September 2015, with a concurrent decoupling of AS-Levels. And, as the IFS have reported [PDF], spending per student in school sixth forms and further education has been falling since 2010/11. [...]

By | May 18th, 2017|Exams and assessment, Post-16 provision|

Shadowplay

Towards the end of last month, the Department for Education published ‘shadow’ Attainment 8 data for 2015/16 [PDF]. This shows the impact of moving from the familiar scoring of A*-G grades – one point for grade G, up to eight points for grade A* – to the interim scale that will be used in 2016/17 [...]

By | April 27th, 2017|Exams and assessment, School accountability|

Are 19-year-olds really becoming less qualified?

Aficionados of DfE Statistical First Releases (SFRs) were shocked to their very core a couple of weeks ago with the revelation that the percentage of 19-year-olds qualified to Level 2 had fallen for the first time since records began. In the real world this equates to young people achieving five or more GCSEs at grades A*-C [...]

By | April 14th, 2017|Exams and assessment, Post-16 provision, School accountability|