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.

How did this year’s Key Stage 2 reading test compare to last year’s?

So now we know. The new Key Stage 2 tests in reading and maths were harder than their predecessors. And there was also substantial variation in writing teacher assessment between local authorities. In this post we examine which pupils met the expected standards in 2016, and how that compares to 2015. We also look at [...]

By | September 19th, 2016|Exams and assessment, Pupil demographics, School accountability|

Accountability for schools which admit at 14

On 13 October secondary schools will receive Progress 8 data for 2016. They will already have received so-called ‘shadow’ data for 2015, of course, but the 2016 data will be different. It will be a game changer. It will be published in Performance Tables and used to define floor standards.  As we have written previously, it [...]

By | September 12th, 2016|School accountability|

GCSE results day 2016: Entry numbers and A*-C pass rates by subject

Entries in most EBacc subjects increased... Although there was a small reduction in the number of 16 year olds in the UK in 2016 compared to 2015, entries in most EBacc subjects increased. Entries in core and additional science increased by the greatest margin as schools continue to switch pupils out of the BTEC science [...]

By | August 26th, 2016|Exams and assessment|

Do you really need to wait to calculate Progress 8?

There has been some discussion on blogs and twitter in recent days about whether schools should try calculating Progress 8 on results day. Given that it is the measure used to define the floor standard, it is quite understandable that schools will want to know as soon as possible where they lie in relation to [...]

By | August 25th, 2016|Exams and assessment, School accountability|

A-Level results day 2016: Entries and grades in the new ‘decoupled’ AS-Levels

This year’s AS-Level results include the first set of decoupled subjects, which won't count towards English students' final A-Level grades next year. Declines in UK entry numbers in the decoupled subjects range from 11% (business studies) to 33% (art and design). Why not enter for AS-Level? Examination fees cost money, and schools’ post-16 budgets are already stretched from funding reforms which have [...]

By | August 18th, 2016|Exams and assessment, Post-16 provision|

Where have London’s disadvantaged pupils gone?

One of the most interesting figures in Tuesday’s statistical first release on pupils in state-funded schools was the fall in the percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals to the lowest level recorded since the introduction of the School Census in January 2002. Of course, it's well-known that free school meal eligibility is an [...]

By | June 30th, 2016|Pupil demographics|

Does Ofqual also need to look at the grades awarded in non-GCSE qualifications?

Ofqual last week wrote to awarding organisations (AOs), asking them to justify the size, and guided learning hours, of qualifications of theirs which count in Key Stage 4 performance tables. The regulator may wish to go further and consider also how grades in non-GCSE qualifications relate to GCSE grades. GCSE grades awarded by different AOs [...]

By | May 2nd, 2016|Exams and assessment|

How many small school sixth forms fail to meet new guidelines on viability?

Last month, DfE published new guidance for academies wanting to open a new school sixth form. The guidance includes the recommendation that they should have at least 200 pupils and offer 15 A levels (as reported in TES last week). We think over 40% of existing school sixth forms fail to meet these guidelines, for [...]

By | April 19th, 2016|Post-16 provision|

Which are the most difficult subjects at GCSE?

Answer? Law and astronomy, although there are very few entries each year. The much bigger issue is that GCSEs in modern foreign languages are graded more severely than other subjects. Just before Christmas, Ofqual published a set of very interesting working papers about inter-subject comparability and subject difficulty in GCSEs and A levels. The conclusion [...]

By | February 23rd, 2016|Exams and assessment|