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.

Provisional KS4 data 2016: Low take-up of languages will make the government’s 90% EBacc goal hard to achieve

This is the seventh year that English Baccalaureate (EBacc) data has been published. It was first launched in January 2011 when retrospectively applied to 2010 Key Stage 4 data. Since then, much has been written about its impact on take-up of creative subjects, its suitability for less academically-gifted pupils, and even whether it risks failing [...]

By | October 13th, 2016|Exams and assessment, School accountability|

How should we define KS4 floor standards?

The question of how floor standards are defined is one that – to all heads, but particularly those who might be at risk of not meeting them – is obviously of great importance. And there are clearly numerous ways in which a floor standard could be defined. (We leave to one side the question of [...]

By | October 4th, 2016|School accountability|

Why do pupils with lower prior attainment do better in English than maths at GCSE?

This post was updated at 14:40 on 27 September 2016 to clarify the impact of Attainment 8 calculations generally being based on the better of a child's grades in English literature and English language. We were asked on Twitter why we thought the 2016 Attainment 8 estimates for English were so much higher than for [...]

By | September 27th, 2016|Exams and assessment|

What Progress 8 tells us about how the curriculum has changed in schools

Secondary schools today received provisional Progress 8 data for 2016. This is a significant milestone given the importance attached to Progress 8 in the secondary school accountability framework. The rest of us will have to wait until provisional data is published in October. In the meantime DfE has published some very useful technical information that [...]

By | September 26th, 2016|Exams and assessment, School accountability|

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|