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.

Why is the performance of MATs so extreme?

Answer: It isn’t. So why ask the question? Well, among the glut of statistics published by the Department for Education on Thursday was a statistical first release on the performance of multi-academy trusts (MATs) [PDF]. At the top of the second page was this curious chart. At first glance, this looks rather alarming. It seems to [...]

By | 2018-02-02T09:09:22+00:00 January 28th, 2018|Exams and assessment, School accountability, Structures|

Key Stage 5 performance tables 2017: Do minimum standards meet the standard?

Minimum performance standards for 16-18 Level 3 (A-Level and equivalent) attainment were first introduced in 2016. Separate standards were defined for academic qualifications (primarily A-Levels) and applied general qualifications (primarily BTECs)[1]. The standards are based on value added measures that control for pupil attainment at Key Stage 4. For academic qualifications, the minimum standard in [...]

By | 2018-02-02T09:08:25+00:00 January 25th, 2018|Post-16 provision|

Explore England’s changing free school meals rates

Most of the time our work involves using the National Pupil Database to examine particular aspects of the education system. However, it can also throw up interesting insights into the state of the nation more generally. Last year, we wrote about how the percentage of pupils eligible for and claiming free school meals (FSM) had [...]

By | 2017-12-19T17:20:34+00:00 December 18th, 2017|Pupil demographics|

KS2 performance tables 2017: Three things from this morning’s data

Today’s Key Stage 2 Statistical First Release provides further information on the 2017 Key Stage 2 results which we first wrote about here. This includes school-level data, plus data on the performance of different groups of pupils. There are some interesting differences in progress scores between ethnic groups There is much greater variation in the [...]

By | 2017-12-15T15:17:14+00:00 December 14th, 2017|Exams and assessment, School accountability|

Test reliability, and why it matters for primary school performance tables

This year’s Key Stage 2 performance tables will be published tomorrow, summarising the attainment of pupils in KS2 tests in reading, maths, and grammar, punctuation and spelling (GPS). But how reliable are these tests, and what does this mean for published performance indicators? Getting the right balance A well-designed test should give a pupil the [...]

By | 2017-12-20T13:24:04+00:00 December 13th, 2017|Exams and assessment, School accountability, School improvement|

Provisional KS4 data 2017: Raising the floor

Schools’ provisional Progress 8 scores for 2017 were published today, having already been released to schools over a fortnight ago. This would have been a chastening experience for those falling below the floor standard of -0.5. On the surface, there are more of them this year than last. But is this fair? Changes to GCSE [...]

By | 2017-10-18T18:06:18+00:00 October 12th, 2017|Exams and assessment, School accountability, School improvement|

Who are the pupils in alternative provision?

Latest DfE statistics show that there were almost 16,000 pupils on-roll at pupil referral units, and another 22,000 in other local authority alternative provision in January 2017 [XLS, table 1b]. These are pupils whose education is paid for by the state but who do not have places at state-funded mainstream or special schools. The different [...]

By | 2017-11-20T17:59:42+00:00 October 11th, 2017|Admissions, Pupil demographics, Structures|

How prevalent is Year 12 drop-out from selective schools?

Following the coverage of St. Olave’s school in The Guardian, I revisited the analysis I did on Year 12 retention to examine the prevalence of drop-out from selective schools. I look at a subset of pupils: those who made it to the end of Year 12 and were entered for at least three AS-Levels in [...]

By | 2017-10-23T12:55:24+00:00 September 1st, 2017|Admissions, Post-16 provision|

Provisional KS2 data 2017: Five key points from today’s release

1. The percentage of pupils achieving the higher standard has increased We already knew that the percentage of pupils achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and maths increased from 53% last year to 61% this year. And today’s release of provisional Key Stage 2 data shows that the percentage reaching the higher standard increased [...]

By | 2017-12-20T13:23:44+00:00 August 31st, 2017|Exams and assessment, School accountability|