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 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 | 2017-11-13T14:39:55+00:00 August 31st, 2017|Exams and assessment, School accountability|

GCSE results day 2017: Good news about resits in English

[This post was updated at 18.15 on 24th August 2017 to amend 2016 figures for maths] One bit of good news from this year’s GCSE results is that the percentages of 17-year-olds in England achieving A*-C grades in English have gone up. However, working out by just how much they have improved is made slightly [...]

By | 2017-10-23T12:55:36+00:00 August 24th, 2017|Exams and assessment, Post-16 provision|

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 | 2017-10-23T12:51:16+00:00 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 | 2017-10-23T12:50:32+00:00 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 | 2017-10-23T12:50:55+00:00 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 [...]