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.

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 | 2017-08-08T15:48:59+00:00 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 | 2017-04-28T15:35:21+00:00 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 | 2017-04-19T09:12:19+00:00 April 14th, 2017|Exams and assessment, Post-16 provision, School accountability|

Getting older quicker

At Datalab we write about half a dozen blogposts in a typical month. Some we slave over and others we knock out in a matter of minutes, usually with one eye on the football or Paw Patrol. Being unashamed data wonks, we then pore over Google Analytics to see which of our posts have left [...]

By | 2017-03-03T11:56:20+00:00 March 3rd, 2017|Pupil demographics, School accountability|

Putting Progress 8 in context

We thought we’d run out of things to say about Progress 8 but a couple of blogposts from Tom Sherrington and Jim Gordon last week made us realise that we hadn’t. Both examine, among other things, how Progress 8 scores vary by pupil and school characteristics. (Progress 8 is the headline value added measure by which [...]

By | 2017-03-02T18:00:49+00:00 March 2nd, 2017|Exams and assessment, School accountability|

The equivalence of A-Levels and BTECs

* Updated 3rd April 2017 following helpful feedback from UCAS* Last week, the Higher Education Policy Institute published a report on BTECs and university admissions [PDF]. It recognised that much of the increase in the proportion of young people achieving Level 3 – A-Levels or equivalents – by age 19 (see Table 3 here, XLSX) [...]

By | 2017-04-04T08:09:10+00:00 February 28th, 2017|Exams and assessment, Post-16 provision|

Forget about grammars, we need places for pupils with special educational needs

Two blogposts from the Headteachers’ Roundtable concerning funding and pupils with statements of special educational needs (SEN) or education, health and care plans (EHCP)[1] caught our eye recently. The first, by Jarlath O’Brien, highlighted the projected 15% increase in the number of pupils requiring a place in a special school over the next ten years [...]

By | 2017-02-03T14:41:32+00:00 February 3rd, 2017|Pupil demographics, Structures|

Another attempt at a qualification-neutral Progress 8 measure

Progress 8 is the value added measure by which secondary schools are being judged, starting from the last academic year. At Datalab we’re broadly supportive of it as a measure. But no measure of school performance is perfect, and P8 is no exception. It doesn’t account for pupil background, and so favours schools with high percentages [...]

By | 2017-04-21T22:09:31+00:00 January 24th, 2017|School accountability|