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.

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 | 2017-10-23T13:11:39+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 | 2017-10-23T13:06:25+00:00 January 24th, 2017|School accountability|

KS4 performance tables 2016: When coasting feels like paddling hard to keep your head above water

This week, 319 secondary schools have been told that they are coasting and so will become eligible for intervention. This includes a staggeringly high 22.6% of schools in the east Midlands. For those deemed to have insufficient capacity to bring about improvement this could be the start of a long road to forced academisation. And [...]

By | 2017-10-23T13:10:26+00:00 January 19th, 2017|Exams and assessment, School accountability, School improvement|

KS2 performance tables 2016: Do we need value added at Key Stage 2?

Value added data, calculated by a number of different methods over the years, has been a feature of school performance tables since 2003. In principle, the idea is sound. Comparisons of schools’ raw attainment measures often say more about schools’ intakes than they do about the quality of teaching and learning. So if the state [...]

By | 2016-12-15T11:59:49+00:00 December 15th, 2016|Exams and assessment, Pupil demographics, School accountability|

Qualification neutral Progress 8

One criticism of the current Progress 8 measure is that the points awarded to some qualifications are more (or less) favourable than to others. There is a risk that any inequality in the way different qualifications are valued incentivises schools to pursue those treated more favourably at the expense of working to improve grades awarded [...]

By | 2017-10-23T13:08:55+00:00 December 7th, 2016|Exams and assessment, School accountability|

The impact of ECDL on Progress 8 scores

We have written previously about how the points awarded to the European Computer Driving Licence in school performance tables appeared to be out-of-kilter with other qualifications, given the grades achieved by ECDL entrants in GCSEs they took. And Data Educator has subsequently written more on the topic. (To give it its full title, we’re talking about [...]

By | 2016-12-07T12:55:01+00:00 November 14th, 2016|Exams and assessment, School accountability|

Pupil moves to the independent sector: why are there more late moves in some areas than others?

We have previously examined the extent to which pupils leave the roll of state-funded mainstream secondary schools. In this post, we look at one of the destinations of pupils who leave the roll of a state-funded mainstream school: the independent sector. (Today Ofsted has spoken out about unregistered alternative provision. To be clear, all of [...]

By | 2016-12-07T12:55:02+00:00 November 8th, 2016|Pupil demographics, School accountability|

Should KS2 floor standards be based on an overall value added score?

From this year, the secondary school accountability framework will be predominately based around a single value added measure, Progress 8, although a small number of headline attainment indicators will be published alongside it. However, there is no single equivalent measure for primary schools. Three value added (VA) measures have been calculated in reading, writing and maths. [...]

By | 2017-10-23T12:45:53+00:00 October 26th, 2016|Exams and assessment, School accountability|

The greatest challenge

The starkest figure published in last week’s Key Stage 4 statistical first release (SFR) was the Progress 8 score for Knowsley, a small unitary authority in Merseyside. Pupils attending its six secondary schools achieved on average almost a grade per subject lower than pupils with similar prior attainment elsewhere in the country. All six schools [...]

By | 2016-12-07T12:55:05+00:00 October 18th, 2016|Pupil demographics, School accountability, School improvement|