The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has today published a review of the Key Stage 4 (KS4) performance statistics produced by Department for Education (DfE). These statistics are published annually and are based on GCSE results as well as a small set of vocational qualifications.

These statistics remain an important indicator of education and are especially important in the context of the impacts of the COVID-19 on children and their education.

OSR found widespread good practice in the production and dissemination of the KS4 statistics and welcomes planned changes for improvement. As part of our assessment, we found strong examples of user engagement, statistical commentary, quality, and data linkage and sharing.

 We also identified four actions where DfE could improve the statistics:

  • Improving the distinction between the KS4 accountability measures used by ministers to hold schools accountable and the wider KS4 statistics (Requirement 1);
  • Ensuring that the impact of COVID-19 is fully explained to users in the 2022 publication especially on metrics and data that are being published for the first time since the pandemic (Requirement 2);
  • Engaging effectively with the widest possible audience and sharing plans for KS4 development with all users (Requirement 3); and
  • Continuing with existing plans to publish an update on Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) audit recommendations which relate to the Code of Practice for Statistics to ensure public confidence in DfE data governance procedures (Requirement 4).

The Department for Education has committed to introducing improvements to the statistical bulletin on the impact on COVID-19 for the 2021/22 release (Requirement 2) and meeting the remaining requirements by the 2022/23 release. OSR looks forward to continuing to work with DfE on the planned changes for improvement.

Director General for OSR, Ed Humpherson said: 

 “The KS4 performance statistics are a high-profile output that are used by a range of users for different purposes. Our assessment found widespread good practice in the production of the KS4 statistics, with DfE regularly engaging with a wide range of users and using their feedback to inform improvements to the statistics.”

 “Users spoke highly of the impartial and informative commentary that accompanies the KS4 statistical release, as well as the quality of the statistics. The KS4 statistics set is also a strong example of how data can be linked and shared in order to inform education policy and research.”

“But there is also room for improvement in how the statistics are presented and explained and we expect DfE to address our recommendations fully”.

Related Links

Assessment of compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics: Key Stage 4 performance statistics for England

Ed Humpherson to Neil McIvor: Assessment of Key Stage 4 Performance Statistics


Additional Information

To be designated as National Statistics, the OSR must assess and judge that the official statistics comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics. To ensure the standard is met we have collected evidence for each of the three pillars of the Code: Trustworthiness, Quality and Value.  Key Stage 4 Statistics – are badged as National Statistics, as we have previously judged them to comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics and continues to be the case. As part of OSR’s role as statistics regulator, we regularly revisit National Statistics to check that they still meet these high standards and remain fit for purpose.