Statistics for England on Schools, Pupils and their Characteristics, and on Absence and Exclusions

This report concludes that the statistics on the characteristics of schools and pupils should retain their National Statistics status, as long as DfE demonstrates it has enhanced their value, quality and trustworthiness in the ways that we describe in chapters one to three.

We temporarily removed the National Statistics status of statistics on unlawfully large class sizes after DfE told us it was concerned about their quality. To re-instate National Statistics status, DfE needs to check the actions it has taken to improve the quality have worked in the way they expect, as described in chapter two.

We have asked DfE to report on its actions by the end of April 2017.

The statistics are already well-used. Local authorities, academy chains, schools and parents use school-level data to learn more about individual schools and their pupils. Academics and researchers use the data to improve society’s understanding of the effects of education and how education policy affects different groups of pupils. And local and national government use the statistics and data to make decisions about schools’ funding and to develop policy for local areas and for England as a whole.

DfE’s work to make data available in innovative formats – through the Performance Tables – to share data and to make data held in the National Pupil Database more available, increases their public value. We encourage and support DfE’s efforts to put appropriate safeguards in place to protect individual pupils’ privacy as it works towards delivering wider access to the data about schools and pupils.


This document was republished on 17 February 2017 to include a reference to the published correspondence that we refer to in paragraph 3.7.

 

Related links:

Confirmation of National Statistics and re-designation of statistics on unlawfully large infant class sizes

 


Access to education attainment data

The Authority awarded National Statistics status in 2014 to school-level attainment statistics for England as presented in DfE’s Performance Tables. Following an enquiry about access to education attainment data highlighting the absence of unregulated IGCSEs from attainment statistics, the Director General for Regulation commissioned an investigation to gather new evidence about the school-level attainment statistics and the underlying data, and to consider the implications for the National Statistics status of these statistics.

Our overall conclusion is that the National Statistics status of the school-level attainment statistics for England – as presented in DfE’s Performance Tables – should continue, on the understanding that DfE implements the requirements that we have set out in the report.

We concluded that there was a gap in coverage across the suite of statistics and that DfE’s planned actions ­– along with information available from other organisations – should be sufficient to meet most needs associated with the gap. We have asked DfE to keep demand under review to ensure that this is and remains the case.

Before the enquiry, DfE had begun to put in place actions that will improve access to education attainment data and has identified others that will help to meet the gap in coverage that the enquiry identified. The Authority welcomes these actions and looks forward to seeing improvements to the statistics that result.

We will continue to keep the National Statistics status of the school-level attainment statistics for England as presented in DfE’s Performance Tables under review.


This document was republished on 11 August 2016 to remove references to IGCSEs â  – which is the registered trademark of Cambridge International Examinations – and replaced it with international GCSEs.


Related downloads

Letter from Ed Humpherson to Iain Bell

Letter from Ed Humpherson to Simon Briscoe

Publishing statistical reports at 9.30am – Department for Education

Protocol 2 Practice 4 of the Code of Practice for Official Statistics provides for statistical reports to be published at 9.30am on a weekday.

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced that it plans to bring forward publication of key stage 2 assessment results compared with previous years. Because of the compressed timescale, DfE told us that it is highly unlikely that it will be able to release these results at 9.30am, but expects to publish them as soon as possible after 11am.

The Authority has confirmed that in these circumstances it is acceptable for DfE to publish these statistics after a delay.

School-level Examination Statistics for England

This is one of a series of reports prepared under the provisions of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 . The Act allows an appropriate authority to request an assessment of official statistics against the Code of Practice for Official Statistics5 in order for them to gain National Statistics status.

The subject of the assessment is the school-level achievement and attainment results and progress measures (School-level examination statistics), that are produced by the Department for Education (DfE). The School-level examination statistics sit at the heart of the UK Government’s school accountability system in England and are used in a number of different ways by Ministers in discharging their duties to raise standards in schools.

Although developed originally before the Act and the Code of Practice were in place and for a different purpose, the involvement of statisticians has ensured that statistical thinking has been central to their evolution. DfE and the Authority have agreed that these may be considered official statistics on the grounds that they are used publicly in support of government decisions of public interest. To understand what further actions are needed to bring the School-level examination statistics element of the performance tables up to the standards required for designation as National Statistics, they also agreed that it would be beneficial to both DfE and the Authority to assess the School-level examination statistics against the Code of Practice.

The following School-level examination statistics have been assessed:

Achievement and attainment

National Curriculum Test results at end of primary (key stage 2)

GCSE and equivalent results at secondary (key stage 4)

A level and vocational results at 16-18 at school or college (key stage 5)

Progress Measures

From key stage 1 – key stage 2

From key stage 2 – key stage 4

From key stage 4 – key stage 5

School-level Examination Statistics for England: Letter of Confirmation as National Statistics (1)

School-level Examination Statistics for England: Letter of Confirmation as National Statistics (2)

Statistics on Looked After Children

This is one of a series of reports prepared under the provisions of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007. The Act gives the Statistics Authority power to re-assess whether the Code of Practice for Official Statistics continues to be complied with in relation to official statistics already designated as National Statistics. The report covers the sets of statistics produced by the Department for Education (DfE), the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government, and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Northern Ireland (DHSSPS) (collectively referred to as the producer bodies in this report) and reported in the following publications:

DfE:

• Children looked after in England (including adoption and care leavers)

• Outcomes for Children Looked After by Local Authorities in England

The Welsh Government:

• Adoptions, Outcomes and Placements for Children Looked After by Local Authorities, Wales

• Social Services Statistics Wales (parts relating to LAC)

• Referrals, Assessments and Social Services for Children, Wales (parts relating to health checks for LAC, and reviews carried out within statutory timetables)

The Scottish Government:

• Children’s Social Work Statistics Scotland (parts relating to LAC)

DHSSPS:

• Children in Care in Northern Ireland

• Children Adopted from Care in Northern Ireland

• Children’s Social Care Statistics for Northern Ireland (parts relating to looked after children (LAC))

• Northern Ireland Care Leavers Aged 16-18

• Northern Ireland Care Leavers Aged 19

The previous assessments of these sets of statistics were reported in Assessment reports 13, 14, 15, 16, 188, 219 and 223. In some cases the ways in which the statistics are now packaged for publication and the names of the individual products have changed.

This re-assessment is the first in what may become a series of topic-based assessments, each covering a variety of producer bodies. It has been designed to focus on issues that are inherent to this particular topic and which arose in the earlier assessments. It does not therefore cover every element in the Code. The issues are:

• the quality of the data used to compile the statistics

• the collection and use of child-level (as opposed to aggregate) information

• comparability across the UK

• coverage of the topic area and packaging into statistical products

The specific elements of the Code that are relevant to these issues are Principles 4.2, 4.3, 4.5, 4.6, 5.1, 5.4, 6.1, 7.5, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4, 8.6 and Protocol 3.3.

The following Official Statistics are included within this report in order to gain a better overview of the topic area. Because the assessment does not cover all of the practices within the Code, they are not being assessed here with a view to designation as National Statistics:

The Welsh Government:

• Wales Children in Need Census (parts relating to LAC) (Welsh Government)

• Fostering and Adoption Intermediary Services, Wales (the part relating to foster settings for LAC) (Welsh Government)

The Scottish Government:

• Education outcomes for Scotland’s looked after children

This report was prepared by the Authority’s Assessment team, and approved by the Assessment Committee on behalf of the Board of the Statistics Authority, based on the advice of the Head of Assessment.

Statistics on Looked After Children: Letter of Confirmation as National Statistics – DfE

Statistics on Looked After Children: Letter of Confirmation as National Statistics – NISRA

Statistics on Looked After Children: Letter of Confirmation as National Statistics – SG

Statistics on Looked After Children: Letter of Confirmation as National Statistics – WG