Of equivalents, ebaccs and distorted data

Henry Stewart's picture
Some initial extracts from today's DfE data release. The DfE press release made great claims about the contribution of academies. Do these stand up to scrutiny?

Sponsored academies twice as likely to use GCSE equivalents

Sponsored academies: 14.8% pts from equivalents, on average
Maintained schools: 7.3% pts from equivalents, on average

This means any claims of greater increase from academies needs to be treated with caution. And it poses big questions for 2014, when most of these equivalents will no longer be counted towards the GCSE %. Will we see big falls in GCSE results, especially among sponsored academies?

Ebacc still low in Sponsored academies

The DfE press release boasts that the proportion of students taking the ebacc in sponsored academies had doubled, from 11% to 22%. However it doesn't mention that the proportion achieving the ebacc in those schools has increased far less, from 8% to 11%.

As last year, for pupils in sponsored academies, they are far less likely to take the traditional GCSEs so favoured by Mr Gove and far more likely to take the GCSE equivalents that he dismisses.

Half the schools below the floor target are academies

The DfE states that 154 schools this year fell below the floor target of 40% on the GCSE benchmark. The DfE press release says: Schools below the floor and with a history of under-performance face being taken over by a sponsor with a track record of improving weak schools.

However 79 of these schools (over half) appear to be academies. Maybe they should be taken over by local authorities?


.......... More analysis to follow later.
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Be notified by email of each new post.


Phil Bourne's picture
Thu, 23/01/2014 - 21:13

Today I had the fortune of looking at four datasets to help me make some simple comparisons that go beyond the SFA. School leaders do not have time to tell their story in relation to the true contexts which are often not applied or understood when judgements are made. I think that the answers lie in the datasets and that leaders need tools that better enable them to make comparisons.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 24/01/2014 - 08:49

When does 154 - "nearly 200"? Answer: in the Daily Telegraph.

The DT published the data before the DfE issued its press release so the DT's stats couldn't be verified. The DT mentioned the "failing" schools ("comprehensives" actually, thereby "proving" that comprehensive education doesn't work). But it didn't mention that just over half (79 out of 154) were academies.


Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 24/01/2014 - 08:56

It appears the Catholic Education Service was right. It was among several submissions which told the Education Select Committee in 2011 that the retrospective introduction of EBac was a politically rather than educationally driven move, as it would, in the words of the Catholic Education Service, “allow the Government to show significant ‘improvement’ in future years”.

And it came to pass....


Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 24/01/2014 - 09:25

When does 117,000 = "more than 150,000"? Yes, it's the Telegraph again (see comment above).

The DT was referring to the number of pupils it alleges are in "failing" secondary schools (aka "comprehensives").

When does "around 180" = "nearly 200"? A pattern is emerging. You've no doubt spotted it. It's the DT again.

The "nearly 200" figure was wrong. The "around 180" is also wrong (see comment above).

Oh, dear.


Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 24/01/2014 - 14:24

Has anyone noticed anything odd in the 2013 16-18 performance tables? Under Academic Attainment, there’s a heading giving the “% of vocational students achieving at least 2 substantial vocational qualifications.” The same heading appears under Vocational Attainment.

You’d expect the figures to be the same but they aren’t.

If you click on the question mark next to each heading you’ll get an explanation. The first description of “vocational students” describes them as “academic students” getting A levels, IB and other non-vocational exams. The second description of “vocational students” describes them as you would expect: “vocational students” gaining vocational qualifications.

So, in the first explanation, vocational = academic and vocational exams are non-vocational ones. In the second explanation, vocational means vocational and the vocational qualifications are non-academic ones.

Confused? So am I. Again.

Add new comment

Already a member? Click here to log in before you comment. Or register with us.