The Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has treated the UK Stats Watchdog's criticism
of her use of literacy statistics with disdain. The Watchdog said Morgan’s statement to the Tory Conference that under Labour ‘1 in every third child finished primary school unable to read, write or add up’ was misleading.
It was inaccurate to claim Year 6 pupils who didn’t reach Level 4 in SATS were illiterate and innumerate, Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, said.
But Sir Andrew’s condemnation didn’t stop Morgan repeating the claim in the Commons yesterday:
...under the previous Labour Government one in three of our young people were leaving primary school unable to read and write. That is a shocking statistic.'
What's 'shocking' is that the Education Secretary continues to use flawed statistics when the Stats Watchdog wrote to Morgan saying they were unsound. But the Department for Education has form – using flawed PISA data
to make misleading comparisons; hyping up
the performance of sponsored academies; using evidence that doesn’t exist (see here
); hiding biased commentary
under trusted statistics and thinking surveys
from Premier Inn and UK TV Gold were reliable evidence.
Nicky Morgan may be playing good cop to Gove's bad cop, but she's using the same dubious tactics - repeating dodgy data enough times for it to become 'truth'.
Thanks to Laura McInerney (@miss_mcinerney
) for alerting me to Morgan’s repeated use of the dodgy stat. Ms McInerney is Deputy Editor of Academies Week
which reported the debate here
11 December 2014 14.45
The dodgy statement above wasn’t the only example of tricky statistics used by Morgan. She said ‘‘100,000 more six-year-olds are now on track to become confident readers because of our focus on phonics’. But a report commissioned by her department found the majority of schools were using other methods
in addition to phonics. It appears Morgan doesn't just ignore letters from the UK Stats Watchdog but also hasn't read DfE-commissioned reports.
She also said the number of pupils taking ‘core academic GCSEs’ was up by 60% since 2009-10. But we don’t know whether ‘up by 60%’ is good or not unless we know the starting figure. What we do know, thanks to DfE data
, is that 38.7% of pupils took GCSEs for all subject areas of the EBacc in 2013/14. This was up from 35.5% the year before. 23.9% of pupils achieved the EBacc in 2013/14. But the number crunchers warned it was not possible to compare GCSE results for 2013/14 with earlier years because of changes in ‘methodology, examinations and behaviour.' Perhaps it'll only be a matter of time before Government ministers ignore that warning as well.
The rise in entries for EBacc subjects was accompanied by a decrease (43%) of entries for non-EBacc subjects. At the same time, entries for single sciences (biology, chemistry, physics) were also down.