ASCL comment on school performance tables

06/02/2020
Duncan Baldwin, Deputy Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders comments on the publication of revised Key Stage 4 performance tables. 
 
Commenting on the publication of revised Key Stage 4 performance tables this morning, Duncan Baldwin, Deputy Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

Today’s school performance tables come with a health warning. The headline statistic is Progress 8 which measures the progress made by pupils between 11 and 16. This is better than the old system of judging school performance solely on GCSE attainment regardless of their pupils’ starting point, but it is by no means perfect. 

Some groups of disadvantaged pupils make less progress than others because of challenges in their lives, and this can penalise schools with more disadvantaged pupils. Progress scores are also disproportionately skewed by a very small number of pupils with unusually low results which may be outside the school’s control such as a pupil who misses exams because of a long-term absence.

We would therefore urge extreme caution about ranking schools according to this data

ASCL is campaigning for reform of school performance tables so that they include a broader range of information more relevant to parents such as the rounded education provided by a school’s extra-curricular provision. This would provide a more complete picture of the work of schools and would be more useful.

These performance tables come after a series of problems dating back to September in collecting and processing qualification data, the most recent of which resulted in a two-week delay to the information published today. We support the Department for Education’s decision to delay publication because it is essential to make sure the data is accurate. However, these difficulties do not inspire confidence in the processes for compiling school performance tables and we urge the department to review its systems carefully to ensure they are more robust in the future.