Category Archives: analysis

About “Requires Improvement” – Ofsted 2013.

Ofsted were in school last term, and we were all given a copy of their report last week. It’s not available on Ofsted’s website yet.

We have remained at grade 3. Last time, a 3 was “Satisfactory”. This year, Ofsted have renamed the grade to “Requires Improvement” – Please don’t think that this means things have got worse; reading the report, and comparing to last year, reveals quite the opposite, in fact. But we think that this change of terminology will cause confusion, as it will for many schools, because on the face of it, going from “Satisfactory” to “Requires Improvement” sounds like things have got worse.

A couple of quotes  –

2012: The school failed to meet the government’s current floor standard which sets the minimum expectations for pupils’ attainment and progress.

2013: The school meets the government’s current floor standards, which set the minimum expectations for pupils’ attainment and progress.

That’s definitely an improvement, for a start. Indeed, the new report states :

Actions taken by senior leaders and governors have led to ongoing improvements in teaching and achievement, particularly in reading and writing, since the last inspection

Since the last inspection, middle leaders have become more involved in checking the quality of teaching and pupils’ work. They provide helpful feedback to individual staff and specific
guidance ,support and training where needed,which has led to improvements in teaching .

Yes there is still work to be done, but every comparison with the past is positive; there is no slippage. It seems that although improvements have been made, it’s not yet been quite enough to move us up to a grade 2, so we stay at 3, and suffer from the renaming of that to make it seem like things have got worse, when the report actually says the opposite.

One further point of interest, especially given the reason for creating this website –

An external review of governance should be undertaken in order to assess how this aspect of  leadership and management may be improved.

Performance Statistics – An analysis

Numbers
Numbers

I asked my father, a (retired) statistician and lecturer, to look at the last school performance results (available here) and look at the perceived significant drop (65% to 54%) in Key Stage 2 pupils  achieving Level 4 or above in reading, writing and maths.  This is his report:

Statistics can be a very useful tool, but all too often they can be misleading or misinterpreted. The School Results case is not as straightforward as it may appear.

The use of percentage results gives a false impression, and masks the fact that  only small numbers (of pupils) are involved.

For a class size of 24, the 2013 result of 52% translates as 13 pupils. For the same class size the 2012 value of 65% gives 16 pupils (or 15 if the class was only 23 in size).

Since this is only a difference of 2 or 3 pupils it is easy to suggest that this could simply be due to the presence of more ‘underachievers’ in 2013 – or conversely extra ‘high-fliers’ the year before.

This could be true – but it is not the only possible explanation. Even with exactly uniform situations numerical measurements on samples can (and do) vary by chance. This is easy to demonstrate if need be.

Samples of small size can show differences that appear surprisingly large – while larger samples still show big variations, but which represent smaller percentages.

The school case of interest has small samples ( of 13 or 16 successes) and this needs consideration as to whether this difference is meaningful, or possibly due to chance variations.

There is a routine statistical method of analysing such a situation. If applied to the case in question it shows that there is a significant (more than 10 %) possibility of the observed difference occurring by chance.

Hence it is not statistically justifiable to say that the difference has a ‘cause and effect’ explanation. It might have, but the statistics do not provide evidence.

JOD 11 January 2013

In Summary – the statistics cannot prove that the drop in pupils reaching the target had any cause at all.