Northern schools rank higher in 'fairer' league tables

New index shakes up school league tables by adding pupils' background into Progress 8 weighting
16th November 2020, 12:01am

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Northern schools rank higher in 'fairer' league tables

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/northern-schools-rank-higher-fairer-league-tables
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Schools in the North benefit most from new "fairer" league tables that take pupils' backgrounds into account when measuring their progress.

The Fairer School Index measures schools on an adjusted Progress 8 score, which includes factors such pupil poverty, long-term deprivation and their ethnicity and gender.

Using this performance measure boosts the performance of schools in the North and more than halves the higher pupil progress scores achieved by London schools, it has been revealed today.


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The index has been published today by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership group, with research carried out by the University of Bristol.

It compares the performance of schools in the official 2019 Progress 8 tables from the Department for Education with a new ranking under an adjusted Progress 8 score.

A 'fairer' way to judge schools?

Three-quarters of the schools that climb highest up the rankings in the Fairer School Index are in the North of England.

The partnership says the drop in London's Progress 8 scores in the new rankings is down in "large part to these schools teaching high proportions of students from ethnic groups, who, on average, nationally make strong progress."

In contrast, the "low average Progress 8 score seen in the North East improves substantially" after it is adjusted to take pupils' backgrounds into account. 

Analysis also shows that a fifth of schools saw their national league table position change by more than 500 places in either direction using the adjusted progress measure.

And almost half of the schools deemed to be under-performing under the official Progress 8 measure would not be in this category if the adjusted score was used.

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership said 46 per cent of schools judged "well below average" or "below average" under Progress 8 move up out of these bandings in the Fairer School Index.

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership said in its index grammar schools and faith schools saw high Progress 8 scores reduce substantially, and, in contrast, pupil progress in sponsored academies improved strongly "once the disadvantaged nature of their pupils is fully recognised".

The official Progress 8 score measures pupils' performance at GCSEs in eight subjects against their results at the end of primary school to give each secondary a score. 

The partnership said it believes Ofsted should be required to use its new adjusted measures, which take pupils' background into account, as part of the evidence used during school inspections. 

It said this could help to attract and retain the best teachers.

Sarah Mulholland, head of policy at the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: "The index should be published alongside the current school league tables in order to give a fairer, more accurate picture of school performance by taking into account factors which have a huge impact on education attainment.  

"By ignoring these realities, schools with poorer pupils but which are making real progress will nevertheless be ranked lower than they deserve, and vice versa.

"This will fail to hold to account schools which are under-performing in the context of pupil background, and learning will suffer as a result in wealthier areas both in the North through to the Home Counties."  

 

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