So which score do parents believe?

28th July 2006 at 01:00
I have just submitted my "school profile", the online document that has replaced the annual governors' report to parents. To do this you fill in a template, with word limits and sections on the key areas of interest.

Having drafted the first sections on "What have been our successes this year?", I clicked on the section, "How much progress do pupils make between 11 and 16?" only to discover it was automatically generated, and the content was beyond my control.

It used a measure of our school's achievement data lifted from the performance tablesPanda report and deposited it in this document.

The specific measure used was the AAT, the value-added measure based purely on prior attainment. The AAT figure of 1011.7 is described in our Panda report as "significantly above average" and represents a 16th percentile performance.

However, the diagram in the School Profile shows a large five-layered stack of statements ("Well Below Average" "Below Average" "Broadly Average" "Above Average" "Well Above Average") with a big arrow (labelled "our school") pointing to the 'Broadly Average' section.

The Department for Education and Skills' School Profile team has given me the following bandings:

* 1056.6 and above - well above average

* 1017.5-1056.5 - above average

* 969.5-1017.4 - broadly average

* 937.3 - 969.4 - below average

* 937.2 and below - well below average This suggests that at least 80 per cent of schools are "broadly average", given that 1011.7 is on the 16th percentile.

More significantly, though, there is a clear contradiction between the Panda judgement and the message to parents about the performance of our school.

Whatever we think about the use of performance data, surely there needs to be internal consistency at the DfES.

On reading the profile, parents will be confused by the contradictions between what is legitimately claimed in the early "free text" sections of the report and automatically generated sections. Some may conclude that the head and governing body are applying gloss to the report given that the imposing diagram seems objective.

I await a satisfactory response from the DfES.

Dr Stuart Jones


Edgecliff high school, Kinver

Stourbridge, West Midlands

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