The results which appear in this special 60-page pull-out are the most comprehensive available of the 1997 primary school test results. The TES is the only newspaper, apart from The Times (January 27), to publish figures from every English local education authority. It is the only paper to publish teacher assessments and information about the number of children with special needs.
But the figures are controversial. Unlike last year, the Department for Education and Employment has not handled national publication, passing on responsibility instead to individual local authorities to publish their own school results. As a consequence, and in response to pressure from national news organisations, the Press Association has collated the information for all but seven authorities.
The remaining seven have been gathered by The TES.
Inevitably, as in the early stages of the DFEE's publication of secondary tables, there is the possibility of errors creeping in, despite exhaustive attempts to ensure accuracy. It now seems likely that when the 1998 results are published by local authorities, probably in November, the DFEE will itself pass on the data to national newspapers.
More controversial still, is the table of local authority averages (see below). This ranks authorities according to the average percentage achieved by the schools in their area. The validity of this method of ranking is disputed by some education officers and statisticians. They point out that when the Government published its own averages for the 1996 tests last year, they were calculated on the basis of the number of pupils in each authority who sat the tests. This, they argue, is a more accurate measure because the PA method gives undue weight to the results of smaller schools. At the same time, schools where fewer than 11 children sat the tests have been left out of the PA averages. In a number of cases, figures for local authorities vary by as much as 4 percentage points.
Despite reservations, The TES has decided to publish the table, because so far there are no official Government rankings.
These are now expected to be published next month.
The tables are not available on this database.