Tony needs to alter his sights

30th May 2003 at 01:00
SO two-gun Tone is going to "take out" the heads of "failing" London schools. A very serious problem is the fact that many of the Department for Education and Skills performance indicators are statistically flawed. This applies especially to comparisons with "similar schools".

The best starting point for analysis would be a simple correlation chart for all London schools plotting GCSE performance against an intake attainment measure.

Intake scores from the National Foundation for Educational Research or similar standardised tests taken early in Year 7 would be best, but failing this key stage 2 test scores would have to do. Unlike the DfES value-added indicators this would enable clear comparisons to be made. I have reason to believe that not all the schools in Tony Blair's firing line would be below the regression line (to be expected on the basis of social deprivation and poor attendance). If the analysis were confined to pupils with attendance over 90 per cent then an even fairer picture would emerge. Is such data available? Are the heads concerned going to accept their "failing" label?

Roger Titcombe Pennington Cumbria

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