5 things primary governors should know about data. Part 2: data sources

In part 1 we dealt with statutory assessment – the data that the DfE collects from primary schools. In part 2 we’re going to look at the main sources of data that governors should be aware of: the key reports, when they’re made available, who has access, and what they contain. Here we will focus on four main sources: the Performance Tables, Analyse School Performance (ASP) system, Ofsted’s Inspection Data Summary Report (IDSR), and Fischer Family Trust (FFT) dashboards, plus a couple of other important points in the calendar.

1) Results day
Published first week in July
Availability: Secure NCA Tools website. Login required. No access for governors.
Schools receive pupils’ KS2 test scores via the NCA Tools website and a summary of results. Not in public domain

2) Checking exercise
Published 31st August/1st September
Availability: Secure Data Checking website. Login required. No access for governors.
Data checking website opens for schools to check and query results. Also contains pupils’ progress scores and summary sheet of all results to be shown in the performance tables. Not in public domain.


3) The Performance Tables
Published annually in December
Availability: Public domain. Requires no login.
Often referred to as the league tables, it is important to note that this is the only publicly available data source on the list. Information on most schools in England can be found here:


For secondary school data it is a fantastic resource, and contains nearly as much as ASP. For primary schools it is more limited and only contains data for key stage 2 (KS2). There is no school level data for early years foundation stage (EYFS), phonics (PSC), or key stage 1 (KS1) contained in the performance tables. 

It is also important to note that data is only released in the performance tables once it has been validated. After it has been collected, school data goes through a checking exercise in the autumn term to ensure it is a true reflection of a school’s results. Pupils may be discounted from results if they are recent arrivals from overseas for example, and these will be removed during the checking exercise. Also, a school may have had some test scripts successfully re-marked. All of these changes will be taken account of in the validated data, and this is why the DfE do not publish school data in the public domain until it is deemed ‘clean’. Even after this process, some schools may still find errors which can be corrected before data is finalised. The other (non-public) sources, detailed below, publish data prior to validation, during the autumn term (referred to as unvalidated data), and governors need to be aware that these reports may contain errors (which will be corrected in future releases).

The performance tables contain the following data for KS2
  • % attaining expected standard in reading, writing and maths (single combined measure)
  • % attaining higher standard in reading, writing and maths (single combined measure)
  • Average scaled scores (two separate measures)
  • Average progress scores in reading, writing and maths (three separate measures)
The school results are shown alongside the national and local authority figures in all cases except for progress (note: progress is a relative measure and schools are compared to 0. This will be explained in the next blog). The performance tables now contain the past 2 years results (2016 and 2017) for all key measures – scroll down to dropdown links below main results.

The performance tables also provide data for certain pupil groups: disadvantaged (pupils on free school meals in past 6 years (FSM6), looked after children (CLA/LAC), or pupils adopted from care), gender, prior attainment (low, middle, high prior attainment groups defined by pupils’ level at KS1), English additional language (EAL), and mobility (pupils that joined during years 5 or 6). There is no data for SEN pupils in the performance tables – they are included in overall figures but results are not shown for that group specifically. It is important that governors have an awareness of data for particular pupil groups, especially disadvantaged pupils, and this will be the subject of the final blogpost in this series.

The main page of performance tables is essential information for governors and it’s worth printing it out.

4) Analyse School Performance (ASP)
Published annually in October/November and updated with later released data (eg EYFSP and attendance) and validated data (December)
Availability: Secure site requiring login.
ASP replaced RAISEonline and is not publicly accessible. Governors can be granted access but – please take note – only to the anonymised version of the system, which contains no pupil-level data. It is a fairly simple system and, apart from extended data on pupil groups and individual subjects, it does not provide much more than the performance tables in terms of KS2 data. It does however contain results for EYFSP, phonics and KS1, and presents them in the familiar, performance tables-style format with national and LA comparators. From a governor point of view, ASP does not have a great deal to offer and governors are advised to focus more on the Ofsted Inspection Data Summary Report (IDSR). 

5) Inspection Data Summary Report
Published annually in October/November
Availability: Download via ASP. Login required.
The IDSR, which replaced the Ofsted Dashboard, is an inspector’s key source of school data and is therefore essential reading for governors. It is a PDF document downloaded from ASP and is not in the public domain. The front page of the report lists areas to investigate – which rather confusingly may be positive or negative statements – and shows if the school is below floor standards or deemed to be ‘coasting’. The following pages contain contextual information about the school including absence, exclusions, deprivation, numbers of pupils in certain key groups, and prior attainment of cohorts in reading, writing and maths.

The report shows a breakdown of progress and attainment (% attaining expected standards and higher standards) in reading, writing and maths at KS2. Scatter plots are used to reveal outliers. Results in grammar, punctuation and spelling tests, and science assessments at KS2 are also provided. Green and red boxes are drawn around data that is significantly above or below national average, although there is inconsistency here and governors should be aware that in some parts of the report this highlighting indicates that the school is in the top or bottom 10%, whereas elsewhere it does not (hint: read the small print). Statistical significance indicators are only used for KS2 progress data. A 3 year trend is provided for progress in each subject (based on school’s national ranking each year) but no trends are provided for KS1 or KS2 attainment (due to there only being 2 years of comparable data).

KS1 results (% attaining expected standards and greater depth) are presented in the same format as KS2. Note: KS1 data is attainment only; there are no progress measures for KS1 (although it does show a break down of KS1 attainment by start point (taken from EYFSP) which a sort of pseudo-progress measure). 

Phonics results (% attaining expected standard in Y1, and by the end of Y2) are shown as three year trends against national figures. IDSR also provides 2 pages of EYFSP outcomes and governors should pay particular attention to the percentage reaching a good level of development (GLD), which is also presented as a three year trend against national figures. One little quirk: on other pages of the IDSR, light blue bars indicate attainment of expected standards, and dark blue bars show attainment of higher standards. For EYFSP, light blue bars indicate the result for the whole cohort whilst dark blue bars are used for FSM pupils. 

In all cases, comparisons are made against national figures. Unlike in ASP and performance tables, local authority comparators do not feature in IDSR.

Data on performance of pupil groups is very limited in the IDSR. The report focusses on four key groups: disadvantaged pupils; and low, middle and high prior attainment pupils. At KS2. prior attainment is based on levels achieved at KS1 (low = below L2, middle = broadly L2, high = broadly L3). At KS1, prior attainment is based on development in the EYFSP and is defined as emerging, expected, or exceeding, but these can be viewed as low, middle and high prior attaining. 

To sum up, the IDSR is not the most user friendly report, but it is essential that governors are familiar with it. Schools need to devote time to IDSR training for governors.

6) FFT Dashboards
Published September and updated with validated data.
Availability: Secure site. Subscription to FFT required. Governor login available. 
FFT data is published earlier than other reports and is presented in a clear, accessible format, which makes it an attractive option for many schools. FFT dashboards provide analysis of KS1 and KS2 data; they do not provide analysis of phonics or EYFSP. FFT compare results to national figures (attainment) but they also compare them to an estimated outcome based on pupils’ start points (progress). This means that a low prior attaining cohort may have results that are below national average, but above the estimated outcome (low attainment. high progress). Equally, a high prior attaining cohort may have results that are above national average but below the estimated outcome(high attainment, low progress). FFT provide trends for both progress and attainment (they have converted pre-2016 results into ‘new money’), and indicate where results are significantly improving or declining, and where data is significantly above or below national average. Reports also show where the school ranks nationally for both attainment and progress. The overview page is particularly useful for governors, with its clear ‘speed dial’ format and table showing higher and lower performing groups in each subject. The pupil groups page is also extremely valuable in that it ranks groups in order of progress from lowest to highest – using a combined reading and maths progress measure – and provides red and green indicators to show if any group’s progress is significantly below or above average. This clarity is something that is missing from ASP. If your school has an FFT subscription, it’s definitely worth taking a look at FFT dashboards.

Coming up in the next blog…..

KS1-2 progress measures in reading, writing and maths are a critical part of the accountability machine, and it’s important that governors have some understanding of how they are calculated, what they mean, and what the flaws are in these measures. This is the subject of the next blog post. 
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James Pembroke

Data Analyst and Advisor with 15 years experience in primary, secondary and post-16 sectors. Follow me on Twitter: @jpembroke

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