5 things primary governors should know about data. Part 4: headlines and trends

This is fourth part in a series of five blog posts for primary governors. Part 1 covered statutory assessment, part 2 dealt with sources of data, and part 3 explained the progress measures. Here, we will look at the headline measures governors need to be aware of.

Inspection Data Summary Report (IDSR) Areas to investigate
This is an important place to start. The IDSR lists your school’s strengths and weaknesses (under the banner of ‘areas to investigate’), as well as information relating to floor standards and coasting, on its front page and governors definitely need to have sight of this. The list of areas to investigate is not exhaustive – your school no doubt has more strengths that those listed (and possibly more weaknesses).

Early Years Foundation Stage
Key measure: % achieving a good level of development
As explained in part 1, pupils at the end of reception are assessed as ’emerging’, ‘expected’ or ‘exceeding’ in each of the 17 early learning goals (ELGs). If a pupil reaches the expected level of development (i.e. assessed as expected or exceeding) in the 12 main ELGs, this is described as a ‘good level of development’ (GLD). Our first key measure is therefore:

  • % achieving a good level of development at end of reception

This data is not available in the performance tables (i.e. is not in public domain) but can be found in Analyse School Performance (ASP), where the school’s result is shown against both LA and national figures; and in Ofsted’s IDSR, which shows a 3 year trend against national figures. Pay attention to the trend: is it going up or down and how does the school compare to national. Always consider the context when comparing the results of different cohorts.

Phonics in year 1 (with possible retake in year 2)
Key measure: % attaining the expected standard
The phonics check is carried out in year 1 and if a pupil does not achieve the pass mark – which, since its inception in 2012, has been 32 words correctly decoded out of 40 – then they take it again in year 2. The key measures that governors should be aware of are:

  • % attaining expected standard in year 1
  • % attaining expected standard by end of year 2
Note: % attaining expected standard by end year 2 takes the whole cohort into account, not just those that retake in year 2. 

Again, this data is not in the public domain. ASP provides a comparison against LA and national figures for year 1 results only (no ‘end of year 2′ measure’) and does not provide a trend; IDSR shows a 3 year trend against national figures. Again, note how the school compares to national, and whether or not standards are improving. Again, always take context into account when looking at trends.

Key Stage 1
Key measures: % attaining expected standard, % attaining greater depth
KS1 assessment, made at the end of year 2, is mainly focussed on reading, writing and maths (but don’t completely ignore science!). Pupils can be assessed as ‘below’ or ‘pre-key stage’ if they are below the standard of the curriculum, but the vast majority of pupils are either working towards the expected standard, working at expected standards, or working at greater depth. The key measures that governors should be aware of are as follows:
  • % attaining expected standards or above in reading, writing and maths (3 separate measures)
  • % attaining greater depth in reading writing and maths (3 separate measure)
Unlike at KS2 where the DFE produce a single, combined result for reading, writing and maths (see below), here they are kept separate. However, if your school uses FFT you can get a combined result for KS1 (i.e. the dashboards show % pupils attaining expected standards in all three subjects). 

ASP provides us with percentages attaining expected standards in each subject (3 measures) and the same for greater depth; and school results are compared against LA and National figures. Note if your school is above or below these comparators, but make sure you consider prior attainment of pupils (based on EYFS outcomes) when you do this. For this reason, IDSR is more useful because it breaks the results down by prior attainment, namely emerging (low), expected (middle), and exceeding (high), thus providing useful context.

Governors should at least be aware of percentages attaining expected standards and greater depth in reading, writing and maths at KS1, how those results compare to national figures (note that IDSR will indicate if results are in top or bottom 10% nationally), and whether or not they have improved on the previous year. Neither IDSR nor ASP currently provide trend data for KS1, due to there being only two years of comparable data, but you can view and download previous year’s data from ASP if you have access. We can compare 2017 to 2016 results but please ensure you consider context of cohorts (e.g. prior attainment, SEND, EAL etc) when doing this. 

The FFT KS1 dashboard does provide previous year’s data, and the overview page can be particularly insightful. It provides a combined reading, writing and maths result for both expected standards and greater depth, displayed as neat, easy to understand speed dial. Unlike ASP and IDSR, the data will indicate if results are significantly above or below national average (green or red dot), and will also show if results are significantly improving or declining (up or down arrow). The right hand side of the report shows how the school’s KS1 results compare to estimated outcomes based on pupils’ start points (using EYFS data). This is a form of progress measure, and it will reveal if results are above ‘expected’ despite being below national, or below ‘expected’ despite being above national, depending on pupils development at the end of foundation stage. 

Key Stage 2
Key measures: % attaining expected and high standards, average scaled scores, progress scores, floor and coasting standards
Let’s face it: there are a lot of measures at KS2. The key measures that school’s have to display on their websites (and that are shown in the public performance tables) are a good place to start:
  • % attaining expected standard in reading, writing and maths combined*
  • % attaining the higher standard in reading, writing and maths combined**
  • Average progress in reading
  • Average progress in writing
  • Average progress in maths
  • Average scaled score in reading
  • Average scaled score in maths
* score of 100+ in reading and maths test and expected standard in writing
** score of 110+ in reading and maths test and greater depth in writing

Unlike EYFS, phonics, and KS1 data, which is not in the public domain, the KS2 data listed above is neatly presented on the main page of the performance tables for each school, and governors are advised to be aware of this. The school results are shown alongside LA and national figures, and previous years’ results are now available (just 2016 at time of writing) for comparison. Again, context of cohorts needs to be taken into account when evaluating performance over time. 

The DfE does not categorise attainment data (i.e. do not indicate if it is significantly above or below average – you’ll need FFT reports for that information) but the IDSR will show if results are in the top or bottom 20% nationally (this will be stated on the front page as an ‘area to investigate’). Progress scores, however, are categorised (in both ASP and performance tables) as follows:
  • Well above average (dark green): progress is significantly above average and in top 10% nationally
  • Above average (light green): progress is significantly above average but not in top 10%
  • Average (yellow): progress is broadly in line with national average
  • Below average (orange): progress is significantly below average but not in bottom 10%
  • Well below average (red): progress is significantly below average and in bottom 10%
It is vital that governors are aware of their school’s progress category for each subject, and most importantly are able to discuss progress in broad terms, particularly issues that have resulted in low progress scores, or what has led to high scores.

As at KS1, FFT’s KS2 reports show if attainment and progress is significantly above or below average (green and red dots) and indicate if standards have significantly improved or declined (up and down arrows). Again, the overview page of the FFT governor dashboard is incredibly useful as for quick reference. 

Other KS2 headlines that governors should know about are:
  • Floor standards: is your school below floor or has it been in the past? (see IDSR front page)
  • Coasting: similar to floor standards but over 3 years. Is your school defined as coasting? (again, see IDSR front page)
  • Absence: it’s not an academic measure but it’s vital we know about school’s overall and persistent absence figures, how they compare to national and if they are going up or down
There are of course other KS2 measures including percentages attaining expected and higher standards in individual subjects. It may be that the combined result is low due to underperformance in all subjects or just one, and it’s important that we investigate this. Also, don’t ignore science and grammar, punctuation and spelling (GPS/SPaG), results for which can be found in IDSR. Also note that FFT dashboards show progress data for grammar, punctuation and spelling, and – as for other subjects – indicate if results are improving or declining.

This is a lot to take in and governors cannot be expected to carry all this information around in their heads. Focus on the headline measures in the bullet point lists above; be aware of how results relate to national figures, and whether or not those results are improving.

And, of course, we also need to know the performance of key groups of pupils, and that’s the subject of the last post in this series. 

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