Data’s Inferno

Scene opens in dark and dusty office in the DfE’s data bunker deep within the core of a dormant volcano somewhere around the Pacific rim. A phone rings.

and rings.

and rings.

Eventually it is answered by a man wearing a boiler suit and a hard hat.

DfE: “Hello. DfE Data Bunker. How can I help?”

HT: “Hello, I’m a new primary headteacher and I have a few questions about data”

DfE: “Well, you’ve come to the right place. Fire away.”

HT: “It’s about the primary assessment gateway”

DfE: “Ah, yes. The one-stop-shop for all things primary assessment. You’re in for a treat.”

HT: “Sorry, what?”

DfE: “Nothing. Carry on”

HT: “Well, I’ve looked at the list of services and there appears to be a few things missing.”

DfE: “Really? Are you sure? Like what?”

HT: “Well, I can see I can access test materials for phonics, KS1 and KS2”

DfE: “Yes. It’s good isn’t it?”

HT: “And I can upload KS2 teacher assessments.”

DfE: “Yes. It covers all bases. Was there anything else?”

HT: “What about KS1 teacher assessments?”

DfE: “What about them?”

HT: “Well, I can upload those too, right?”

DfE: “Ah, about that.”

HT: “about what?”

DfE: “You send those to the LA”

HT: “I send the KS2 teacher assessments to you but the KS1 assessments to the LA?”

DfE: “Yes”

HT: “and Phonics results”

DfE: “LA”

HT: “EYFSP to the LA as well by any chance?”

DfE: “You’re getting the hang of this.”

HT: “and the results? I get the KS2 results from the primary assessment gateway?”

DfE: “Yes”

HT: “and other results, too?”

DfE: “No.”

HT: “What? Where do I get those from?”

DfE: “Well, you already have those”

HT: “But the national figures?”


(muffled shouting)

DfE: “Dave says you get them from ASP”

HT: “Is that in the primary assessment gateway?”


(muffled shouting)

DfE: “Dave says no. You’ll need to log in to DfE sign-in”

HT: “and that’s different?”

DfE: “Very”

HT: “and the national figures are available straightaway I assume? Please don’t ask Dave”

DfE: “Well, not straightaway exactly?”

HT: “when then?”

DfE: “October maybe?”

HT: “Maybe?”

DfE: “November definitely”

HT: “Can’t I get them earlier than that?”

DfE: “Yes, of course. From Perspective.”

HT: “Is that accessible via the primary assessment gateway”

DfE: “Gosh no. Perspective is nothing to do with us. But your LA might provide access.”

HT: “What if they don’t?”

DfE: “FFT run an early results service”

HT: “and if I don’t subscribe?”

DfE: “then November. Definitely”

HT: (loud sigh) “OK. What about the reception baseline? Dare I ask if that can be accessed via the primary assessment gateway?”

DfE: “I’m afraid not. Separate system.”

HT: “Multiplication Tables Check?”

DfE: “Would you believe that that is also a separate system?”

HT: “Tables Checking?”

DfE: “The what?”

HT: “The tables checking exercise in September.”

DfE: “You’ll never guess…”

HT: “So let me recap. The primary assessment gateway is the place go for all things primary assessment unless it involves EYFSP, phonics, KS1, MTC, RBA, tables checking, or ASP?”

DfE: “Well, almost.”

HT: “Almost?”

DfE: “You forgot the IDSR.”

(the sound of telephone being smashed to pieces followed by dial tone. Scene fades to black)

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6 thoughts on “Data’s Inferno

  1. Sue Parkes
    on April 13, 2023 at 5:04 pm

    Excellent summing up of the craziness!

  2. Angela O'Hara
    on April 14, 2023 at 10:12 am

    Brilliant !! Spot on. Thanks James !

  3. WiganWilson
    on April 16, 2023 at 8:18 am

    Thanks for the Data Inferno post deregulation of assessment data processing and reporting is like platting fog.

  4. Jane Hemery
    on April 17, 2023 at 12:47 pm

    A perfect summary. Unbelievable and nonsensical but totally true.

  5. Liam
    on July 2, 2023 at 10:52 am

    An absolute shambles- how complicated can it be???

    A tenuously connected query-will you be producing another Primary Results Tool (for 2023)? The 2022 one was a godsend 🙂

    1. James Pembroke
      on July 4, 2023 at 7:42 am

      I’ve already set up a 2023 results tool but obviously not populated with this years figures because we don’t have them yet. I’ll email it to you.

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