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We’re changing the way we present school and college results data this year – what you need to know about performance tables

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Colleges, Coronavirus, Schools

In July 2021 we announced that, with exams going ahead this year, we will publish GCSE, AS, A Level and technical qualifications performance data for 2021/22 at school and college level.

These are often referred to as league tables, although we don’t intend for them to be used in this way. They provide lots of information to parents about schools and colleges in their area to help them make informed choices.

But the effects of the pandemic are still being felt and we know that some schools and colleges have been affected in different ways to others. So we’re making some changes to the way we present data this year.

Here we answer your questions about performance data this year.

What data are you publishing?

The data will provide transparent and consistent information about what results were achieved at a school or college in 2021/22. It allows parents to see on a school-by-school or college-by-college basis how schools or colleges have performed.

COVID-19 had a significant impact on the education system and this disruption affected schools and pupils differently and because of this, it will make it more difficult to interpret why the results are as they are, using the data alone.

That’s why we strongly discourage people from drawing conclusions based on comparisons with performance data from earlier years, and based on direct comparisons with other schools’ or colleges’ performance data. We will also advise caution when comparing a school or college’s performance with national or local authority averages.

Does that mean you’re making changes to the way the data is presented?

Yes. In previous years the data has been presented in such a way as to allow users to directly compare schools or colleges. This year we discourage users from doing that as schools or colleges’ data may be affected by the uneven effects of the pandemic. That’s why we’re removing comparison tables and other functionality which allows users to directly compare providers from the website.

Why are you publishing data this year if it’s affected by the impacts of COVID?

With GCSE, A Level and technical qualifications returning, it is important we move back to publicly available data about exam results in a school or college, for transparency and as a starting point to support parents and students when choosing schools or post-16 institutions.

This is important as the most recent data available to the public is from 2018/19, which we know may no longer accurately represent a school or college’s current performance.

So when will the performance data be published and how will I be able to use the data?

Performance data will be published in October 2022 for secondary schools and February 2023 for 16-18 providers.

When making decisions on which school or college is right for them, parents and students should consider the data as part of the wider context and other information sources, in particular speaking to the school or college.

For example, if performance data shows that 35% of pupils in a school achieve a grade 5 or above in English and maths, when using the data you will want to consider – cautiously, and as a first step - how this figure relates to local and national averages for 2021/22, but without drawing firm conclusions solely on that basis.

The school’s figure then provides a starting point for discussion with the school. Talking to the school is a vital step to understand the broader context around this figure, and how it might have been impacted by the school and its pupils’ experience of the pandemic.

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