School tables ‘lack deprivation data’

Secondary school performance tables should be weighted to take more
account of social deprivation, MPs recommended last week.

Data on families on income support or the working families tax
credit should be included in calculations, according to a report by
the House of Commons public accounts committee. It adds that the
current reliance on eligibility for free school meals shows only
part of the picture.

Academic achievements may also be influenced by a school’s funding
levels, the condition of its buildings, and the jobs and education
of parents. The report says schools inspections body Ofsted should
give more weight to these factors.

MPs noted that, when the National Audit Office adjusted performance
figures, many schools moved from the bottom to the top 20 per cent,
while some in the top 20 per cent moved in the other

The report suggests that adjusting for such factors as deprivation
would also help the government measure the effectiveness of its
national education policies.

School standards minister David Milliband said “value added”
performance measures now took account of pupils’ improvement, but
the government wanted to “go even further with a new annual school
profile that will be easily accessible and give parents a broader
and deeper understanding of school performance”.

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