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Assessment - Comparisons
Using the Data
Comparing available data is a key way to evidence the excellent achievement of pupils, celebrate staff hard work and is highly valued by parents selecting their child’s schools. This published data is downloadable from: www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk and is free and available to all. The data contained here is the full-dataset from all schools in the country. It is possible to filter this data further to undertake direct comparisons with certain schools, and with certain categories of schools.
All the following data in this document is from the qualifications taken by Year 11 pupils in Summer 2022.These qualifications were the first for 3 years to be externally assessed under pre-pandemic practices, albeit with additional support measures in place. Due to Covid-19, there has also not been data of this type available to schools for the past 3 years. This has led to gaps in year on year comparisons, and has made it challenging recently to know how well schools are doing compared to other similar schools.
The Department for Education have even gone so far as to state the following:
Woodlane is not ignoring this advice by producing this report, but is doing so as a way to celebrate and showcase the progress made in the school’s recovery from Covid-19.
There are a number of reasons why SEND schools do not always find school’s published data useful, including the challenges of comparing an SEND cohort with mainstream peers. However, Woodlane is often seen to bridge the gap between mainstream and SEND, offering a high number of GCSE and equivalent level qualifications in a supportive and nurturing environment. Therefore these comparisons have worth to the school when they are conducted with care using similar schools and are transparent in both the successes and areas for improvement.
The most realistic comparison is with schools with an identical setup. Woodlane is a local authority maintained SEND school, (described as Community SEND Schools in this comparison) so schools that are within this category and who cater for the same age ranges as Woodlane are used below. This leaves a comparison with 362 schools in the UK. The last time this analysis was able to completed, (with pre-pandemic data from 2018/19), there were 421 schools in this category. The data below shows how the number of Community SEND schools has continued to fall year on year. This is an impact of a range of factors, including academisation and greater inclusion in mainstream secondaries.
Woodlane’s published scores for 2021/22 are as follows:
Progress 8: -1.35 (improved from -1.72 in 2018/19)
Attainment 8: 13.1 (improved from 8.6 in 2018/19)
These published scores show significant progress from previous years and cohorts. The school continues to push for outstanding achievement, despite the known challenges of the last few years. Qualification options are wide, pupil engagement is high and the curriculum is robust, offering depth and adding value. Compared to the last available data, a 0.4 increase in Progress 8 and a 4.5 increase in Attainment 8 are rightly celebrated.
The following table demonstrates the Progress 8 and Attainment 8 scores over time.
Although there is some fluctuation in the data above, commonly seen due to the small cohort sizes and differing needs, there is a significant improvement on the pre-pandemic data. The only time Progress 8 or Attainment 8 scores were better, was prior to the major overhaul of the GCSE programmes of study which lead to the dip seen in 2016/17. This is a significant cause for celebration.
Progress 8 is a score that shows how much progress pupils have made between the end of key stage 2 and the end of key stage 4. These pupils are compared with their peers across England who achieved similar results at the end of that key stage.
The Progress 8 score is determined by how well pupils perform in up to 8 qualifications, which include; English, Maths, 3 English Baccalaureate qualifications including Science, Computer Science, History, Geography and Languages, as well as 3 other approved qualifications. Not all qualifications offered at Woodlane are approved under the Progress 8 Performance Tables. This score is more significant as a measure for mainstream provisions. However, if used with caution it can be useful for SEND too.
If the school uses the Progress 8 score and ranks Community SEND schools across the whole of the UK, Woodlane is the 15th highest performing school of it’s type. This places the school well within the top 5% nationally.
When comparing Progress 8 scores across the national picture over the past 5 years of available data, Woodlane is almost always within the top 5% nationally, usually comfortably so.
Similar to Progress 8 (above), the Attainment 8 score is determined by how well pupils perform in up to 8 qualifications, although it does not take in to account the pupil’s start point (KS2) and their value-added progress. This score can be used as an indicator of the range of qualifications on offer, the recognition given to these qualifications and pupil’s success when completing them.
Using Woodlane’s Attainment 8 score of 13.1, the school is ranked 18th nationally, moving further up the national ranking and within the top 5%.
Exploring these scores over time, it has not always been possible for the school to break the top 5%, although this is the case this year. When not making the top 5% of schools, in 2018/19 this was by 1 place, and in 2017/18 it was only by 3 places showing that the school has never been far outside the top 5% of schools.
Medical and Mental Health Provision
It should be noted that the scores above may differ from previous figures the school has presented. This is due to the school previously adjusting Progress 8 and Attainment 8 scores due to the inclusion of pupils attending the Medical Needs Unit which shared the same site. The rationale and evidence was shared through the school website for transparency.
Pupils on roll at Woodlane due to their learning difficulties or SEND historically achieve within the range 1 to -1.5. Whilst MNU pupil Progress 8 scores have historically fallen within the range -2 to -5. These differences in a small cohort significantly impact the overall school progress score.
In previous years the school adjusted the Progress 8 published scores by separating these in to ‘Main School’ and ‘Medical Needs Unit’, with the argument that pupils joining the school as part of the separate unit studied a significantly different curriculum, did not commonly have an EHCP/Statement, entered with often significantly higher attainment, and it was therefore not a fair comparison.
With the change recommended by Ofsted (2019) and agreed by the local authority, Governors and staff, there is now an integrated approach to medical and mental health provision. Pupils are fully involved in the life of the school and follow the same curriculum, differentiated to meet there needs. We now compare the whole cohort, with the whole published data with no adjustment required to the figures.
Due to the way progress tables are calculated, they do not account for the breadth and depth of qualifications on offer at Woodlane. The school offers Entry Level, Functional Skills courses and Unit Award Schemes, outside of the GCSE and BTEC programmes. The only qualification entries for which this analysis is based on, are those that the DfE consider comparable nationally.
Download the attached document for further information and analysis.
If you are a school who wishes to conduct some comparisons of internal or external data, please get in touch through the school email address or telephone number.