Think of a number

Even Johnny Ball, who presented Think Of A Number couldn't work this one out

Even Johnny Ball, who presented Think Of A Number, couldn't work this one out!

Roll up, roll up, it’s time to have some FUN with figures!

Yes folks, here are some crazy statistics about how well / badly Leicester’s 11-year-olds’ s have done in their Sats this year.

Make sure you’re sitting down… it’s going to be EXCITING!

Let’s begin. Every year, the figures generally reported by the TV and press are the percentages of children who have reached the expected level four in each of English, maths and science.

This year, for Leicester, that is English 75%, which is a decrease of one, maths 76% up 2, and science 85%, up 2.

This compares with national averages of 80%, 79%, and 85%.

It also means Leicester is 130th out of 152 local authorities. Up from 132nd the year before. (Further complicated by the fact that, due to boundary changes, there were 150 local authorities last year but goodness me, let’s not get started on that.)

Have we all understood so far? What do we conclude?

Is it good news? Leicester is up across the board. Leicester bucks the national trend because its maths and science showing improved. Leicester has gone up two places in the league table. Well done Leicester!

Or is it bad news? Despite the millions being spent, the proportion of children reaching the expected level in English has gone down. Boo! Leicester has only gone up two places, when really it should have been more. There are still 129 areas of the country getting better results than Leicester.

As you can imagine, this makes trying to write the news story rather difficult.

I was just trying to get my head round these figures by lunch time yesterday but, brace yourself, here comes the city council’s press release:

City’s SAT results continue to improve

Provisional Key Stage 2 results published today for 11 year olds show that Leicester City continues to be successful in its drive to raise standards, in spite of a drop nationally.

The percentage of pupils achieving the expected level 4 or higher in both English and maths is 68% – up 1% on last year’s final results.

If results follow the usual pattern of a further 1% increase for the city between the publication of provisional figures and final scores, the overall improvement for Leicester schools is likely to be 2%.

Cllr Vi Dempster, Cabinet member for schools said: “When the final results are published later in the year we expect them to show a 2% increase on last year’s figures, which compares well to the national average drop by 1%, based on current data.”

What?! BOTH English and maths?! The little rascals!

It’s understandable that they want to put the best spin on the results and, of course, ideally getting both English and maths is preferable to getting either one or the other. The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) does publish this statistic  – and it’s clearly useful to education officials who analyse the data – but publishing this figure, particularly at the expense of the straight English, maths, science percentages, doesn’t help parents’ understanding.

What it did do was to prompt me to delve further into this particular set of statistics  (this new BOTH English AND maths one, please keep up) which was also made available for all authorities by the DCSF.

The 68% quoted by the city council is broken down by the DCSF into boys’ and girls’ pass rates.

(Just when you thought this tale couldn’t get any more exciting…)

The proportion of girls getting to level four is 72% – admirably up from 69% (HOORAY!), but the boys’ percentage is 64% – down from 66% (BOO!)

Bad news for boys. And considering the concerted effort that’s been going on to target boys particularly, it’s disappointing.

But good news for girls!

So the conclusion?

I haven’t the foggiest.

About Ian

A journalist working in Brussels
This entry was posted in Education analysis, Read all about it and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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