24 January 2014
The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
Secretary of State for Education
Great Smith Street
Dear Mr Gove,
www.schoolperformancetables.com and our National Single Indicator
I am CEO of Software for Data Analysis (www.sda-ltd.com), the company presently responsible for publishing your Department’s school league tables.
I thought you would be interested to hear about the launch of our National Single Indicator of school performance, available at our own schoolperformancetables.com website. This is based on publicly available data and measures derived from the Department’s own league tables. We have slimmed down the data and combined what we think are the most important measures into a single, straightforward indicator which can be used to compare schools.
The indicator is formed from an amalgam of the expected progress measures; the main threshold level; pupils’ average point score; and the value added measure. It is computed for each school according to a proprietary algorithm designed with efficiency in mind (a full description of our methodology is appended).
By changing the weight attributed to each of these measures, the website allows parents – or other interested parties – to modify the measures’ relative importance according to the value that users place on them. This dynamically alters the overall result to give people their own “personal indicator” which means they can compare schools in a list tailored to their own specification. Another innovation, based on data now available through the coalition Government’s excellent “transparency” initiative, provides a search of all secondary schools by the subjects they offer, outside the core curriculum, allowing parents to further refine their requirements and preferences.
Finally, for now, schoolperformancetables.com will soon give schools the opportunity to contextualise all this information by providing their own commentary on their performance and the factors contributing to it.
As I have described, all this has been achieved using current information. However, by using our most sophisticated computing techniques – which I believe are second to none – I think we can go further still. If we can safely unlock more of the National Pupil Database (which is actually quite straightforward) we can provide a tool that will place choice and accountability squarely in the hands of parents while offering educators unsurpassed diagnostic and predictive capabilities. That is what we are working towards.
In the meantime I hope that you and the Department for Education find this information interesting and useful.