Blackminster's Data Dashboard - important points to note.
Ofsted introduced the Schools' Data Dashboard on February 27th 2013. Sir Michael Wishaw, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools, announced in a speech at the Policy Exchange "This is an online tool which will be submitted to Chairs of Governors and headteachers providing a clear picture of how the school is performing in relation to similar schools with the same intake profile". Whilst we applaud the aims of the dashboard and welcome accountability and scrutiny of our work, the Data Dashboard contains a number of significant issues for our school which mean that our Dashboard needs to come with a health warning.
First of all, the Dashboard claims to compare our results to those of 110 "similar schools". However, only 3 of these 110 are Middle Schools - the others are all Primary or Junior Schools. This has significant effects on, for example, our attendance data. Over the whole country, average attendance at Primary Schools is higher than at Secondary schools. However, the Dashboard compares our attendance to Primary schools, even though two thirds of our intake is students of Secondary school age. The Data Dashboard therefore shows Blackminster's attendance as being low in comparison to these Primary schools, whereas if it was compared to the national average for Secondary schools it would be well above the average. Indeed Ofsted's own inspectors, in our November 2013 report, wrote "Attendance is above average and the proportion of pupils who are persistently absent has reduced".
It's also important to note that when collecting data on students' prior attainment (ie their scores in Key Stage 1 assessments), the Dashboard disregards cohorts with fewer than five students - this therefore means that information from several of our smaller feeder First Schools is ignored. Again, this all contributes to an inaccurate picture of Blackminster's performance.
The inappropriate comparison with other schools also affects our position in the Progress Measures tables. Students come to us in September and take their SATs exams in May, having only been with us for two terms. It therefore gives an inaccurate impression when comparing Blackminster to Primary schools. Ofsted inspectors acknowledged this in their November 2013 report, when they wrote "National tests show that Year 6 pupils have usually made less progress than expected nationally in English and mathematics in Key Stage 2. However, this is misleading because pupils only spend their final year of the key stage at Blackminster Middle, and make consistent and sustained progress during their three years at the school. By the time pupils reach the end of Year 8 they have made exceptional progress in mathematics and good progress in English. School data show that the majority of pupils are working at higher levels of attainment than those expected nationally for their age" - so even Ofsted's own inspectors disagree with the conclusions presented by the Dashboard!
If you have any questions about our students' results or progress, please do contact us. We will be delighted to share our information and evidence with you.
OFSTED Report 2013
OFSTED Report 2011
OFSTED Report 2009
OFSTED Report 2007
OFSTED Report 2004