Schoolzone blog: Can we spot Outstanding potential?

Can we spot Outstanding potential?
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28 April 2015

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Good schools want to be Outstanding schools, so can they predict, based on their performance, whether they are likely to be promoted by Ofsted during the next inspection?

The new accountability measures make more of progress and value added scores. You might expect that Ofsted therefore would place similarly high importance on value added performance and that schools which move from Good to Outstanding would show recent improvements in VA scores.

We decided to test this hypothesis with our Educational Intelligence (EI) data, by looking at all the schools which moved from Good to Outstanding during 2013-14.

First we collected a list of all such schools, then we gathered their Value Added measures based on the best 8 GCSE and equivalent results for the years 2011 to 2014.

Then we analysed them to see if, generally, these schools had improving VA scores in the years leading up to the inspection which generated the promotion.

What EI tells us

Only slightly more than half of schools moving from Good to Outstanding, have improved their VA score in the year before. Of these schools, only half had shown an increase in the year before.

In fact, only one in five schools moving from Good to Outstanding show consistent improvement in VA scores over the three years prior to inspection.

A similar proportion show a decline in each of the three previous years.

Across all schools moving from Good to Outstanding, there is a small increase (2.3 in fours - see image above), however, it's less than the increases shown across all schools.

These schools do consistently have higher VA scores than average, but they weren't improving, before they moved to Outstanding.

Of course, Ofsted isn't here to support the government's agenda, but surely if the VA measures and Ofsted were both accurately monitoring the "success" of schools, there would be a stronger correlation between them.

This is slightly alarming for schools as the new P8 measure is introduced (new government permitting) - schools can't measure their progress during KS3 and KS4 as there is nothing to measure against. Yet Ofsted expect schools to able to measure progress during this period, but even if schools could, how will they know what is enough progress, based on their KS2 intake - and. given the above - how does Ofsted know?

The whole system is a mess: P8 is probably a good idea, but without NC levels or any other reliable means to monitor progress, it's almost pointless, especially if P8, like VA, doesn't actually relate to Ofsted ratings.


Research note: We've only looked at newly Outstanding schools here, and VA data is only available for a small span of years: a wider range of Ofsted ratings, with VA data over a longer period, during which VA is more consistently measured, would be more reliable, but this is a blog, not a dissertation! (If someone would like to fund us to run a more thorough study, we'd be happy to do so...)






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