Education Datalab launch and report

Education Datalab is a new resource for evidence-based education that was launched by the Fischer Family Trust (FFT) in London this month.

Director Dr Rebecca Allen describes Education Datalab as bringing together “a group of expert researchers who all believe we can improve education policy by analysing large education datasets”. Education Datalab aims to “turn curiosity about education into quantitative analysis” and help schools by analysing open data such as the National Pupil Database.

The launch report Seven things you might not know about our schools includes pieces on Attainment 8, closing the pupil-premium gap, measuring pupil progress, and how women dominate the teaching profession yet men earn more.

Progress measures come under scrutiny in Why measuring pupil progress involves more than taking a straight line. Targets used to monitor pupil, teacher, and school progress assume linear progress and label learners as on track or off target. Evidence from Education Datalab suggests that such assumptions are incorrect as data show that fewer than one out of ten children make linear progress through Key Stages 2 to 4.

“Invisible” pupils not considered for Pupil Premium

In England, Pupil Premium (PP) funding is provided for pupils who, on the national school census return (collected termly since 2006/07), are recorded as having been eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) at any point during the previous six years (Ever 6). However, new research, published by FFT Education, has identified an “invisible group” of pupils, whose attainment and progress may also have been negatively affected by disadvantage but who do not qualify for PP funding.

The report’s author examined the attainment and progress of pupils who fall outside Ever 6, but who had qualified for FSM at an earlier time. This is a substantial number of pupils. In 2013 the Year 11 cohort in England included over 38,000 pupils who had received FSM at some point, but not in the previous six years. He found that the attainment and progress of this “invisible group” was much lower than those who have never received FSM. Other findings included that the proportion of time for which a pupil is FSM while at school is likely to be the best indicator of the potential impact of disadvantage upon attainment and progress.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including considering basing the PP on FSM “ever” (rather than Ever 6), and taking into account the amount of time an individual pupil has qualified for FSM. Independently of this, schools could consider whether pupils who have previously been FSM, but not in the previous six years, are in need of additional support.

Source: Pupil Premium and the Invisible Group (2014) FFT Education.