luton

What if this years rules had applied to the last 3 years Luton school league tables?

This summer’s GCSE results will be the first to be league tabled under new rules put forward in the Wolf Review:

“vocational awards do still qualify but no qualification can count for more than one GCSE (instead of being equivalent to 2 or 4) and only two vocational qualifications are allowed to be included in 5A*-C including E&M”

Henry Stewart from the Local Schools Network has put a FOI into the DfE for the data showing how results from the past three years would look judged against this forthcoming criteria.

I’ve copied and pasted the data for the Luton schools from those spreadsheets and added the full 5A*-C E&M (including equivalents) from the DfE performance table website.

luton schools 2013

 

luton schools 2012

luton schools 2011

 

There is a fairly clear trend as the “gap” between the headline measure and the WOLF measure narrows across the schools in the 3 years to 2013. This direction of travel is a definitive positive as overall pass rates have remained high as the curriculums have become broader which, in turn, will mean that more Luton school leavers will have a wider range of Post 16 options available to them and be more likely to succeed on those pathways. It also means that the schools have the curriculum offers in place to be much better positioned for the bigger change to the league tables due to happen in 2016 with the introduction of Progress and Attainment 8.

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The stories told and not told by school Destination data

A common theme throughout all of the recent commentary on the state of CEIAG in schools has been that the publication of Destination statistics for all schools is a ‘good thing.’ In the modern world, the argument goes, transparency of outcomes for schools should not just rely on qualifications gained by students but on the stability and suitability of the progress those students then make in their first steps beyond the school gates.

With this in mind I wanted to post something concentrating purely on the Destination Data of my own school’s leavers to show how this does and does not offer insight when looking at figures on a school size level.

I’ll be using 4 sets of Destination data to give some context.

Firstly, there is the data currently on the DfE performance tables website. This relates to our 2009/10 leavers.

Second, is the data for the 2010/2011 cohort that is due to be published on the performance table site in June.

So, what to notice between those two? The trend in our numbers to FE seem to be falling while the numbers to Sixth Form College are rising, Apprenticeships are steady and “Destinations not sustained” are falling. The FE and Sixth Form trends have the biggest swing in numbers so could tell the story of a more definitive trajectory. The Apprenticeships and Not Sustained numbers are pleasing but I’m wary of hanging out the bunting because, as you can see from the second table, the numbers of students involved are small. One or two students either way and those percentages alter significantly.

A hugely important factor to bear in mind is that this data is based not on a snapshot but on an extended time period. As the guidance tells us Participation is determined as enrollment for “the first two terms (defined as October to March) of the year after the young person left KS4″ and not sustained destinations are defined as  “young people who had participated at an education destination during the academic year but did not complete the required six months participation.” There is much to commend on the longer term measurement being used here which does more thoroughly test a school’s CEIAG legwork to suitably place their students post KS4. A negative consequence of this more considered approach though is the sheer amount of time that has to be allowed before publication to let the students travel through the system. The most recent set of data above covers students who left us 3 years ago. 3 years can be a lifetime of change in a school with new initiatives, new curriculum, staff turnover, Leadership changes, new priorities and events so to use this to judge that school in the here and now seems to be a little redundant.

The third set of data for our 2011/2012 cohort is from our Local Authority, who, alongside their Youth Service partners, work their way through enrollment lists, phone calls and house visits to get all of the stats which the DfE then utilise in future.

The first thing to notice is that some of the Destination terms are not the same. This immediately causes issues in comparison. Compared to the first two sets of data, the trend away from FE routes and towards Sixth Form (not differentiated between School Sixth Form and Sixth Form College here) reduces but continues. The NEET category (not known in the DfE data) is pleasing again (with the same caveat as above) while the Part Time Education numbers are odd and appear towards the larger end of the local spread (more about this below) but they lead to another concern; any conclusions we draw are only as sound as the data collection and entry job that went before them.

The biggest difference in the data sets is that the Local Authority data is a snap shot taken on the 1st of November 2012, just a few short weeks after the GCSE results. If published then, the immediacy of this data could provide interested parties such as Ofsted or parents much more reactive numbers on which to judge local secondary schools but this immediacy could also cause problems. Any snap measurement could offer a warped view of a reality that would produce very different data if captured on a different date (were the statistics exactly the same on the 2nd of November?) and perhaps not highlight gradual drop out as those learners went through the first term of their KS5 routes. To combat this and to show trends the Authority repeat the exercise in the following April with the same year group and the results of this follow up snapshot for the 2012 leavers are in the columns on the right below.

Clearly the largest change between the November and April is the Part time Education number now reads zero and the number of Apprenticeships has jumped by the same number to 12. How much of this change can be attributed to data entry decisions or to the steady progress of our leavers securing Apprenticeships in the year school would only be known to those with local knowledge of our alumni. It’s a tale not told in the stats.

So, what can we learn from all this data?

1) The considered publication timeframe on the DfE performance tables has both good and bad sides for judging school performance

2) When you drill down to school level, the numbers of actual students involved moving from category to category can be small enough so that only a few students fluctuating between them can significantly impact the percentages

and that

3) Trends in destination growth or reduction for different routes can only be properly identified with multiple data sets over a longer period

If Ofsted and stakeholders such as parents are to get the most out of Destination data in its current form, a considered and measured view and a desire to understand the stories behind the figures really will be required.

 

2013 Luton Destination Statistics: Less 16 and 17 Year Olds in full time outcomes

 

Continuing an intermittent series of posts concentrating on the Destination data of Luton school leavers (previous posts here and here), this post looks at the number of 16 & 17 year olds in Luton who were in full time education or employment in December 2013.

At this time 4,940 16 & 17 year olds were known to the Local Authority and of these 88.2% were in full-time outcomes. This is a fall of 3.3% against December 2012 and the only fall in participation in the Eastern Region and compared to a national figure of 89.8%. This regression is also disappointing compared to the positive news across the country as Local Authorities and schools move to comply with the Raising the Participation age legislation.

Of those learners only 1.4% were in an Apprenticeship route, the second lowest in the Eastern Region (behind Southend) which shows that while awareness of this route is growing, the gap between positions sought and those acquired is still huge. 84.1% were still in full-time education.

Delving deeper it’s clear where the fall in participation can be attributed. At 16 both girls and boys show healthy figures for participation (95.8% and 96.6% respectively)  but at 17 something happens and the figures drop to 82.2% for girls and 78.3% for boys. This is the worst 17-year-old boys participation rate in the Eastern Region. There could be a number of reasons for this; students are signing up to unsuitable courses to begin with (aka the Careers advice is poor), the safety nets to stop them dropping out of Key Stage 5 provision are weak or the provisions themselves do not possess the strength to keep them enticed in the first place. It’s a conundrum that needs solving.

Luton Destination Statistics: Where are our students going? – Part 2 – The characteristics bite back

As a follow-up to the new Destination Measures statistics that are now on the Dfe performance table website

(data for Luton High Schools here: http://www.education.gov.uk/cgi-bin/schools/performance/group.pl?qtype=GR&f=aPbFiP1mS1&superview=sec&view=pupdest&sort=l.schname&ord=asc&no=998&pg=1 )

and a previous blog about them here: https://fecareersiag.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/luton-destination-statistics-where-are-our-students-going/

further data has now been released that distills from those figures the destinations for students who were eligible for Free Schools Meals (FSM), Special Educational Needs (SEN), Gender and by Ethnicity.

Here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/destinations-of-key-stage-4-and-key-stage-5-pupils-by-characteristics-academic-year-2010-to-2011

Before I do some amateur analysis it’s worth saying that for FSM & SEN data I won’t be comparing statistics at school level. There are two reasons for this:

1) The numbers of students in these categories are very small so, in some cases, just a difference of a few students can dramatically affect the percentage output. Of course this won’t stop some drawing conclusions but when the dataset is so tiny it can throw up outlying and disparate results very easily. I’ve discussed that happening here:

http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=260575872&gid=3841751&commentID=152580024&goback=%2Enpv_189713643_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1&trk=NUS_DISC_Q-subject#commentID_152580024

2) I’d like to believe that IAG and the wider support mechanisms for students in schools don’t run on autopilot for certain students because they fall into particular boxes. We don’t accompany Justin down to the Sixth Form for a individual look around and chat because he’s an FSM student but because he’s Justin and, because of his personality, staff believe that would help him transition.

FSM

Luton wide there were around 460 students who left in 2010 who were FSM eligible and around 1900 non Free School Meal (NFSM) students. The percentages of both types of students who took different routes (FE College, Sixth Form etc) was pretty similar but the difference in the % of students who went to onto make a sustained transition is interesting. 92% of NFSM students managed to successfully make such a transition into Key stage 5 while a lower figure of 86% FSM students did so. Nationally these figures are 90% for NFSM students and 82% for FSM. So there is a little to cheer here, locally we are getting more of both groups to make successful transitions and also succeeded in closing the gap between the two from 8% national to 6% in Luton. It will be a continuing challenge for the town to both raise attainment levels for these students and ensure quality Careers IAG so that this gap continues to narrow.

SEN

For students designated as those with SEN the picture is more complex to compare. This mainly because of the differences in the numbers of students identified as SEN in each High School. In some of the High schools as few as 20 students in that year group were classed as SEN while Icknield designated 170 students (out of a year group of 280) in this category. I’m at a loss to explain why this is but this system seems to have been remedied as only 22 of their 2012 leavers are classified as SEN on the performance table data. Again, when compared to the national figures, the Luton statistics compare favorably with 85% of SEN students transitioning to a sustained destination while only 84% of School Action, 75% School Action Plus and 84 % of Statemented students achieved this.

GENDER

In this category it is worth comparing school’s data as it the raw numbers are from a whole year group and there are some very interesting percentages. Looking at the different routes Boys took after Key Stage 4 it’s obvious 3 schools stand out. Over 60% of Boys from Challney Boys, Denbigh and Icknield go onto to study at Sixth Form College while for all other schools this figure is below 40%. This affects the number of males who go onto study at FE College from those schools with only 15% of Challney’s boys going there compared to over 50% of both Barnfield South & West males. Clues as to why this is can be found under the next heading.

For the Girls it is a much more uniform picture with more girls than boys from every school choosing the Sixth Form route.

ETHNICITY

The ethnicity characteristics of each school are as variable and diverse as the wards of the town they inhabit. The two Challneys and Denbigh have by far the highest % of Asian students with all three recording over 66% in that ethnic category for that year group. The next highest is is, yep, you’ve guessed it, Icknield with 32% of students classed as Asian which, perhaps, added to the parental expectation to follow traditional routes I wrote about in the previous blog, is a driver of the boy’s decisions.

Elsewhere comparing Luton wide destination statistics by ethnicity against other nearby Local Authorities is a pointless task because of the difference in school Sixth Form versus Sixth Form College. Luton’s results are wildly out of context when placed against other Authorities with the more traditional School Sixth Form versus FE College stand off. Within the town there are noticeable differences between ethnic groups which follow the emerging trend. 72% of Asian students go onto Sixth Form College while only 16% go onto FE College, 49% of Black students go onto Sixth Form College while 33% attend FE College and for White students a larger proportion (46%) go onto FE College than the 32% that go to Sixth Form.

Conclusion

These statistics add to a widely known evidence base of the qualification baseline and educational ambitions of the inhabitants of the town. They show that, if you are a white male you are significantly more likely to continue your education in a vocational pathway post 16 than if you are an Asian female. On the flip side, no matter your gender, if you have Asian heritage you are significantly more likely to attend Sixth Form and so continue your academic learning post 16.

Is either of those realities inherently wrong? Or a situation that needs to change? I feel it is unsuitable to judge but that does not mean impartial and independent IAG should step back from the act of challenging those realities. Engaging with parents, families and communities to provide information on all routes is the very least we can to do to offer young people a chance to find their path of best fit, no matter their background.

Luton Destination Statistics: Where are our students going?

Recently, lots of destination statistics for school leavers have been published by the Dfe. The stats focus on two sets on data, those learners who left education at Key Stage 4 (end of Year 11) and Key Stage 5 (end of 13) in 2010.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/destinations-of-key-stage-4-and-key-stage-5-pupils-2010-to-2011

Added to that, the same data can now be viewed as part of a school’s profile on the Dfe performance tables website.

Here are the Luton tables:

http://www.education.gov.uk/cgi-bin/schools/performance/group.pl?qtype=GR&f=nfzLImlWaf&superview=sec&view=pupdest&sort=l.schname&ord=asc&no=998&pg=1

Now, trainspotters confession here, this stuff FASCINATES me. Particularly on a local level as you can see the impact the personalities of different institutions have on the mindsets and outcomes of their leavers and you can fairly quickly identify where good practice is flourishing in the town.

So here’s my take on the figures to look out for:

LUTON WIDE

The big singing point here is the massive % of learners now going onto any Higher Education Institution from Luton. 61% puts us 9th out of all Local Authorities and is a testament to the fantastic work throughout the education establishments in the town. In fact this figure has the potential to increase even higher as the Barnfield Federation offer more HE routes and local learners find access to such courses even more convenient. The picture isn’t completely rosy though with only 5% of leavers going onto Russell Group Universities and there is scope for improvement here for our IAG work throughout the Key Stages. Meanwhile at KS4 only 5% of leavers are continuing their education in school Sixth Forms which reflects the largely 11-16 tradition of the town with two big FE institutions in Luton Sixth Form and Barnfield College. The NEET figure of 2% (that is the number of learners who spent between 3-6 months from October to March out of Education, Employment or Training) is low compared to nearby Authorities.

KS5

With only 3 providers exiting students at KS5 is fairly easy to draw distinct comparisons between them. Luton Sixth Form far outstrips it’s neighbors for sending students onto Higher Education with 70% choosing this route but it only ties with Cardinal Newman for students going onto Russell Group Universities with 6%. As Newman has a much lower number of leavers, this shows that the school based Sixth Form is getting a much higher ratio of leavers into these highly competitive institutions. It would unfair to include Barnfield in that comparison as the vast majority of their qualification routes are not suitable for Russell Group entry but it is noticeable that 22% of their leavers are not even included in the statistics as this data was not known or could not be traced.

The figures that did strike me were the very low % of leavers from all institutions that went onto Apprenticeships. These figures will be slightly misleading as some learners will be under going an Apprenticeship while at Barnfield but even so, with the rise in the number of Apprenticeships, especially for older learners, I was expecting these figures to be higher.

KS4

It’s no surprise that two of the highest three schools for the % of students going onto a Further Education College are the two Barnfield Academies. Not all of these leavers will be going to Barnfield College (West’s proximity to Central Bedfordshire College should impact here) but their close sponsorship links with the College are bound to influence leavers choice of routes. It’s also no surprise that the school with the biggest % moving to a school Sixth Form is Cardinal Newman, the only school in the town (at the time) with an established school Sixth Form.

Seeing just how large a % of their students Denbigh, Challney Boys and Challney Girls send onto Sixth Form College is an eye opener for me. I’ve always know it was substantial just not that substantial. There are many reasons for this, not least the outstanding GCSE pass rates those schools achieve thus opening A Level routes for their students, but another factor will be that the intake of those schools is mainly from ethnic minority communities (for all 3 their percentage of students on roll for whom English is not their first language is above 88%) who (sweeping generalisaion alert) value and expect their children to inspire to traditional professions that require the academic qualifications only historically offered by Luton Sixth Form. It will be interesting to see how those percentages change with the growth of the Barnfield Sixth Form offer thus increasing the choice of school based Sixth Form route. It is also worth noting the that figures for the % of Apprenticeship leavers from Challney Girls is suppressed as it was so small it could have breached confidentiality reflecting the desire for traditional routes.

The Apprenticeship percentages across the schools in the town are fairly consistent with my own school tied for the biggest % of leavers taking this route and all of us would be looking to increase student’s awareness of this area.

The last set of figures to note is the “Education destination not sustained” column. It’s clear the school to aspire to here is Icknield High. Having only 3% of the largest total cohort of leavers fail to sustain their learning in a suitable pathway is a fantastic achievement and one I will be looking to learn from.

After saying all of that it’s worth noting though that these figures are not full proof; they are a snapshot and with any picture of a period of time they will not show the how picture. This point is neatly summed up by Brian Lightman here:

http://www.ascl.org.uk/News_views/press_releases/destination_data_should_only_be_published_when_is_accurate_complete

and it is worth bearing in mind when you consider them.