Thursday, 23 January 2014

5 interesting things from the 2013 GCSE data

Coverage of GCSE data published today has focused on the national picture. There are have encouraging improvements overall and fewer schools are below the floor target. However, there is a huge amount of data hidden away in the performance information that the DfE publish alongside individual school results. I've picked out five interesting nuggets which lead to a whole raft of further questions for schools, agencies and Government to consider.

1. The gap in performance between young people who are native speakers of English and those who speak it as an additional language has continued to close. 60.9% of native speakers get five good GCSEs including England and Maths (henceforth 5A*-C + EM) compared to 60.1% non-native speakers. In Inner London non-native speakers actually do 3.3 percentage points better than English speakers (in Tower Hamlets it's 11.5%). Nationally 56 local authorities now see their non-native speakers outperform the average.

2. London continues to improve faster than the rest of the country. London saw a 2.7 percentage point increase in pupils achieving 5A*-C + EM compared with 1.7pp nationwide. Improvement in the North was notably lower than the rest of the country - just 0.8pp in the North-East and 1pp in the North-West. There are some success stories in the North though - Hartlepool was the second most improved LA in the country (10.2pp) after Rutland.

3. Nationally the gap between young people on Free School Meals (FSM) and the rest hasn't improved. In fact it's widened slightly by 0.4pp. There are interesting regional variations. In the North the gap narrowed (by 0.8pp in the NE) but largely because the improvements for non-FSM children were fairly weak. In London FSM pupils improved faster but not as fast as non-FSM. The fastest improving region for FSM pupils was the South-East - with Windsor, Slough and West Berkshire showing particularly striking improvements around the 10pp level. This is encouraging as it suggests areas with historically low numbers of FSM pupils are being pushed by Ofsted's focus on the pupil premium into taking their performance seriously.

4. The difference in performance between children on FSM in different regions remains striking. Despite improvements in the South-East it is still, along with the South-West, the lowest performing region for FSM nationally. In the South-East 33% of FSM pupils get 5A*-C + EM compared to 54.1% in Inner London. At LA level the differences are even more stark. In Barnsley 22.8% of FSM pupils met the 5A*-C + EM benchmark. In Westminster it was 62.2% (it was even higher in Kensington and Chelsea - an astonishing 76.7% - but they only had 100 FSM pupils in the cohort).

5. Poor Black students improved faster than poor white students. White boys remain the lowest performing ethnic group (apart from Gypsy/Roma/traveller pupils). Just 28.3% of white boys on FSM achieved 5A*-C + EM compared to, say, 55.8% of Bangladeshi boys on FSM. White boys on FSM improved less than average FSM so fell further behind (1.4pp to 1.6pp). Black boys improved faster - by 2.8pp. Black Caribbean boys improved by a very significant 4.8pp.

All the data used in this blog can be found here.

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