Now you can benchmark your primary school using Assembly’s free tool.

Our Benchmarking Tools help schools, parents and governors explore the mountain of publicly-available school data. With our new key stage 2 dashboards, we take a look at 2015 data through a 2016 lens to help you understand how your school is performing against the new measures.

At Assembly we believe in the ability of public data to yield valuable insight to schools, parents and governors. However, in the past it has been hard for these groups to wade through the mountain of available data and use it effectively. That’s why we started trying to make sense of it all for you with our key stage 4 benchmarking tool (launched back in January), which has now been used to analyse over 14% of all English secondary schools. Off the back of its success we have now extended the tool to cover Key Stage 2.

Here’s a quick reminder of our key principles for designing school dashboards:

  • Data exploration should be interactive and intuitive, so we make it easy to drill down from the high-level summary into the more detailed picture.
  • Public data should be free, so we’ll never charge for benchmarking resources.
  • Comparison to the average isn’t enough. Simply knowing you’re above or below average isn’t sufficient to know the areas in which you are truly excelling or lagging behind. So while we include averages in many places, we prefer to contextualise data in more granularity by using percentiles.
  • Contextualising the data should be intuitive, so we have included explanations and colour coding to make it easier to interpret percentiles.

The Future of KS2 Benchmarking

Key Stage 2 performance measures and school accountability are changing. National tests this year were the first to move away from assessing students using levels, and instead to produce a scaled score. Schools and students will receive the results of this summer’s tests tomorrow; however, the full national dataset (i.e. the country-wide school performance tables from which we can offer comparisons) won’t be available until the autumn.

Luckily you don’t need to wait for this release to begin to make sense of national data in a post-levels world. Our benchmarking tool uses last academic year’s KS2 data, selected and presented in a manner which will best help you to contextualise your performance and assess your relative strengths and weaknesses in a world without levels. In other words, it provides the closest view we can get of how a school might measure up under the new standards.

What We’ve Included (And What We Haven’t)

We’ve included 4 measures in our tool. They are the closest 2015 measures to the new headline measures:

  1. Value Added and Average Points Score (APS) are included as pre-existing measures which will continue to exist in 2016/17 as headline measures (albeit in a different format to previous years).
  2. % Achieving National Standard and % Achieving a High Score are 2016 measures which do not exist in our 2015 dataset, so the underlying data is the level 4b+ and level 5+ pass rates. The DfE has stated that the national standard of 100 will be roughly equivalent to a 4b. The new ‘high score’ will be based on proportion achieving above a certain score, but the threshold has yet to be set, so we’ve used the level 5 pass rate (achieved by 24% of students) as a proxy in its absence. We’ve included these two measures here as the closest existing data to the two new headline measures, clothed in the new language with which we all need to become accustomed.

Prioritising Progress

We separate out progress and attainment measures in order to highlight any difference in performance between the two. Our general principle is to prioritise progress measures over attainment measures, since they generally offer a fairer comparative judgement of a school. For this reason we position progress measures on the left so your eye is first drawn to them. The potential stark difference between progress and attainment measures - and why it’s unfair to judge a school on attainment alone - is well illustrated by looking at Ark Swift Primary Academy:

Looking at attainment measures alone would give some cause for concern: the school is in the bottom 15% of primaries on all three headline metrics. To do this, however, is to miss a vital piece of contextual information: Ark Swift has a Value Added score that puts it in the top 25% of schools in the country. This means that, although attainment may be comparatively low, the students are nonetheless making impressive progress; just from a low baseline. This highlights the difficulty of assessing schools against attainment thresholds only, which is why our tool presents a more rounded picture of a school. In Ark Swift’s case, Ofsted clearly took a similar view - the school was judged ‘Good’ last month.

We hope you find our benchmarking tool insightful and easy to use. We’d love to get your feedback, so please feel free to fill in our feedback form or email me at rachel@assembly.education to offer your thoughts. We’ll be hugely grateful for any input you’re willing to give. And do join our mailing list if you’d like to be notified of future developments and updates.

A Quick Note on the Data:

Where a school has become an academy (either sponsored or converted), or has changed URN for another reason (e.g. a change of religious charter), we have mapped the data together in our tool. We think it’s beneficial to not lose touch with the old data, particularly if the switch to academy status was more of an operational change rather than a whole school overhaul. That being said, it may not always be comparing like with like to look back across this boundary, and we advise that you use your own judgement as to whether it makes sense to look at this data as a historical trend.