key stage 4

Are KS4 performance statistics still doing their job?

The office for statistics regulation is reviewing the use of KS4 performance stats and you can be part of the conversation, write Emily Carless and Nicky Pearce

The office for statistics regulation is reviewing the use of KS4 performance stats and you can be part of the conversation, write Emily Carless and Nicky Pearce

22 Mar 2022, 17:00

As part of our pre-planned programme of assessments, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is carrying out an assessment of the key stage 4 performance statistics for England that are published by the Department for Education.

It is really important for us to understand how people use these statistics, what they find works well and what improvements they think could be made. To help us, we have a short online survey that opened in February that we would like to invite you to complete if you use key stage 4 performance statistics for any purpose.

Why is this assessment important?

The key stage 4 performance statistics are important as they are used for so many different purposes, from politicians making decisions on education policy and monitoring standards to helping parents make informed decisions about secondary schools.

These statistics are badged as national statistics, which means that they have previously been judged to comply with the code of practice for statistics. As part of our role as statistics regulators, we regularly revisit national statistics to check that they still meet these high standards and that they are still fit for purpose.  

As part of this assessment, we are looking at all key stage 4 performance statistics published at national and local authority level, including information on EBacc entry, attainment and disadvantage gaps. We are also looking at the school-level key stage 4 data that are published alongside the national totals and are included in school performance tables.

We are interested in which statistics are used and why, and how satisfied people are with certain aspects of the statistics including their level of quality, the advice about their strengths and limitations and how clearly they are presented.

Statistics have long played an important role in school improvement, and in a post-Covid world they may prove even more important. The next few years will be key to understanding the impact the pandemic has had on children’s education and how effective measures have been to recover from it.

That’s why this survey matters. Everyone who uses these statistics needs to be able to do so with confidence.

What else does OSR do?

Our role at OSR is exactly that: to make sure that people have confidence in the statistics government departments and other public bodies produce and how they are used.

Statistics are a key part of society and democracy. They are central to informing public and political debates and discussions about every important topic, not least education. They serve the public good.

Assessments are just one part of the work that we do. We also investigate issues raised with us about the use of statistics, carry out high-level reviews of official statistics and conduct systemic reviews.

Our recently published report of our review of children and young people statistics, for example, explored the different needs for statistics about this group how well those needs are being met. We focussed on visibility, vulnerability and voice to identify how these statistics can be improved.

Your views on key stage 4 performance statistics can similarly bring about such improvements if they are needed, and you have until Thursday 31 March to share them with us.

And if you would like to contact us about our work or to raise a concern about statistics, you can email us regulation@statistics.gov.uk.

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