Two keys things jump out about the new update. Firstly, the past has been erased. There is no way to get access to the 2012 Data Dashboard via the Ofsted site. It’s as if the historical data doesn’t exist. Secondly, the methodology for selecting ‘similar schools’ has changed. And it’s even more ridiculous than it was before. Only a fool would use the OSDD as it is intended.
So, why the lack of a historical perspective? As readers of my blog may guess, I think this is because there is no trend, and the data which is presented in the OSDD is effectively random. Since Ofsted have removed the 2012 data, it’s now impossible to see this unless you have archived material yourself. I have some save pdfs of OSDD data, but they are for schools where I have worked, and I value my anonymity...
Fortunately, Google has cached some of the old data, so I’ve grabbed some data whilst I can. So, here you are:
Firstly, Hythe Primary in Southampton in 2012:
Pick a school, any school...
Now, my bug bear, the ‘similar-schools-which-are-simply-not-in-the-least-similar'. I complained that it was not obvious how these had been selected in the 2012 OSDD. It was clear the methodology was different to that used by the DfS’s Performance Tables, which I criticised here.
The 2013 OSDD uses the same modelled data analysis as the DfS. And for some reason, it now does this for each of writing, reading and numeracy, rather than producing one list of 'similar schools'. Now, the reason may be that simply adding up three different point scores and dividing them by three was a daft idea (which it is). It may be a different reason, but Ofsted isn’t saying. Either way, you end up with three different sets of similar schools, 124 in each, 372 schools in total.
Now, if these schools were similar, you’d expect some kind of overlap between the lists of similar schools, wouldn’t you? They are similar to a given school, after all, Ofsted says so...
Well, I had a look at the schools which are similar to Aldborough Primary School. The first is Fallings Park Primary School, Wolverhampton which is in the similar schools lists for Writing and Numeracy. Second is Monkleigh Primary School, Bideford, which is similar in Reading and Numeracy. The third is Trosnant Junior School and BESD Unit, Havant, which is similar in Writing and Reading.
And that’s it. Three lists of 124 schools each, with three overlaps between them. So, pretty much random, then. I haven’t got time or inclination to look at any more, because nothing suggests that the results would be any less random.
Random is as random does
So there you are. Random results telling you nothing. Which Ofsted says that governors and schools should 'use in their drive for improvement'. Draw your own conclusions about what this data tells you.
PS Foolishly, I didn't save any random 2012 reports for Primary Schools. I've save a few Secondary Schools for comparison when Ofsted updates the KS4 data, which they say will happen in April 2014. I suggest that you save a 2012 OSDD pdf for your school before they disappear forever.