Tag Archives: Schools

BBC and sloppy numbers

Without wanting to engage in BBC bashing it must be said that this morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme had too many examples of sloppy use of data. There were school boy errors: focusing on the latest figure not the trend, comparing annual data to quarterly data, getting the number wrong, ignoring the impact of inflation when comparing figures over time, choosing the wrong denominator and flooding the debate with large but ultimately meaningless numbers. I am not a regular listener to the BBC’s flagship news programs but I hope they are generally better than this!  Continue reading BBC and sloppy numbers

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School exam statistics – state secrets?

This is a story about how I tried – and failed – to get some data about top performing GCSE students and girls doing STEM-related A levels. The story highlights weaknesses in the Department for Education but also in government statistics and their regulation systems more widely. The public deserves better. A report from the UK Statistics Authority on this quest was published today.

Exam success is key for a school pupil that wants to go to a leading university, on their way to a top job. As the AS levels will soon be a thing of the past, GCSEs are vital in that journey. Yet information about what sort of pupils from which type of schools in different parts of the country get the all-important top grade GCSEs (or study combinations of STEM-related A levels) is largely a mystery as the government denies access to the full set of school-level exam results. Continue reading School exam statistics – state secrets?

Too many statistics? The Guardian’s view

I can hardly agree with The Guardian’s editorial today: “The Guardian view on statistics in politics: over-counting“.

Part of it is just what one might expect from a newspaper: wordsmiths rant against things they tend not to get, like evidence (all too often it has ruined a great story!), big data and “computers”. Add in some cheap shots along the lines of lies, damned lies ……… and you’re done. A good read it is.

But it also makes two very valid points. Continue reading Too many statistics? The Guardian’s view