Data in the school and college performance tables can only show part of the picture of a school or college and its pupils’ or students’ achievements.
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Factors that can affect performance results
When measuring a school or college’s effectiveness, you should consider the context of the school, as there may be factors that can help explain its performance.
For example, you should consider:
- the school type, for example pupils at a special school (for children with special educational needs or disabilities) may have lower prior attainment than those in a mainstream school
- the pupils’ characteristics, for example how many are considered disadvantaged (eligible for free school meals in the last 6 years, or have been looked after by their local authority) or who have English as an additional language
You should also consider how the school or college’s performance compares to local and national results.
1.1 Comparing schools with small pupil numbers
When comparing schools or colleges, you should consider that differences may not be significant if you’re looking at a small year group. For example, in a group of 10 pupils, 1 pupil would represent 10% and in a group of 30 pupils, 1 pupil would represent 3%.
Small schools may see a lot of variation in their results over time due to the effect that 1 or 2 pupils’ results can have on the school average.
Where the numbers of pupils or students are very small, we show the related performance measures as ‘suppressed’ (not published and labelled ‘SUPP’ in the table) to make sure the pupils or students can’t be identified.
1.2 Comparing data year-on-year
In 2016, there were policy changes at key stage 2, key stage 4 and 16 to 18 which mean it is not always possible to compare year-on-year results over time.
In 2017, reformed (9 to 1) GCSEs were introduced in English and maths. This has affected the way key stage 4 measures are calculated compared to previous years.