Most of us think we can spot a trend in school data when we see one but increasingly I’m not so sure. The problem is not that trends don’t exist; some schools will genuinely be improving and others declining. The problem is not even a failure to recognise that some trends might be completely outwith the control of the school. The problem is that what looks like a trend, might be no such thing.
Actually, I think the deeper problem is that most people tend to accept that schools have blips in their data for reasons that are almost completely random but that looking at data over several years gets past this problem. Reaction to the Cramlington Learning Village Ofsted report (Outstanding to Special Measures) is a good example.
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