13 May 2004
School inspections should take into account external social and economic influences to give a more rounded picture of performance, according to a Commons' committee.
The Public Accounts Committee is calling on the Department for Education and Skills to introduce new measurements.
The committee's report, published on May 13, noted that many of the factors that drive a school's performance are not within the control of schools. National Audit Office calculations have shown that adjusting academic achievement for the influence of external factors can have a marked effect on reported performance. Following adjustment, some schools moved from the bottom of the rankings to the top 20%.
The report said Ofsted should set out a school's academic ranking before and after external influences have been taken into consideration. Inspectors would then be able to use the adjusted information to help strengthen a school's ability to match education with pupils' background.
PAC chair Edward Leigh said: 'This enhanced information must be available to parents, so that they can take it into account in selecting schools, however limited the choices they have. The Department for Education and Skills must develop measurement further and make the results available to parents for all schools next year.'
The MPs also criticised the 'unacceptably high' number of funding streams for schools and urged the DfES to make funding arrangements simpler, fairer and more transparent. They noted that the lack of certainty incurred by the annual funding round was a major source of complaint among schools.