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Written Statement - Release of provisional secondary school banding information

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Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills

In July I updated you on work to develop a banding system for schools in Wales as part of a suite of policy actions designed to give us a clearer focus on our performance and progress. I said at that time that secondary schools would receive details of provisional banding, based on data up to and including 2010 examination data as early as possible in the new term.

In line with that commitment provisional banding data was issued to schools on 15 September 2011.

The banding was based on analyses of four groups of data relating to recent performance, progress and performance taking account of the level of deprivation and other socio economic factors. The four data groups and the indicators used reflect our priorities of literacy, numeracy and reducing the impact of deprivation on educational outcomes.

The data released this month is provisional, it will be updated later in the term when we have validated examinations data matched to pupil records. At this point two indicators not available for use in the provisional model will be added.

I have indicated all along that we will be transparent about the banding both in terms of the methodology used and the outcomes for schools. However, this is provisional data only, incomplete and not inclusive of the most up to date information. This provisional information is useful to schools and their local authorities as they plan, report to parents and set targets.

Following release of the final banding information in early December I can confirm that the information will be made available on the Welsh Government website. The exact format and location will be communicated in due course.

Once again I will reiterate that banding is NOT about labelling schools, naming and shaming or creating a divisive league table. It is about grouping our schools according to a range of factors to establish priorities for differentiated support and identifying those from whom the sector can learn.

Work will continue on a primary banding model over the course of this term.

How secondary school bands have been calculated

Banding uses the relative performance of schools to group schools into one of five bands.

Band 1 schools are those whose data show strongest overall performance and progress across the measures. Band 5 schools are those where performance and progress are weakest relative to other schools.

The banding model uses four groups of data;

  1. The Level 2 threshold  including a GCSE at grade C or above in English or Welsh first language and mathematics. Recent performance, performance set against free school meal levels in the school, progress over 3 years and value added are used in this group.
  2. The capped points score is the average points per pupil in a school for all achievement at any grade taking account of a volume of learning up to the equivalent of 8 GCSEs. Recent performance and performance set against free school meal levels in the school are used in this group. In the final banding progress over 2 years and value added will be added to this group.
  3. The average points score per pupil for English or Welsh first language and mathematics set against the free school meals level in the school is used for this group.
  4. Attendance is represented by absence levels set against free school meal levels and progress over 3 years.

Each measure in each group is ranked relative to all schools in Wales. Relative performance is ‘scored’ according to the quarter in which it falls where quarter 1 represents performance in the top 25% of schools in Wales and quarter 4 represents the lowest 25%.

The scores are totalled; the lower the score the better the relative performance. The band boundaries are based on the range of possible scores.