Myths of a north-south schools divide in the UK have been dispelled somewhat by new figures that reveal establishments in the north-east of England are outperforming those based elsewhere in the country, when pupils' backgrounds are taken into account.
This is according to an analysis from Education Datalab and the Times Education Supplement (TES), which shows that when contextual value is considered, students at schools in the north-east achieved the best scores and the highest levels of progress.
The research took into account a range of factors, such as gender, ethnicity, deprivation, pupils' first language and special educational needs, assessing these in correlation with their GCSE exam results, finding that those living in the north-east achieved the most over the course of their schooling.
Speaking to the TES, director of Education Datalab Becky Allen stated that too much talk of a north-south divide among schools made analysis too simplistic.
"Regions are far too large and diverse to make generalisations," she stated.
Ofsted, which is heavily involved in devising school league tables and giving certain labels to establishments, does not take any additional factors other than exam scores into account in its assessments, with a spokesperson for the inspection body commenting: "Our inspections always take into account the progress made by pupils from their starting points. However, we do not use contextual value added figures because we want to set high expectations for all pupils."
Previously, Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector at Ofsted, claimed that schools in the north-east were underperforming and that there was a significant north-south divide across the UK.
Yet this new analysis dispels his statement and shows that it is important that a range of other factors are taken into account when assessing schools' performance, other than just exam results.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels