Did you know that there’s a new, useful tool for comparing schools?

The new school comparison tool on the Department for Education’s website is a pretty useful tool; it gives parents a chance to easily compare schools in a variety of ways. You can compare results, spend-per-pupil, Ofsted reports and so forth.

One thing it most obviously illustrates is that there is no spending data for academies — and presumably won’t be for free schools too. I think the “spend-per-pupil information” section is very useful because you can see how much schools are spending on their teaching staff, supply staff, catering and so on and compare with other schools who’ve released this data. I am all for parents asking schools about this issue; if it’s obvious that a school is spending comparatively little on teaching staff compared with administration then perhaps questions need to be asked. But clearly this can’t be done in the case of academies.


Published by: @wonderfrancis

Francis Gilbert is a Lecturer in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, teaching on the PGCE Secondary English programme. He also teaches the Creative Writing module on the MA in Children’s Literature, which is run by Maggie Pitfield and Professor Michael Rosen. Previously, he worked for a quarter of a century in various English state schools teaching English and Media Studies to 11-18 year olds. He has, at times, moonlighted as a journalist, novelist and social commentator. He is the author of ‘Teacher On The Run’, ‘Yob Nation’, ‘Parent Power’, ‘Working The System -- How To Get The Very Best State Education for Your Child’, and a novel about school, ‘The Last Day Of Term’. His first book, ‘I'm A Teacher, Get Me Out Of Here’ was a big hit, becoming a bestseller and being serialised on Radio 4. In his role as an English teacher, he has taught many classic texts over the years and has developed a great many resources to assist readers with understanding, appreciating and responding to them both analytically and creatively. This led him to set up his own small publishing company FGI Publishing (fgipublishing.com) which has published his study guides as well as a number of books by other authors, including Roger Titcombe’s ‘Learning Matters’ and anthology of creative writing 'The Gold Room'. He is the co-founder, with Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar, of The Local Schools Network, www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk, a blog that celebrates non-selective state schools, and has his own website, www.francisgilbert.co.uk. He has appeared numerous times on radio and TV, including Newsnight, the Today Programme, Woman’s Hour and the Russell Brand Show. In June 2015, he was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing and Education by Goldsmiths.

Categories Behaviour, Government policyTags, , 4 Comments

4 thoughts on “Did you know that there’s a new, useful tool for comparing schools?”

  1. Now *that* is very interesting (and significant).

    Thanks for raising this, Francis. It begs the important (and obvious) question: why are academies (and, presumably, free schools, too) not being subjected to the same scrutiny as local authority schools?

      1. Indeed, it is. I think we’re agreed that this is a vastly more important question than whether or not there might be any correlation between children’s bag-packing and academic achievement.

        But then what’s disappointing, then, is that, on this *real* issue, you haven’t (yet) offered any opinion, e.g. ‘the government doesn’t dare subject academies to equal scrutiny because … ‘, ‘academies vastly outperform LA schools making scrutiny redundant’.

        Whereas, with the trivial ‘subject’ of bag-packing, you +are+ prepared to stick your neck out and assert that there is a correlation and that it would be a worthwhile topic of research.

      2. I think it depends from what perspective you’re coming from. I’m sure the bag issue is not that relevant to anyone who is not a pupil with a very heavy bag, but for such pupils it is an important one. One of the purposes of good ethnographic research is to give a voice to the marginalised; an educational ethnographer could do worse than look into this issue in my opinion. The issue of transparency is something a group of us at the Local Schools Network have been campaigning for, for a while…http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/campaigns/transparency-academies-freeschools/

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