Magazine article Public Finance

School Productivity Figures Slated as 'Simplistic'

Magazine article Public Finance

School Productivity Figures Slated as 'Simplistic'

Article excerpt

Education unions have poured scorn on statistics that suggest publicly funded schools are not delivering good value for the money invested in them.

An Office for National Statistics study, published on September 4, estimated that school productivity increased by 2.1% a year between 1996 and 1999 but fell by an average of 0.7% a year from 1999, despite massive increases in investment

The ONS calculated productivity by dividing output measures, taking account of pupil numbers and exam results, by inputs - the amount spent on education. The analysis forms part of a new programme of work by the ONS, which aims to measure public sector outputs in ways that take account of quality change.

National statistician Karen Dunnell said the report represented a major step forward in the measurement of education productivity. 'We will continue to develop further improvements to the estimates, drawing on the knowledge of a wide range of experts,' she said.

But Martin Ward, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, dismissed the study as complete nonsense'. 'One might ask why the Office for National Statistics is wasting its time by putting out such misleading statements,' he told Public Finance.

Ward said the ONS's concept of productivity relied too heavily on exam results and failed to take into account the wider benefits of education that cannot be measured.

'As citizens, we've learnt an awful lot in the education service that has nothing to do with passing our maths exam. …

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