Saturday, May 25, 2024

Digging down in the data

Melanie Butler on how we differentiate schools

With seven per cent of all British Council accredited centres now awarded 10 areas out of 15 on the summary statement of their inspection report, there is an obvious need to differentiate between centres with the same overall score.

First, we divide providers into two generally-accepted educational categories: adults (over-16s) and under-16s. Then we selected the key subjects of concern for each group: welfare and safety for children, teaching and learning for adults.

We then we checked the full reports for the areas completed by the inspectors under the relevant headings, as in the example. Each strength awarded is given a point towards a bonus.

The British Council place particular emphasis on the importance of meeting every criteria, and one judgement of Not met means an area of strength will not be awarded in the summary statement. So, we deduct a point for any criterion which is judged as Not met.

Then we adjust the scores, because if any of the individual criteria in one area are not applicable to one centre, it would have a lower possible maximum than the others.

Also, the number of criteria in a given area may vary from year-to-year. For example, in 2017 there were four criteria in the area of Leisure opportunities, but by 2019 that had risen to five.

To iron-out statistical differences, we calculated all results as a percentage of available criteria for each area reported, across the same base number. This does not entirely eliminate the statistical discrepancy, and so differences of less than 0.2 are unlikely to be significant.

Reading the reports

To see how the calculation works, look at the example below from a 2017 report. This section, covering Care of Under-18s, has eight criteria, but two are marked N/A under Strength, which means a strength cannot be given.

A strength is marked for three out of the six applicable areas, or fifty per cent. This would normally mean the centre would be awarded an area of strength in the summary statement. However, one criteria is marked Not met, so the inspectors cannot award an area of strength, and we therefore deduct a point for the bonus calculation, giving a net of 2 out of 6.

Image courtesy of Library
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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