Where applicable figures for all pupils, whether in social care or not, are included for ease of reference as the ‘all pupils comparison’. There are some differences in how the outcomes are calculated for the all pupils comparison with those in the social care groups. However, the effect of these is small and figures, where provided, are still comparable.
Only children that have a PMR and match to the relevant data for each outcome are included in the outcomes data for each of the social care groups.
The spring school census is a snapshot of pupil information in schools as at the third Thursday in January. In the years provided in this publication it includes nursery, state-funded primary, state-funded secondary and special schools as well as pupil referral units.
Alternative provision census
The alternative provision census is a snapshot of pupil information in alternative provision as at the third Thursday in January. The alternative provision census covers pupils attending a school not maintained by a local authority for whom the authority is paying full tuition fees, or educated otherwise than in schools and pupil referral units, under arrangements made (and funded) by the local authority.
Special educational needs (SEN)
The SEN data for the social care groups is taken from the school census and the alternative provision census. It is possible for a child to be matched to both of these census types if they attend more than one kind of setting. These children will be included in the figures but will only be counted once. In these cases, the highest level of SEN is counted.
The all pupils comparison for SEN only takes data from the school census. However, at national level the impact of the alternative provision figures is likely to be small, so the school census data is still comparable at national level. The all pupils comparison for SEN is taken from Special educational needs in England: 2019/21.
Key stage 4
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer exam series for the 2020/21 academic year was cancelled.
Instead, for 2020/21, pupils were only assessed on the content they had been taught for each course. Schools were given flexibility to decide how to assess their pupils’ performance, for example, through mock exams, class tests, and non-exam assessment already completed. GCSE grades were then determined by teachers based on the range of evidence available and they are referred to as teacher-assessed grades, or TAGs.
This is a different process to that of 2019/20 when pupils were awarded either a centre assessment grade (known as CAGs, based on what the school or college believed the pupil would most likely have achieved had exams gone ahead) or their calculated grade using a model developed by Ofqual - whichever was the higher of the two.
The changes to the way GCSE grades have been awarded over the last two years (with CAGs and TAGs replacing exams) mean 2020/21 pupil attainment data should not be directly compared to pupil attainment data from previous years for the purposes of measuring year on year changes in pupil performance.
For more information see the key stage 4 performance statistics release for academic year 2020/21.
Attainment 8 measures the average achievement of pupils in up to 8 qualifications. This includes: English language; English literature (if only one GCSE in English is taken then it is double weighted); maths (double weighted); three further qualifications that count in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc); and three further qualifications that can be GCSE qualifications (including EBacc subjects) or any other non-GCSE qualifications on the DfE approved list.
From 2018, Attainment 8 had a maximum point score of 90, compared to a maximum of 87 in 2017 and 80 in 2016. This is a consequence of the phased introduction of reformed GCSEs graded on the 9-1 scale. These differences should be considered when comparing Attainment 8 scores between 2016-2019.
Percentage of pupils achieving grade 5 or above in both English and maths GCSEs. To meet the English requirement in this measure, a pupil would have to achieve a grade 5 or above in either English literature or English language. There is no requirement to sit both.
The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) entry shows how many pupils are entering GCSEs (or AS level qualifications) in core academic subjects at KS4. The EBacc consists of English, maths, science, a language, and history or geography. To count in the EBacc, qualifications must be on the English Baccalaureate list of qualifications. In 2020, this measure is less likely to have been affected by the cancellation of exams as schools will have taken most of their entry decisions ahead of the COVID-19 disruption.
The EBacc average point score (EBacc APS) measures pupils’ point scores across the five pillars of the EBacc - English, maths, science, a language, and history or geography – with a zero for any missing pillars. This ensures the attainment of all pupils is recognised, not just those at particular grade boundaries, encouraging schools to enter pupils of all abilities, and support them to achieve their full potential.
For more information on these measures and their calculation methodology, see the secondary accountability guidance.
Generally the coverage across different school types for the social care groups is more comprehensive than the key stage 4 national publication, as we aim to include as many children in social care as possible. Duplicates within the key stage 4 data (before matching to the social care data) are removed taking the best attainment result. The social care groups are matched to the revised version of key stage 4 data and the all pupils comparison is also from the revised version of the data. The all pupils comparison for key stage 4 is taken from Key stage 4 performance: 2020/21.
The SEN data is taken from the school census and the alternative provision census. It is possible for a child to be matched to both of these census types if they attend more than one kind of setting. Such cases will be included in the figures but will only count once. In these cases, the highest level of SEN has been counted. The key stage 4 data includes pupils for whom SEN status could not be determined.
Usually in the key stage 4 local authority level data, children that are flagged as having recently arrived from overseas are removed. However, due to the schools checking exercise not taking place in 2019/20 or 2020/21, in these years, children have not been able to be flagged as having recently arrived from overseas and so consequently have not been removed from the data.
Key stage 4 destination measures follow pupils who were at the end of key stage 4 study (GCSE and equivalent qualifications) in 2018/19, and reports their destinations in the following academic year (2019/20). They show the percentage of pupils going to an education, apprenticeship or employment destination. To be counted in a destination, young people have to have sustained participation for a 6 month period in the destination year.
The percentages for the social care groups are much less than the all pupils figures published in Key stage 4 destination measures: 2019/20. However, it should be noted that the figures in this outcomes release include additional institutions, so they are not directly comparable. For example, other institutions include: independent schools, independent special schools and secure units. For this reason we do not have an all pupils comparison for this outcome.
In 2021, we updated the matching methodology for destinations, increasing the number of children at the end of key stage 4 being matched to destinations data.
Absence data is collected one term in arrears of the school census. In 2020, due to the pandemic absence data for 2019/20 was only collected for the Autumn 2019. Therefore, 2019/20 absence data published in this release for social care groups, relates to absence in the autumn 2019 term for children in social care during 2019/20 prior to the pandemic. In recent years, autumn term absence rates have given reasonable indications of trends in the full year. However, absence in a single term can be more affected by the level of seasonal flu or other illnesses.
During 2020/21, an additional code was introduced to record where pupils were not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes pupils self-isolating and shielding, including when a class or bubble was required to stay at home. During these sessions, these children could not attend school and so they are treated separately, and not counted within the standard absence rates within this publication. Where a pupil was not attending in these circumstances, schools were expected to provide immediate access to remote education. For the majority of the Spring term, only children of critical workers and vulnerable pupils could attend school during the period of lockdown from 4 January 2021. Restrictions were lifted on attendance from 8 March 2021 for all other pupils, four school weeks prior to the end of term. Due to the disruption faced during the Spring term, caution should be taken when comparing data across terms and to previous years. For more detailed information see the Pupil absence in schools in England, Academic Year 2020/21 – Explore education statistics – GOV.UK (explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk).
For the social care groups, absence data is matched to school census data for each school type, so the pupils included are those on the school census with absence data. The all pupils comparison figures taken from the national publication are produced using a different methodology based on enrolments and the school type is allocated in a different way. As a result of this, the all pupils comparison is not provided by school type as it is not appropriate to compare. The all pupils comparison for absence is taken from Pupil absence in schools in England: 2019/20 and includes absence for all pupils who attend the same types of school as the social care groups (state-funded primary, state-funded secondary, special schools and pupil referral units). The social care groups and the all pupils comparison absence data is for children of compulsory school age (age 5 to 15 at 31st August).
Permanent exclusions and suspensions
Permanent exclusion refers to a pupil who's been permanently excluded and who will not come back to that school (unless the permanent exclusion is overturned). This data only includes permanent exclusions which have been upheld by the governing body or Independent Review Panel (IRP), and not those which are still ongoing. The permanent exclusion percentage is calculated as the number of permanent exclusions divided by the number of pupils (x100).
Suspension (formerly fixed period exclusion) refers to a pupil who's suspended from a school for a set period of time.
Permanent exclusions and suspensions data is collected two terms in arrears, which means the latest available data is for the 2019/20 academic year. Pupils with one or more suspension refers to pupils who have had at least one suspension across the full academic year.
Covering the 2019/20 academic year, this year's data includes the start of the pandemic when, from 23 March, school sites were closed for all but those children of critical workers and vulnerable children, with others being educated remotely. Permanent exclusions and suspensions were possible throughout the full academic year but comparisons to previous years should be treated with caution.
For the social care groups, permanent exclusions and suspensions data is matched to school census data for each school type. The all pupils comparison figures taken from the national publication are produced using a different methodology based on enrolments and the school type is allocated in a different way. As a result of this, the all pupils comparison is not provided by school type as it is not appropriate to compare. The all pupils comparison for permanent exclusions and suspensions is taken from Permanent and fixed-period exclusions in England: 2019/20 and includes permanent exclusions and suspensions for all pupils who attend the same types of school as the social care groups (state-funded primary, state-funded secondary, special schools and pupil referral units). The social care groups and the all pupils comparison permanent exclusions and suspensions data have no age restriction.
Free school meals (FSM)
The FSM eligibility data for the social care groups is taken from the school census and the alternative provision census. It is possible for a child to be matched to both of these census types if they attend more than one kind of setting. Such cases will be included in the figures but will only count once. In these cases, FSM eligibility has been counted if it appears on either census.
From April 2018 transitional protections were in in place, which continued during the roll out of Universal Credit. These protections mean that pupils eligible for free school meals on or after 1 April 2018 retain their free school meals eligibility, even if their circumstances change. If a child was eligible for free school meals, they remain eligible until they finish their current phase of schooling (primary or secondary) in 2023. The introduction of transitional protections is the main reason for the increase in the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals seen in recent years, as pupils continue to become eligible, but fewer pupils stop being eligible.
The all pupils comparison for FSM takes data from the school census and the alternative provision census. The all pupils comparison for FSM is taken from Schools, pupils and their characteristics: 2020/21.
The social care groups are matched to school census data for information on school type. The all pupils comparison figures taken from the national publication have school type allocated in a different way. As a result of this, the all pupils comparison is not provided by school type as it is not appropriate to compare. The all pupils comparison is taken from Schools, pupils and their characteristics: 2020/21.