Headlines: February 25th, 1998

In a further bid to raise standards, schools and Local Education Authorities are being given the means to assess performance. Inspections by the Office For Standards in Education are carried out at intervals of several years and the new initiative is designed to allow the questions posed in inspections to be raised on an annual basis.Schools will shortly receive ‘School Evaluation Matters’ which sets out criteria and indicators from the OFSTED Framework For Inspection. This will essentially provide the questions that need to be asked about performance. This document will be complemented by a Performance and Assessment report (PANDA) giving test, examination and teacher assessment data for the school. Other data will set the school in its socio-economic environment. There will also be comparative data relating to schools with similar characteristics. This is the first time comparisons with similar schools have been possible. The 24,000 PANDAs will be updated annually.

The PANDAs, which have been piloted in five LEAs, bring together data in such a way as to give a rounded profile of a school. They present a picture that sets the school in context, and this will help both in the review process and in suggesting targets for the future.

Simultaneously LEAs are being given a comprehensive profile of education within their boundaries. This includes the complete set of PANDAs for their schools as well as a sophisticated analysis of overall performance in relation to the national picture and their ‘statistical neighbours’. This information will be freely available and it will be particularly welcomed by parents faced with exercising their choice on the most suitable school for their children.