27 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Watchdog rejects PS statistics

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“Serious concerns” have been expressed over the UK Department for Education’s presentation and use of statistics.

Writing to the Minister in charge, Damian Hinds, the UK Statistics Authority has demanded that the Department’s figures be “properly presented” in future.

The watchdog over Government statistics sounded the alarm about a string of recent claims made by the Department, including an assertion by Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb that England had leapfrogged up an international survey of reading abilities for nine-year-olds.

Mr Gibb claimed that England had gone from nineteenth out of 50 countries to eighth over the past year.

The Statistics Authority said this was incorrect and the real rise was from tenth place in 2011 to eighth in 2016.

Head of the Statistics Authority, Sir David Norgrove (pictured) also took aim at a recent tweet and blog from the Department, which he said used figures “in such a way as to misrepresent changes in school funding” and give “a more favourable picture” of the Government’s education spending record.

“I am sure you share my concerns that instances such as these do not help to promote trust and confidence in official data, and indeed risk undermining them,” Sir David said.

He said the Authority has had cause to publicly write to the Department with concerns on four occasions in the past year.

“I regret that the Department does not yet appear to have resolved issues with its use of statistics,” Sir David said.

A spokesperson for the Department said it would respond to the letter “in due course”.

London, 12 October 2018

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