FAQs

Why is my school not in the database? 

There are 14,661 primary schools and 2,868 secondary schools with usable data in the Families of Schools database. We are unable to show the data for 1,170 primary schools and 17 secondary schools because the number of pupils is too low to publish the data and protect confidentiality. In addition, some schools may be not be visible because the school is too new to have any published data. These will be added to the database as data becomes available. 

Who created the Families of Schools Database? 

EEF commissioned the Fischer Family Trust (FFT) to create the database. FFT data is used in the calculations. 

Why do my Ofsted Dashboard figures give different figures from the EEF? 

The calculations for some of the figures (e.g. value added) uses FFT methodology, and will therefore differ slightly from published DfE/Ofsted figures. 

Can you help me make sense of the data? 

The summary table always uses the latest year of data unless the pupil numbers are too small to publish a break down of results. In these cases, a five year average is used for primary school. Elsewhere, five year averages are used for primary schools and three year averages are used for secondary. Longer term averages guard against an unusual set of results in any one year and give a better indication of the overall performance of a school, rather than relying on one year of data. 

How does the Families of Schools help us close the attainment gap? 

The FoS highlights an important principle about the attainment gap in England: the national gap is explained by the difference in performance between schools, and the difference in performance of groups of pupils within schools. Research suggests that the within-school variation contributes far more to the existence of the national attainment gap than the between school variation 1.

Looking at the attainment gap in this way, the challenge for a school is two-fold:

1.For an overview of the literature, see Wiliam, D (2013), The importance of teaching, in Excellence and Equity, IPPR, London

What is the Families of Schools database designed to do? 

Two things:

Taken together this approach provides a structure for schools to be challenged by the performance of similar schools and supported by them to improve. The geographical sifting tool in the first graph allows you to identify how the schools within your region that otherwise may not have been part of your support networks, could be the source of support and challenge.

The data presented in the Families tool provides aggregated information on the performance of pupil groups in each school. Of course, the needs of individual pupils within these groups vary enormously and any gap closing strategy should focus on the specific needs of each child. FFT Aspire provides more detailed information on the individual children in your school that can inform your strategy. At the foot of the Families page, there is a link to more information about Aspire and a login option.

How does the Families of Schools database link in to the Teaching and Learning Toolkit? 

The evidence compiled in the Teaching and Learning Toolkit identifies the most promising interventions and approaches to close the attainment gap. It is not a guaranteed formula for success, but it does provide a starting point for evidence-informed decision-making, and maps out promising routes for schools to consider.

The growing bank of EEF project evaluation reports is also an important resource. They provide an independent assessment of effectiveness. As the evidence-base develops, alongside our understanding of how sensitive specific interventions are to context, we intend to provide more detailed guidance on which interventions and approaches are likely to hold most promise for specific characteristics of schools.