The UK's Department of Education (DfE) has been using big data to suggest that becoming an academy (a type of school currently favoured by the government) improves pupils' results on the national standardised tests in English and Maths (SATs).
However, the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) has cast doubts on this analysis. Differences in results gains may not be connected with academy status. Instead, the differences appear to be part of a general trend for schools in England and Wales. Overall, those with poor SATs results in 2012-13 have closed the gap on those that previously had better results.
Non-academies that started with the same – generally poor – test results as sponsored academies in 2013 actually registered faster improvements in 2014.
The UKSA said that the DfE should in future state that the data as presented could not be used – by politicians or by others – to imply a causal link between academy status and improvements in test results.