School performance data: the basics

Performance data can be overwhelming at first glance, but most governors don't need to know too much detail to do a good job. Get started with our quick guide on what you do and don't need to know about data.

Last reviewed on 11 July 2022
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 35778
  1. What you need to know about data
  2. Things that can affect your data
  3. Where the data comes from
  4. Data doesn't exist in a vacuum – it's all relative
  5. How you can challenge the data (without being an expert)

We referred to guidance from the Department for Education on understanding school performance measures and data for governors in writing this article.

We'd also like to thank two of our associate governance experts, Brendan Hollyer and Ian Preston, for their help.

What you need to know about data

Your school's headline figures

All governors should know their school's headline numbers on:

  • Attendance
  • Pupil characteristics
  • Pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) and the pupil premium
  • Exclusions
  • Pupil attainment and progress – for the school as a whole and any specific pupil groups that receive special focus

Know how to question the data

What's going well – e.g whether pupils are making higher than expected progress in a subject What to be concerned about – e.g. maybe pupils are performing