Hinds's defence (or is it defiance?) is ill-founded
The education secretary Damian Hinds defended the ‘broad thrust’ of data claims made by the Department of Education after its severe reprimand by the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA), Full Fact reports.
Full Fact followed this by its own analysis of DfE claims.
Much of this will be familiar to readers of this site but it’s worth recapping.
Damian Hinds’s defence of the DfE’s data use is ill-founded. And the PM’s repetition of them in the Commons after the UKSA condemnation is reprehensible.
Dodgy data use undermines trust in politicians
Full Fact is correct in saying that government spin on statistics is misleading. This in turn undermines trust in politicians and encourages cynicism about politicians’ announcements.
Media has role to play in debunking misleading claims but its track record on DfE data is poor
The media has a serious role to play in debunking politicians' claims. But far too often, most of the media has churned government press releases and announcements without checking. Would Michael Gove have got away with saying the UK had plummeted down league tables in the decade up to 2010 if journalists had bothered to check? If they had done so, then they would have discovered the OECD, which produces data based on the three-yearly global PISA tests of 15-year-olds, had warned that data from 2000 for the UK should not be used for comparison with 2009 results because the UK data was flawed. But Gove ignored this, the press picked up his damning critique and ran with it.
Gove based his entire reform programme on the plummeting down league tables myth. How different might English education look today if Gove had been blasted for his misleading us of OECD data in 2010?
ESSENTIAL READING: The first annual report from the IFS on education spending in England published in September is here. It's short and to-the-point. Main findings: