This briefing responds to recent concerns expressed in the media (e.g. ‘The strange case of the vanishing GCSE pupils’, Guardian 21 January 2014) that schools may be influencing their performance table outcomes by securing other provision for their lower attaining pupils prior to the January census in the year performance tables are published. It looks at how current census collection arrangements have arisen, changes being implemented or planned for the future, and how census data connects with examination results and other data through the National Pupil Database. It then considers issues raised for schools, local authorities and the Department for Education (DfE), including the monitoring of schools through performance tables and the level to which data arrangements support the tracking of vulnerable children.

This briefing will be of interest to elected members and senior officers with responsibility for education and children’s services.

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