Daily Archives: February 13, 2012

A new military spending forecast from analysts at IHS Jane’s Defence suggests that China’s defence spending will accelerate substantially in the next three years.

This interactive graphic examines defence spending and gross domestic product growth in the region – as well as showing contextual numbers for the US – the world’s biggest spender on defence. 

Chris Cook

A fortnight ago, MPs caught a fleeting glimpse of a process that has, to this point, taken place discreetly: the Information Commissioner’s Office investigation into the office of Michael Gove over suspected breaches of the Freedom of Information Act.

A transcript is now available for Mr Gove’s appearance before the education select committee, when he answered questions on the topic. He said the DfE had not released data from one document in response to FoI requests because it was political.

The law is straightforward: only government data is covered by the FoI Act. Party political or private business is never captured, even if it is sent via a government email address. Official business, however it is transmitted, is always covered.

In circumstances where there is a mix of party, personal and government business, official data is released and the remainder is redacted. So the whole text would need to be party political and not official for the document not to be covered by the act.

We have published it below. 

Chris Cook

An article in the TES, an education magazine, has caused some consternation – and rightly so. In a comment piece, written by a teacher, the author appears to describe being irritated at a child who is determined to get an A grade rather than a B at A-level.

That is not what the government wants this teacher to be doing. We can tell that from the incentives that this sixth-form teacher faces. The author works at a sixth form college, and if that child fails to get an “A”, it will show up in his college’s results. Sixth forms are ranked on the average grade attained by their students, and pushing a kid from a B to an A shows up in the school point score.

Were this teacher teaching a 16 year-old, however, his behaviour would be perfectly rational. The central measure for schools is the proportion of children getting passes of a C or better in five full GCSEs including English and maths.

Both regulation and league tables drive focus on that measure. There are buckets of data that reveal schools which are particularly focussed on that borderline, but as long as schools do well enough in the core measure, heads can safely ignore everything else.

As Graham Stuart, Tory chair of the education select committee has said, this measure offers no reward for pressing a child to move from a C to an A. It is rational for teachers to focus on getting children over the D/C borderline.

This measure also creates problems for those of us who follow DfE statistics. 

Keith Fray

Something has got the English media — and to some extent the population at large — in a periodic fit of frenzy. Austerity starting to bite? One banker’s bonus too many?

No, the issue is who should succeed Fabio Capello as the manager of the England football team, often referred to as the ‘second most important job in the country’. Tottenham manager, Harry Redknapp, seems to be the likely successor.

Capello may be a hard act to follow. Despite an embarrassing exit from the 2010 World Cup at the hands of Germany, he surprisingly comes top in a table of England managers since the second world war ranked by the percentage of games won.