Monthly Archives: August 2012

Chris Cook

Something I touched on in today’s coverage of the London school system is ethnicity: in short, everyone does better than white children, with poor white children particularly far behind. Here are 2010-11′s GCSE results, split by ethnicity, using the FT measure:

Some of the lines cut out suddenly: that is because there were fewer than 100 kids in those vingtiles, and the lines go absolutely nuts on such low sample sizes. For reference, when I say “white”, I mean pupils who have self-identified as “White British”.

That obviously has a regional effect: London has a lot of ethnic minority kids. But there is a chicken-and-egg question. Is the capital so good because it has these children, or do they do so well because they are in London? Well, the answer is “both”. Read more

Chris Cook

A big story we have published records the stunning improvement in London’s schools that has taken place over the past decade (also: analysis on the topic).

As part of the number-crunching I did for to that story, I can also provide an update from our measure on social mobility in schools – how much does poverty damage your school results? It’s not good news, alas.

Last year, we reported that our educational mobility index had been rising for five consecutive years – from 2006-10. Unfortunately, this year, things deteriorated a little. That blip upwards in 2010-11 means poverty exerted a bigger influence on the school results of children in 2010-11 than it had in 2009-10.

As a reminder, for those of you who have not committed these things to memory: we measure this through quite a simple metric. First, we draw our old friend, the Graph of Doom, which shows how exam results interact with poverty:

To come up with this graph, we divide the country into hundredths, by their neighbourhood deprivation. Then we plot each grouping’s average score on the line, according to a simple performance measure (which I’ve tweaked since we last did this). Read more

Kate Allen

The record-low number of strikes in 2010 is in part a reflection of the UK’s shift away from a mass-labour economy, with fewer people being employed in large-scale white-collar unionised workplaces. Strike activity in the mining and manufacturing sectors has dropped off sharply, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. Working days lost per 1,000 employees were close to zero in these industries in 2009 and 2010.

The service sector now has the highest rate of strikes at 16 days lost per 1,000 people employed. This is mostly due to a handful of high-profile strike days in the public sector and by transport workers. Just over half the strikes measured occurred in the public sector, yet they accounted for nearly three-quarters of the total days lost to strike action. In particular, six stoppages lasting for three days each accounted for 71 percent of the total working days lost to strikes in 2010. This is because the strikes were so large – involving 91,800 workers in total.

But it is a long way from the industrial unrest of the 1970s, when 12.9 million days were lost on average each year. Some 132,500 workers were involved in labour disputes in 2010, compared to an annual average of 1 million in the 1980s.

Source: Office for National Statistics

 Read more

Kate Allen

As we have seen the UK’s mortgage market contracted slightly in 2011, driven primarily by the state-backed lenders. This comes despite considerable sums of new business being signed during the year by those banks.

According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders data, the UK’s biggest lender, Lloyds, lent £28bn in 2011, down only slightly from its 2010 total of £30bn. Yet its outstanding balances fell by £8.7bn. In simple terms, Lloyds isn’t pushing money out of the door at the same rate at which it is being paid in. You could call this the ‘churn rate’. Lloyds’ churn rate is slowing down, and it is not alone in this. Its fellow state-backed bank Royal Bank of Scotland shed a net £2.2bn, despite doing new business of £14.6bn during the year. Read more

The coalition’s drive to open access to official data was welcome, but  more needed to be done to make information comprehensible, according to a report by the House of Commons’ public accounts committee, which monitors the effectiveness of public spending.

Official willingness to publish data was not enough, the committee said, since the information provided could be rather impenetrable. Some of the data are published as very large files that cannot be opened using a conventional home computer. Other files are difficult to interpret or can be only understood with the aid of large glossaries.

“It is simply not good enough to dump large quantities of raw data into the public domain, “ said Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee. “[Data] must be accessible, relevant and easy for us all to understand. Otherwise the public cannot use them.”

 Read more