2012 was the UK’s second-wettest year on record, according to full-year data from the Met Office. Four of the five wettest years on record have happened since 2000, and “extreme rainfall events” in particular are becoming more common, the agency’s meteorologists say.
This isn’t just a British trend. Natural disasters are on the rise worldwide – and the increase is being driven by water-related events. Read more
Last week, I went to Wolverhampton where I spoke at a local debate, organised by the university and Pat McFadden, the local MP, about the local authority’s school. I was the warm-up act for Lord Adonis, former schools minister, setting the scene about the city’s education system before his talk on lessons on school improvement.
It was interesting event – and the city is clearly considering its future and the role of education within it. There is – judging by my inbox – serious and deep interest in improving schools in the city. One of the things I sought to do was set out Wolvo’s position in relation to the rest of the country – and what statistics about the city tell us.
Here is my presentation: Read more
Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator, has written up a paper on Swedish school reforms, which you can download here. I thought it was worth using to quickly flag up two important statistical public policy points.
The context to this is that Sweden has, since the early 1990s, allowed private (including for-profit) institutions to enter the school system – and parallels are often drawn between it and the ongoing reforms of England’s school system. This paper, as Fraser rightly says, comes to the view that increasing the volume of private schools in an area is associated with improved results. Mikael Lindahl and Anders Böhlmark say:
If we transform our estimates to standard deviation (S.D.) units (using the variation across all individuals) we find that a 10 percentage point increase in the share of independent-school students has resulted in 0.07 S.D. higher average educational achievement at the end of compulsory school.
With the ONS publishing the results of its latest attempt to measure British people’s wellbeing, it’s worth a quick recap of how this compares to other countries’ methods as the collection of international wellbeing data is at an early stage.
Whilst the OECD is in the process of developing guidance to harmonise standards and approaches, existing surveys – including the World Values Survey, the European Social Survey and the Gallup World Poll – vary in approaches.
The ONS questions combined short-term measures with longer-term, more reflective indicators, on a scale of 0-10.
Gallup asks people to rate the quality of their life on a scale of 0-10, while the ESS and the WVS both ask respondents how satisfied they are with their life as a whole, again on a scale of 0-10. They also ask how happy they are, with the ESS again using a 11-point scale and the WVS offering a phrase-based menu of choices. Read more