Data Points

Our curated feed of data stories in the FT and elsewhere

Chris Cook

At the moment, groups putting forwards bids to open free schools – new academies opened from scratch – are finding out whether they have been approved for 2013 opening. This is an opportune moment to take a quick look at this programme.

Last week, I explained part of why the “converter academies” programme is so popular: it usually comes with a cash incentive to join in. But free schools have their own funding wrinkle. This one encourages primary free schools to be smaller than other local schools.

Using the DfE’s formula for free school funding, we can work out how much a primary free school would get in revenue (day-to-day) funding, plotted against how big it is, if it were to open at full capacity in the London borough of Camden in 2012-13.

Camden free school funding per pupil

This is the output of a formula: every primary free school gets a £95,000 payment plus a certain amount per child, which varies from borough to borough. In Camden, once you have counted in the pupil premium, SEN (special educational needs) funding and other funding, each extra child brings in, on average, an extra £5,870.

But the structure of the formula – a lump sum plus a roughly flat per-pupil payment – means that the amount you receive on average falls as the school grows. This is because the £95,000 lump sum (which is the same for all boroughs) gets shared between more and more pupils.

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With bank profitability unlikely to recover to pre-crisis levels, many investors now argue that cutting staff wages is the only reliable route to higher dividends.

This interactive graphic shows the results of an FT analysis of how the “spoils” to be divided between shareholders and employees at each of the world’s 13 big international banks have changed since 2000. With the pot of “spoils” defined as net profits with staff costs added back in, the chart shows the proportions allocated to dividends, pay and retained earnings.

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Chris Cook

Grammar schools are a seductive idea: skim off high performing children at the age of 11 for education together. At the moment, there are 164 such schools in England, in a few counties which did not manage to slough them off. But their success is a myth. Read more

Chris Cook

What measures should we use for spotting schools that are effective at helping poor children? Not the one proposed by the Department for Education. Read more

Martin Stabe

What we’re reading today in the world of statistics, open data and data journalism:

We like a good political choropleth around here, and Sunday’s European election extravaganza did not disappoint in the psephological cartography department.

A good map of the Greek results can be found at, Le Monde has the obligatory map of the French presidential election par département, and Michael Neutze’s site Wahlatlas covered the results in the German state of Schleswig-HolsteinRead more

When the Office for National Statistics’ chief economist announced the first official estimate of economic output on Wednesday morning, he faced as many questions about the accuracy of the data as he did about the data themselves.

“We have no reason to believe these figures are any less reliable than would usually be the case,” Joe Grice of the ONS said several times in a press conference about the 0.2 per cent drop in output in the first quarter.

But not everyone was reassured. Kevin Daly, the UK economist at Goldman Sachs, called the ONS estimate “unbelievable”. Peter Dixon, the UK economist at Commerzbank, said: “Frankly, I don’t believe it.”

They were sceptical because unofficial indicators over the past three months had suggested the economy was growing again. The popular Markit purchasing managers’ index surveys of the construction, manufacturing and services sectors, for example, were consistent with output growth of about 0.5 per cent in the first quarter.

On Wednesday, the CBI employers’ group released a survey of the manufacturing sector that appeared to show improving orders and output volumes in the three months to April and the first improvement in sentiment in a year.

Disagreements over the reliability of official data are not uncommon, but they are important this time because the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee appears to have sided with the sceptics, making it less likely the MPC will approve more quantitative easing next month.

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