RSS endorses regulator’s criticism of DfE stats claims

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The RSS has issued a strongly worded statement regarding the Department for Education's 'misuse' of statistics regarding government funding of education.

RSS President, Sir David Spiegelhalter, said: 'The Department for Education has had multiple warnings over the years about misusing statistics. For a Department that is in charge of the nation’s numerical skills, this is getting embarrassing. Ministers need to get a grip and ensure they use numbers in a trustworthy way.

'As the UK Statistics Authority has shown, the DfE has recently been using statistics selectively, in a way that can rightly be termed "spinning".'

The RSS believes it is extraordinary that a Secretary of State should have to receive a letter, from the statistics regulator, which refers to:

  • 'Serious concerns' about his Department’s conduct
  • The spinning of figures 'to misrepresent changes in school funding'
  • Further spinning which 'exaggerated' figures on school spending
  • A high-profile claim by the Minister of State for School Standards that is simply 'not correct'
  • A departmental claim which 'does not give a full picture'
  • Repeated instances of misconduct which 'risk undermining' trust and confidence in official data.

The regulator has even felt it necessary to seek the Secretary of State’s reassurance that, first, his Department remains committed to the Code of Practice for Statistics and, secondly, that DfE will start behaving in a manner that 'does not mislead'.

Sir David added: 'It’s the fifth time in a year that the DfE has been taken to task by the UK Statistics Authority. Let us hope it is the last. The Department’s misuse of statistics really needs to stop.'

UK Statistics Authority David Spiegelhalter Department for Education