Statistics, damned statistics and Department of Education statistics …

“The education department’s three latest cases of statistics misuse

In his letter to Damian Hinds, the education secretary, Sir David Norgrove, the UK Statistics Authority chairman, cites three recent examples of the education department putting out false or misleading figures.

Here is the first.

Last week, the minister of state for school standards [Nick Gibb] wrote that, in an international survey of reading abilities of nine-year-olds, England “leapfrogged up the rankings last year, after decades of falling standards, going from 19th out of 50 countries to 8th.”This is not correct. Figures published last year show the increase was from 10th place in 2011 to 8th place in 2016.

Here is the second.

My attention has also been drawn to a recent tweet and blog issued by the department regarding education funding. As the authority’s director general for regulation has noted in a letter to the department today, figures were presented in such a way as to misrepresent changes in school funding. In the tweet, school spending figures were exaggerated by using a truncated axis, and by not adjusting for per pupil spend. In the blog about government funding of schools (which I note your department has now updated), an international comparison of spend which included a wide range of education expenditure unrelated to publicly funded schools was used, rather than a comparison of school spending alone. The result was to give a more favourable picture. Yet the context would clearly lead readers to expect that the figures referred to spending on schools.

And here is the third.

The shadow secretary of state for education [Angela Rayner] has written to express concerns about your use of a figure that appears to show a substantial increase in the number of children in high performing schools, as judged by OFSTED. While accurate as far as it goes, this figure does not give a full picture. It should be set in the context of increasing pupil numbers, changes to the inspection framework and some inspections that are now long in the past, as an earlier letter to the department from the Office of Statistics Regulation pointed out.

In his letter Norgrove says these cases follow four other instances in the last year when the authority wrote to the department with concerns about its presentation of data. “I regret that the department does not yet appear to have resolved issues with its use of statistics,” Norgrove says.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2018/oct/08/labour-and-tory-mayors-unite-to-demand-they-take-back-control-of-regional-spending-after-brexit-politics-live

Report that Randall-Johnson was with Swire and Minister of Health at Ottery St Mary

“If you thought Health Secretary Matt Hancock was a safe pair of hands for the NHS after Jeremy Hunt think again. Comedy antics ensued when the Hancock turned up at Ottery hospital. First he hid, then he hurried.

Matt may well have been doing a favour for a rich mate, East Devon money-bags MP Hugo Swire, but at what price, making him appear a hapless lacky to East Devon’s Tory elite.

Hugo by-passed the Department of Health to take Matt hospital surfing. They went to Budleigh Salterton Hospital, before popping into in Ottery.

East Devon Councillor and Devon County Council Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee Councillor Claire Wright was on hand, along with some residents, to ask the Health Secretary some questions.

Unfortunately, he was holed up solely with a number of East Devon Tories, including Sara Randall Johnson, chair of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee. East Devon MP, Mr Swire and his aides were also present.

Have a read of Claire’s account. It certainly seems weird, so does the behaviour of the communication people of the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group.

‘Why was he so frightened about talking to a dozen residents, and the local county councillor?’ asks Claire.

‘I had been quite encouraged that he was visiting the hospital and wanted to hear from him that he will protect Ottery’s and other hospitals. After all, Mr Hancock commands the NHS and also NHS Property Services, which now owns many hospital buildings in the area.

‘They are all at risk of possible closure and sell-off due to the lack of funding available to pay the enormous rents NHS Property Services demands.

‘But his cowardly escape bid simply gave the impression of a man who does not wish to be even remotely accountable.’

But that’s not all. Here’s the response of an East Devon constituent, as posted by Channel 5 News Health Correspondent Catherine Jones (check out the picture).

[There follow many hilarious comments on Swire’s justification for his actions and a You Tube video of Hancock doing a karaoke version of “Can’t Stop Me Now]

http://www.theprsd.co.uk/2018/09/27/first-he-hides-then-he-hurries-health-secretary-hancock-hot-foots-it-on-east-devon-hospital-visit/

“Government accused of covering up schools cuts with misleading figures”

“The government has been accused of attempting to cover up school budget cuts in England, after the UK’s statistics watchdog said it would investigate ministers’ use of spending figures that included private school fees to fend off criticism.

The UK Statistics Authority said it had received complaints about a recent claim, made by the Department for Education and the schools standards minister, Nick Gibb, that the UK’s spending on education was the third highest in the world.

But the claim, based on OECD figures, was revealed by the BBC to include university student tuition loans as well as the fees paid by private school pupils, which fall outside the DfE’s budget.

The department also faces scrutiny over its continued use of a claim that there are 1.9 million more children in schools rated by Ofsted as good or outstanding than at the time of the 2010 election.

“The UK Statistics Authority and the Office for Statistics Regulation are investigating the concerns raised, and will publish their findings shortly,” a spokesperson for the regulator said.

Last Friday saw a protest by more than 2,000 headteachers over school funding cuts in England. In response, the DfE defended its record, and included the statement: “The OECD has recently confirmed that the UK is the third highest spender on education in the world, spending more per pupil than countries including Germany, Australia and Japan.”

Gibb later repeated the same claim during an interview on the BBC, and the DfE published the statement in a blog on its website.

But the OECD data was comparing education spending as a percentage of national output, and included government spending in England and elsewhere along with university tuition loans for students as well as fees paid by pupils at private schools.

The OECD figures also include government spending on education in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which in most cases is devolved to national assemblies in those countries and is not counted within the DfE’s budget.

Jules White, the headteacher of a secondary school in West Sussex who helped organise last Friday’s protest, said the DfE was attempting to cover up the “savage cuts that have been made to school budgets” .

“At every stage, the government and Department for Education has refused to acknowledge an overwhelming independent body of evidence which clearly confirms that the cuts have gone too far,” White said.

“Ministers have now been caught out and we appeal to them to stop the pattern of using dreadfully misleading information which is unfair to educational professionals and most crucially to parents and pupils.”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has estimated that funding per pupil in England fell by 8% between 2010 and 2018, with 66,000 more children in state schools this year than the year before but with 5,000 fewer teachers. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/oct/04/government-accused-of-covering-up-schools-cuts-with-misleading-figures

Telegraph pays Boris Johnson £275,000 a year for 10 hours work per month

“Boris Johnson was re-employed by the Daily Telegraph on a salary of £275,000 a year for his weekly column, it has been revealed.

The Conservative MP and potential leadership candidate had to give up his newspaper job when he became foreign secretary in 2016, forfeiting the substantial second income.

However, the parliamentary register of members’ interests shows he was immediately rehired on the same rate after resigning this summer, with no attempt made by the Daily Telegraph – which has experienced years of job cuts and falling profits – to push down his salary.

The former foreign secretary said he spends 10 hours a month writing his 1,100 word column, equivalent to a pay rate of £2,291/hour – or around £4.80 a word.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/oct/03/daily-telegraph-rehires-boris-johnson-on-275000-salary

Very stupid Tory Minister says councils are not getting cuts just more flexible ways to earn income!!”

Owl says: As John Crace (Guardian) puts it – top Tories these days seem to be fighting over their only brain cell!

“Treasury minister Liz Truss has been branded “innumerate or inept” after falsely claiming that local councils are not facing cuts.

Philip Hammond’s deputy insisted the government was simply giving town halls more “flexibility” to raise money themselves, rather than slashing their funds.

“We are not making cuts to local authorities,” Ms Truss told BBC Newsnight.

In fact, the Local Government Association highlighted this week that funding will be reduced by 36 per cent next year, the largest annual deduction in almost a decade.

And the organisation’s Conservative leader has warned that more councils will go bust unless ministers “address the funding crisis”.

Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s local government spokesman, condemned Ms Truss’s comments, saying: “This shows she’s either totally innumerate or completely inept.

“Councils of all political persuasions are edging towards the financial cliff edge, and it’s a Tory Council, Northamptonshire, that’s the first to go bump on their watch, with others not far behind. …”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/liz-truss-local-council-cuts-budget-treasury-minister-newsnight-conservative-conference-tory-party-a8566111.html

A few newspaper headlines from the Tory Party conference

An alternative view of the conference!

MP’s ‘horror’ at getting £4.2bn to digitise NHS with no plan
(BBC News)

Conservative MP slams party conference ‘narrative’ as he cannot recall a single ‘real announcement’
(Sky News)

Outrage as Tory uni society picture shows one student with Hitler-style moustache while another sports ‘F*** the NHS’ T-shirt
(Daily Mirror)

Don’t Always Believe What Tory MPs Say On TV, Says Party Grandee
(Huffington Post)

Education Secretary Damian Hinds Could Face Probe From Statistics Watchdog Over Conference Speech
(Huffington Post)

Boris Johnson And Jeremy Hunt Described As ‘D*ckheads’ By Former Tory Treasury Minister Jim O’Neill
(Huffington Post)

“NHS faces £2.7bn cuts after government pension slip-up”

“The NHS will suffer £2.7bn in new cuts after the government miscalculated the pension costs of public sector workers, a new analysis from the House of Commons library has shown.

The government has offered to cover the NHS’s additional costs up until 2020, but the final two years of additional pension costs totalling £2.7bn until the next election will have to be covered by the public service.
This could have paid for the salaries of a total of 61,912 nurses, said the Labour Party, who released the research.

They say the government could have miscalculated pension costs for all public sector workers by as much as £4bn a year.

Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the treasury, Peter Dowd, said: “Billions of pounds are being quietly cut from our NHS due to a poisonous cocktail of disastrous economic mismanagement and spiteful behaviour.”

“These cuts are the equivalent of paying the salary of over 61,000 nurses a year. Nurses whom we desperately need after 8 years of crushing austerity in our NHS.”

Labour say the initial announcement was snuck out in a statement late last Thursday with no parliamentary scrutiny.

The Conservatives’ annual party conference is currently underway in Birmingham, and will publish its next budget on 29 October.

Dowd added: “The Chancellor must immediately own up and commit to meeting these extra costs, not just push them on to slashed and struggling public services.”

“All this just goes to show, you cannot trust the Tories with our NHS.”
This comes after the government pledged more than £145m for emergency care and 900 extra beds ahead of the winter earlier this month.

But experts have been critical, saying the funding won’t be nearly enough, especially if the UK is faced with the “extremely challenging conditions”.
General and acute bed occupancy was at a whopping 94.4% with an average of 20 trusts having over 99% occupancy each day.”

http://www.nationalhealthexecutive.com/Health-Care-News/nhs-faces-27bn-cuts-after-government-pension-slipup-