Tables checking is back...

Emma Maltby

The School and College Checking Exercise is back in 2022 following a two-year hiatus, due to the pandemic. 

But what does this mean?

Whether you’re a senior leader or support staff, if you haven’t already heard the phrase ‘Tables Checking’, it’s just a matter of time. 

Tables Checking is an opportunity to ensure the correct students are included in your school’s (or college’s) performance data for the relevant academic year. The Government uses information on pupil characteristics and prior attainment, together with attainment data to produce this.

Data is uploaded to a secure website and if schools find any issues with results data or pupils attributed to them they can request amendments, according to strict guidelines. These can change annually and are yet to be released for 2021/22.

If we’re not sure what it means for us, or we’ve forgotten what to do, read on to find out more…

It is important to note the information below is based on what the DfE has released so far. Having experience in schools ourselves (we have the Tables Checking t-shirts!), we thought it’d be useful to break this down by Key Stage in a handy timeline to help you manage your workload.

Tips for completing the checking exercise

  • Prepare - read through the guidance thoroughly before beginning the exercise.
  • Make use of tools already available - exports from the tables checking website and your MIS, with some Excel magic can really help speed up the checking process. MATCH & VLOOKUP will be your new best friends when comparing DfE data against your own. A powerful PC will go a long way, so bare this in mind if you move to a quieter room whilst doing the checks.
  • Share the workload - if you’re not very confident with Excel, ask a colleague to assist you (bribe with tea and biscuits if necessary).
  • Schedule time out - disturbances really do prolong the time it takes so make sure you can have uninterrupted time to complete the checks. I know this is easier said than done! Don’t be afraid to stress the importance of the exercise to facilitate this if necessary - it’s the accuracy of your school’s or college’s results after all! Take advantage of any weekly meetings with your SLT data lead, and if you’re not already having these, arrange them!
  • Don’t try to rush it - it will take as long as it takes. Also take notes about what worked well for you and what didn’t as it’ll help when doing the next year’s table checking exercise. Although the guidelines could be updated, it's worth keeping or saving a copy. Review your notes with your SLT data lead so they are aware of pinch points throughout the academic year.
  • Don’t feel under pressure - try not to leave it until the last minute. Also, do follow the guidelines and don’t feel pressured to report incorrectly or inaccurately.
  • Seek help if necessary - every school has to do this exercise so don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are groups on social media where valuable information can be found.

Let us know if this blog helped and feel free to share your tips from this year’s exercise!

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