A statement published on the DCSF website says: “The Pre-release Access to Official Statistics Order 2008 that came into force on 1 December 2008 and the Code of Practice for Official Statistics published on 6 January 2009 means the Department must change the arrangements for the release of the two sets of achievement and attainment tables from previous years.”
Would you like that in plain English?
News organisations have complained it will be “impossible” for them to produce their usual secondary school league tables for England next week. They usually get the official results a week in advance, under embargo, to compile and check tables supplements. But new restrictions on the release of official statistics have cut this preparation time to 24 hours. The rules say the public benefit of such prior access must outweigh the resulting detriment to public trust.
The media have been told they can have the school data on the morning of Wednesday, 14 January for publication at 0930GMT the following day, when the official attainment tables will appear on the DCSF website.
It is a mark of the incredulity and anger among education correspondents that they have collaborated in getting their organisations to write to the DCSF and the UK Statistics Authority.
This letter is supported by all the education correspondents and editors at these media organisations.
James Harding, Editor, The Times
Tony Gallagher, Deputy Editor, The Daily Telegraph
Jonathan Grun, Editor of the Press Association
Alan Rusbridger, Editor, The Guardian
Helen Boaden, Director, BBC News
Ian Birrell, Deputy Editor, The Independent
Keith Poole, Daily Mail News Editor
Doug Wills, Managing Editor, Evening Standard.
The change comes in the wake of the notorious selective publication of knife crime statistics – for which Home Secretary Jacqui Smith apologised to Parliament.