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Public Sector Productivity - Education 2010

Released: 29 March 2012 Download PDF

Estimates  of public service education productivity are issued today in an article published by the Office for National Statistics.

Key points:

• The productivity estimates show a 3.4 per cent increase in 2010, following a rise of 2.7 per cent in 2009.   This increase in productivity is caused by a slow-down in input growth, while output growth continued to rise strongly.

• In contrast, between 2000 and 2008, productivity fell by an average of 1 per cent per year.


Inputs are:

• labour: teaching and support staff and government administration
• goods and services, such as schools equipment and energy costs
• capital services.

During the period under review (1996 – 2010), the key drivers of inputs growth have been increases in goods and services used, and in numbers of support staff such as teaching assistants.  Expenditure growth has been translated into around 17 per cent more labour, 60 per cent more capital services and 85 per cent more goods and services.

Volume of output

Output is an estimate of quantity (pupil and student numbers), which is then adjusted for quality.
The most important components of education quantity are primary and secondary school pupil numbers, accounting for 78 per cent of total pupils and students in 2009/10 (down from 82 per cent in 1995/6).

Absence rates have fallen since 1995/96 and the gap between secondary and primary sector absence rates is narrowing.

Primary schools’ contribution to volume growth was negative between 2000 and 2009, reflecting falls in pupil numbers.

In contrast, secondary education made a positive contribution to overall volume of 3.4 percentage points between 1996 and 2004, but as fewer primary pupils have entered into secondary schools the contribution of secondary schools has declined and has been negative since 2005.


Quality is based on percentage changes in exam results for 15-16 year olds in England, Wales and Scotland.  The size of the quality-adjustment factor varies across countries and over time.  It is having an increasing effect on the final estimates of education output due to strong growth in Average Point Score in GCSE and equivalent qualifications in England since 2003/04, and Wales since 2007/08. 

Background notes

  1. Productivity is measured by dividing output by inputs.

  2. The latest estimates of public service education productivity cover the period 1996 – 2010.  An updated Quality and Methodology Information (QMI) report will be published shortly on the ONS website.  This describes the intended uses of the estimates, their quality and a summary of the methods used to produce them.

  3. An associated article, Quality adjustment for public service education: triangulation is also published today.  This considers evidence on recent trends in education attainment in England and the implications for the current method of quality adjustment.  It concludes that further development work is needed.   
  4. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available from the Media Relations Office.
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  6. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.
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