When it comes to education, the prior attainment of pupils is a key factor in determining their future success. Understanding the prior attainment of pupils, and how it has been achieved, is crucial for teachers, parents and other education professionals who are looking to ensure that all pupils have the best possible learning experience. In this blog post, we will look at the importance of understanding a pupil’s prior attainment, discuss some common methods for determining such attainment and consider the implications for learning. We will then look at how Power BI can help schools to analyse their pupil’s prior attainment.

Assessing Pupil’s Prior Attainment

Assessing a pupil’s prior attainment is a key factor in determining their future success. The most common method of determining prior attainment is through SATs results at EYFS, key stage 1, key stage 2 and key stage 4, although other methods such as teacher assessments, interviews and written tests may also be used. In any case, it is important to assess the pupil’s prior attainment accurately in order to make sure that they get the best possible learning experience.

Tracking Pupil’s Progress

Once the pupil’s prior attainment has been determined, it is important to track their progress in order to ensure that they are making the most of their learning experience. Tracking pupils’ progress can help to identify areas of strength and weakness, as well as areas that could be improved upon. This can help teachers and parents to tailor their approach to teaching and learning in order to ensure that pupils are receiving the best possible education.

Implications for Learning

Understanding pupils’ prior attainment and tracking their progress can have a number of implications for learning. By being able to identify areas of strength and weakness, teachers and parents can tailor their approach to teaching and learning in order to ensure that each pupil receives the best possible education. This could include providing additional support or resources in areas where the pupil is struggling, as well as providing more challenging material to help them grow.

Why is prior attainment so important for many schools?

Schools are rightly proud of their pupils’ attainment, celebrating the number of GCSE grades, or scaled scores at key stage 2. Some schools, often located in poorer areas, or schools with high numbers of SEN pupils, or with pupils who have recently entered the country, or with pupils with English as a second language, typically have lower attainment overall. For these schools, it is essential that the progress of each pupil, often from very low baselines, is celebrated as much as high attainment from pupils with very high prior attainment.

Prior attainment as a baseline

Typically, schools will use prior attainment as a baseline to measure future progress. So teachers in key stage 1 will use the EYFS as a baseline for progress in year 1 and year 2, while key stage 2 teachers will use the teacher assessments at the end of key stage 1 to baseline progress during years 3 to 6. Secondary schools will use the key stage 2 scaled scores to measure progress to GCSEs, and sixth-form colleges will use those same GCSE results to baseline progress to A Levels.

Analysing pupil prior attainment in Power BI


Data-driven decision-making has become the norm in today’s educational system. With the help of Power BI, school administrators can easily access and analyse pupils’ prior attainment, enabling them to make informed decisions about their student’s learning. In the rest of this blog post, we will provide a comprehensive overview of how to use Power BI to analyse pupil prior attainment.

Gathering data

The first step in using Power BI to analyse pupil prior attainment is to gather the necessary data. This data can be sourced from a variety of sources, including student records, national assessments, and teacher assessments. Typically the data will already be present in your school MIS (management information system). Indeed, SATS data generally is automatically transferred between schools as part of the package of data exchanged via the CTF files that MIS systems use to transfer data. If the data isn’t already present, schools can use the pupil’s UPN number to access the data via one of the DfE websites. Once the data is gathered, the next step is to transform it into a format that is readable by Power BI.

Measuring prior attainment

Once the data is in Power BI we can use Power BI’s powerful programming language, DAX, to ‘aggregate’ the prior attainment. In Power BI, the concept of aggregation is key and refers to the mathematical formulas we over groups of pupils to create insights. This may sound more complicated than it is: the most used aggregations are AVERAGE and SUM, which do exactly what would imagine: they average out a value (scaled score, GCSE grade) or add up a value across a range of pupils. These measures are then plotted on each graph or visualisation.

Data visualisation

Once the data has been transformed into a readable format, it can be used to create informative data visualisations. Visualisations can help to identify trends and patterns in pupil prior attainment, as well as provide a snapshot of the overall performance of students. Power BI offers a variety of visualisation tools, such as tables, charts, and maps, to help make sense of the data. For example, you can use a chart to identify the average prior attainment of a cohort of students by year group, EAL status or postcode and use a map to identify areas of strength and weakness in a particular geographical area.

Generating insights with your senior leadership team

Once the data visualisations have been created, it is important to share them with the relevant people in your school. Power BI makes it easy to share data visualisations with other members of your senior leadership team, enabling them to stay up to date with the latest data and generate insights from the data. Power BI also allows users to collaborate on the data, meaning that colleagues can work together on the data to gain even more insights


Power BI is a powerful tool for analysing pupil prior attainment. It can be used to gather, transform, and visualise data, as well as generate insights from the data. By utilising Power BI, school administrators can make informed decisions about their students’ learning, helping to ensure that they are getting the best possible education.