Cut, paste - fail

One of the better schools in Wales has this graphic in their prospectus:


I've not altered the size nor the resolution of the image. Can you read it? As a parent could you tell what it was showing?

What the school has done, is to copy / paste the image as supplied direct from the Welsh Government in their annual data return.

Yes, the data is available, so the school could have reconstructed it as an actual chart, not an image.

I wonder if this shows:
  1. A lack of understanding of who reads these charts
  2. A lack of understanding that the resolution of the image was too low, so that detail could not be seen
  3. A lack of empathy with the reader
  4. A lack of data skill to recreate the chart
  5. No proof reading by the actual audience?

The challenge with this chart, is that there are 3 distinct comparisons:

  • Subject to subject
  • Boy / Girl
  • School / Local Authority and Wales

Simple Excel-fu to recreate the same chart:(I removed the series for Welsh as this was an English medium school, so the school's data was "0" in all categories.)


In this chart, the data is grouped by gender, then subject and then school / LA / Wales.

As a parent - I wonder which is the most important? Possibly the School / Local Authority / Wales comparison. So, let's group by that first:

The same data, now grouped by: school, gender, subject.

All the school level data is in the first part of the chart. I'm not sure if this is "easier" to read - I guess it depends on what you are trying to convey.

One more spin on the data might be to group it: School, subject, gender:


This representation is my personal favourite - it allows me to see the school level data (left hand side), it then shows me the subjects and if I focus in on each bar-of-three, I can separate the gender details if needed.

Call to action:
  1. Just because Welsh Government supply you data, don't cut and paste it into a prospectus - (a) you can't see it and (b) maybe there's a better, more meaningful way to display it.
  2. Look a pivot tables and charts - they allow you to slice / dice the data to get the best view


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