The way secondary schools in England are held accountable is changing. The aim of the change is to encourage schools to teach a broad curriculum and to better reward schools that teach all of their pupils well.
Previously school performance was measured by the percentage of pupils achieving a grade C or above in 5 subjects at GCSE (including maths and English). This was a fairly straightforward measure, but with some unintended flaws. Secondary schools were essentially incentivised by this system to focus their attention on pupils on the C/D grade borderline, to the detriment of those expected to achieve lower grades and those at the top of the year group going for an A or an A*. Many teachers, parents and pupils found this frustrating and the Coalition Government identified it as an important area for reform.
The result is the new Progress 8 measure. This will measure the performance of secondary schools based on pupils’ progress across up to 8 subjects from age 11 to age 16. English and maths results will be “double weighted” (so they affect the performance measures more) because of their importance. GCSE results for the 8 subjects will be compared to the national average for pupils with similar academic starting positions from age 11 (based on SATs results).
When you look at the new school performance measures you will see a score of between -1 and +1. +1 is what all schools will be aiming for. It means that on average their pupils are achieving 1 grade higher in each qualification than similar pupils across the country. A score of -1 means on average pupils are achieving 1 grade lower. Anything below -0.5 will be considered below the minimum standard and anything above +0.5 will be considered a very good score. Data for all secondary schools in England will be available from October, with revised data then provided in January.