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School performance measures explained


Most of the subjects taken by students this year (2018) will be new GCSEs.

What's changed? 

  • Results will be graded with numbers (9 to 1) instead of letters (A* to G).
  • 9 will be the highest grade.
  • The new grades show that more challenging subject content has been studied.
  • Fewer people will be awarded grade 9 than were awarded A*.
  • Employers and universities, who previously asked for a grade C, will now require at least grade 4.
  • Students who do not achieve a grade 4 or above in English and maths will need to continue to study these subjects.
  • English language, English literature and maths were the first to be graded from 9 to 1 in 2017, with another 20 subjects graded 9 to 1 this year.
  • The new grades better differentiate between students of different abilities.
  • Ofqual has ensured that students will not been disadvantaged by being the first to take the new GCSEs.

 This table shows how the new 9 to 1 grades compare with A* to G:

Grading new GCSEs from 2017
 New grading structure Current grading structure










 U  U

The exam boards use statistics to help set grade boundaries, so while the content and assessment have changed, the grades are still awarded fairly and your child should not be disadvantaged by the changes.

It will take until summer 2020 for all GCSE subjects to move to the new grade scale.

Progress and Attainment 8

Attainment 8

Each qualification your child takes in Key Stage 4 (GCSE) is worth a number of points.

Attainment 8 is the average number of points your child achieves across a set of eight Government approved qualifications.

The eight approved qualifications can be a combination of:

  • English (compulsory and worth double points);
  • Mathematics (compulsory and worth double points);
  • Three other English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects which are generally sciences, computer science, geography, history and languages
  • Three further subjects, which can be from the range of EBacc subjects, or can be any other GCSE or approved, high-value arts, academic, or vocational qualifications.

Your son or daughter doesn’t have to study for eight qualifications, but if they don’t, or if the qualification they are studying for is not from the bucket of qualifications approved by the Government, then they will not get any points for it.

Progress 8

Progress 8 is a number that tells you how much progress your child makes from the end of primary school to the end of secondary school.

It compares your child’s achievements in a set of eight qualifications with those of children in other schools with the same ‘starting point’ which is based on their assessment results at the end of primary school.

The Progress 8 score will range from -1.0 to +1.0.

Because the Progress 8 score compares how much progress your child is making with other children, a score of zero does not mean that your child is not making any progress, it means that they are making a similar level of progress to children in other schools who had the same ‘starting point’. A positive score means they are making more progress and a negative score that they are making less.Progress 8 Scores

Progress 8 scores for individual children are then added together and an average can be worked out for the whole school. This will give you an idea of whether, as a group, children in your child’s school are making more or less progress compared to similar pupils in other schools.

The Department for Education have created this three minute video to help explain what Progress 8 is all about.

How can you use Progress and Attainment 8?

Progress and Attainment 8 measures are there to measures school performance, rather than an individual child’s performance, although your child’s individual results are used to calculate the measure. If you’re curious about your child’s individual scores, you can ask for more information from their teachers.

The Progress and Attainment 8 scores for a school give you an indication of how well a school is supporting their students across a broad range of subjects and across all levels of ability.

It’s particularly helpful to know this information when you’re choosing a school for your child.

The Department for Education and local authorities will use the scores to see where schools need support to improve.

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