Curriculum Implications of Attainment and Progress 8

The new Progress 8 measure is a performance indicator for schools from summer 2016 designed to show the achievement of all students, not just those who’ve crossed the C threshold. Progress 8 is the difference between a student’s KS2 average fine level and their Attainment 8 score. The shorthand for Attainment 8 is the results of the student’s best 8 subjects. However, this is not entirely accurate and the way that Attainment and Progress 8 are calculated may have serious implications for your school’s curriculum design, in particular the subject offer to low attaining pupils.

Briefly, this is how attainment 8 is calculated. There are four categories of result and certain subjects can count for each category. The full length, official explanation is here.

Maths: Only maths qualifications which count towards EBacc can be used. (From 2017 this means either the new GCSE, AS Maths or AS Further Maths). If one maths qualification is taken then it is doubled. If a pupil takes the mathematics linked pair GCSEs (Methods in Mathematics and Applications of Mathematics) the two results will be added together.

English: If a student sits English and English Lit GCSE the highest score is doubled in this category. If they only sit English GCSE it counts but is not doubled.

EBacc: The student’s best three grades that count towards the EBacc are included in this category. EBacc subjects are Science GCSEs (Core, Additional, Biology, etc), Computer Science, History, Geography and Languages. A full list of EBacc qualifications is here. Note that English/English Lit, BTEC Science and Statistics cannot be included here.

Open Element: This is the three best grades from any subject that hasn’t been counted already. EBacc subjects, whichever English/English Lit not included in the English category, Art, Drama, Music, Approved Vocational qualifications in 2016 and BTEC Science in 2016 (but not beyond!). A list of non GCSE qualifications for 2017 is here

AS-Levels: Note that where a student sits a GCSE and an AS Level in a subject the AS will count, even if it has a lower points value. AS grades A and B will be worth more than GCSE A*.


Attainment 8 is therefore the sum of 10 results (8 subjects with Maths and English being counted twice). Many schools however will find that because of their curriculum offer not all students will get all ten.

English Lit: So that all English grades are counted twice all students must be entered for Lit as well.

Missing EBaccs: Assuming all students take at least two science GCSEs then they must also be entered for a GCSE in Computer Science, History, Geography or a Language in order to fill their EBacc slots. If students take only Core Science they will need two from that list and if BTEC Science three.

AS Gamble: Because AS results count even if the GCSE in the subject has a higher value, entering students for AS is a gamble. For high performing students who get As and Bs at AS it will boost your Progress 8 score, for others it may reduce it. Grade C at AS is worth 7 the same as an A at GCSE. Full points scores can be found of p26 of this doc.

Progress 8 poses a challenge to schools. Pupils should study at KS4 the qualifications that give them the best learning opportunities but in order to maximise the school's Progress 8 score a certain number of EBacc subjects must be taken by all pupils.

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