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Key Stage 4 GCSE and equivalent results (Year 11)

Instead of grades A*-G, new reformed GCSEs are graded 9-1:

  • Grade 7 equates to grade A,
  • Grade 4 equates to grade C, and
  • Grade 1 equates to grade G.

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You can download this guide as an easy to read pdf booklet by clicking HERE.


What are Reformed GCSEs?

In 2017, pupils sat reformed GCSEs in English language, English literature and maths for the first time. Between 2018 and 2020, other GCSEs are also being changed to the new reformed GCSEs standard.

Instead of grades A*-G, new reformed GCSEs are graded 9-1:

  • Grade 7 equates to grade A,
  • Grade 4 equates to grade C, and
  • Grade 1 equates to grade G.

In order to allow reformed GCSEs to be compared with non-reformed GCSEs, ASs and non-GCSEs, all grades in all qualifications have been allocated a score scale. For example, a GCSE grade A* equates to 8.5 points, and an AS grade A equates to 10.75 points.

Full details are contained in the Secondary Accountability Measures documents, available on the gov.uk website.

 

Where reformed GCSEs are available, then non-reformed GCSEs will not count towards schools’ performance. This is to “encourage schools to ensure that all students benefit from the reformed qualifications”.


What is the Pass Mark?

Grade 4 represents a “standard pass”, and is stated as being a “credible achievement for a young person that should be valued as a passport to future study and employment”.

However, it should be noted that schools are free to create their own requirements for future study; schools may require for example a grade 8 in Maths in order to study Further Maths at A level.

Grade 5 is recognised as a “strong pass” for the purposes of school accountability only.


What are the headline performance measures?

The following are the headline performance measures:

  • Progress 8 (adjusted)
  • Attainment 8
  • EBacc entry – the percentage of pupils entering the English Baccalaureate
  • EBacc attainment – as measured by the Average Point Score (APS)
  • Percentage of pupils staying in education or employment for at least two terms after Key Stage 4.
  • Percentage of pupils achieving a grade 5 or above in English (Language or Literature) and Maths. (The National average is around 40% for all schools, and 43% for state-funded schools).

There are many other measures which individual schools can also use, including the percentage of pupils achieving a grade 4 or above in English and maths.

However, the above 6 measures are the headline performance measures.

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What is the EBacc?

The English Baccalaureate or EBacc measures the achievement of pupils who have gained GCSEs in the following subjects:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science (taking either Double Combined Science, or 3 separate sciences out of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Computer Science),
  • History or Geography
  • A language. This includes various European languages, Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, languages from the Indian subcontinent, Chinese and Japanese.

The DfE’s intent is that:

  • for pupils taking GCSEs in 2024, 75% of pupils will take all the EBacc components, and
  • for pupils taking GCSEs in 2027, 90% of pupils will take all the EBacc components.

Under Ofsted’s 2019 School Inspection Handbook, Ofsted says under “Curriculum narrowing” that: “At the heart of an effective key stage 4 curriculum is a strong academic core: the EBacc. … It is important that inspectors understand what schools are doing to prepare for this [the 75% and 90% targets] to be achieved, and they should take those preparations into consideration when evaluating the intent of the school’s curriculum.

Ofsted says that, as part of its “quality of education” judgement for a “good” secondary school: “The school’s aim is to have the EBacc at the heart of its curriculum, in line with the DfE’s ambition, and good progress has been made towards this ambition.”

The “EBacc Entry” measure is the percentage of pupils who have been entered into all the appropriate exams.

The National average is around 35% for all schools, and 38% for state-funded schools.

A further 46% of pupils enter 4 out of the 5 components.

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How is Attainment 8 calculated?

Attainment 8 is calculated per pupil as follows:

Group 1 – English and Mathematics (Double Weighted)

  • The highest GCSE/AS English Language or English Literature point score attained. If both subjects have been taken, this figure is doubled.
  • The highest GCSE/AS Mathematics point score, doubled.

Group 2 – EBacc Qualifications

  • The highest three point scores for GCSE/AS Science, History, Geography, and Languages. Double science is counted as two different point scores.

Group 3 – Open Subjects

  • The highest three point scores for any remaining qualifications, GCSE or non-GCSE. This can include any unused English, Science, History, Geography and Languages qualifications, but not Mathematics. It can also include BTEC First Awards, OCR Cambridge National Certificates, and music examinations grades 6 to 8.

Unreformed GCSEs cannot be used if reformed GCSEs have been introduced for that subject.

Any unused slots count as zero, and any unused qualifications do not contribute towards a pupil’s Attainment 8.

A school’s Attainment 8 score is the average of all pupil’s individual Attainment 8 scores.

The National average is around 44-46. Because changes are made to the fine-tuning to Attainment 8, one year’s Attainment 8 is not comparable with another.

There are a lot of nuances as to what qualifications can be used.

For more details, please see the Secondary Accountability Measures and the Key Stage 4 discounting and Early Entry guidance.

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How is Progress 8 calculated?

A pupil’s Progress 8 score is the difference between the pupil’s Attainment 8 and a National average, divided by 10.

The relevant National average is the average of all pupils’ Attainment 8 who have a similar Key Stage 2 average fine level (e.g. a pupil who has a Key Stage 2 average fine level of 3.4 will have their Attainment 8 score compared with all pupils nationally who have the same Key Stage 2 average fine level).

A positive Progress 8 score shows the number of grade scores per subject above their National average a pupil has attained.

A negative Progress 8 score does not mean that a pupil did not make no progress between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4. It means that they made less progress than pupils with a similar Key Stage 2 average fine level.

It is not possible to predict in advance what Attainment 8 score any pupil would need to get a neutral Progress 8 score.

A school’s Progress 8 score is the average of all pupil’s Progress 8 scores.

Any pupils who do not have a Key Stage 2 average fine level are not included in the Progress 8 calculation.

60% of schools have a Progress 8 within around 0.4 of a grade.

The National average for Progress 8 is approximately -0.02.

In early 2017 the DfE categorised schools into 5 different Progress Bandings:

For more information about the Progress 8 Bandings – please view our guide on YouTube or read the accompanying article.

In 2018 the DfE introduced an adjustment for pupils with extremely negative progress scores. For more details on this and confidence intervals, please see the Secondary Accountability Measures document.

 

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EBacc Average Point Score

The EBacc Average Point Score (APS) was introduced in 2018.

It is calculated by adding the points from the following qualifications together and dividing by 6:

  • The better grade of English Language and English Literature. If only one subject is taken, this element scores zero.
  • The Mathematics grade.
  • The best two grades from Science. If neither Double Science nor three of the 4 separate sciences (including Computer Science) have been entered, then this element scores zero.
  • The better grade of Geography and History.
  • The best grade in a Language.

If any relevant qualification has not been taken, then that component scores zero.

A school’s EBacc APS is the average of all pupils’ Average Point Scores.

 

The National average is around 3.8 for all schools, and 4.0 for state-funded schools.

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What information gets published?

October (public)

In October, a school’s provisional Key Stage 4 headline performance measures are published on the public Compare School Performance website, with a limited number of measures.

January (Public)

The revised figures (which include appeals) are published in January.

DAISI’s FREE KS4 QuickView is based on the revised figures and contains a quick summary of a school’s figures,
together with graphs and high-level analysis. Click here for a preview.

ASP/IDSR (School’s, LA and Ofsted Only)

In November/December, the provisional results are published on the Analsyse School Peformance (ASP) service and in Ofsted’s Inspection Data Summary Report (IDSR). These are accessible by the school, LA and Ofsted only.

The revised figures are published in February.


Our ASaP report, available at the same time, is an analysis of the ASP data, with easy-to-read performance statements
in plain English and graphs. It also enables you to look at individual cohort types in detail.
For more details, please go to daisi.education/asap
 

Other Secondary School Issues

In Ofsted’s 2019 School Inspection Handbook, Ofsted highlights two issues of particular relevance to secondary schools:

  • Gaming – unusual patterns of examination entry, such as entering pupils for courses that are not in their educational best entry.
  • Off-rolling – a form of gaming, whereby pupils are removed, or parents are encouraged to remove their child/ren, from the school roll without a formal permanent exclusion, when the removal is primarily in the interests of the school.

Ofsted will give a Requires Improvement or Inadequate judgement to any school caught doing either.

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Key Stage 2 SATs – A Guide for Secondary Schools

Absence and Exclusion Figures

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