Skip to main content

Progress 8 and Attainment 8 have become the chief measures of schools' performance, replacing the old 5 A*-C GCSEs including English and Maths measure. They are based on students' attainment in their best eight subjects at GCSE and the progress made from the end of Year 6, when the Key Stage 2 SATs in Reading and Maths are taken.

They were designed by Michael Gove, when he was Secretary of State for Education, to encourage schools to focus on improving the performance of all pupils - the Gs who might get an F, the Bs who might get an A - rather than just those on the C/D borderline.

Attainment 8 Score

This is calculated by adding together a student's highest scores across eight government approved qualifications. These are divided into three categories, which are being called “buckets”:

  • Bucket 1 - English and Maths, which are worth double marks, but English will only count for double marks if both English Literature and English (ie English Language) are taken; the higher grade of the two is used;
  • Bucket 2 – the top three scores from the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects taken, ie Sciences, Computer Science, History, Geography and languages;
  • Bucket 3 – the top three scores from remaining EBacc subjects or other government approved qualifications (eg other GCSEs or Level 2 Certificates in some technical subjects).

The highest Attainment 8 score in 2016 was achieved by Henrietta Barnett (an all girls' grammar school in Barnet, London): 78.5. The average for all schools nationally was 48.2.

Progress 8 Score

This is based on two calculations using Attainment 8 scores. Students from the whole country who had similar Reading and Maths results at Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6) are grouped and the group's estimated average Attainment 8 score is arrived at through a massive number crunch at the Department for Education.

The student Progress 8 score is the actual Attainment 8 score less the estimated Attainment 8 score, which is then divided by ten (8 subjects; Maths and English count twice).

A school’s Progress 8 score is the average score from pupils across a whole year group::

  • A score of zero means pupils in this school on average do about as well at Key Stage 4 as other pupils across England who got similar results at the end of Key Stage 2.
  • A score above zero means pupils made more progress, on average, than pupils across England who got similar results at the end of Key Stage 2.
  • A score below zero means pupils made less progress, on average, than pupils across England who got similar results at the end of Key Stage 2.

The highest Progress 8 score nationally in 2016 was 1.37, obtained by Tauheedul Islam Girls' High School in Blackburn. The lowest was -3.54, obtained by Newbury College in West Berkshire.

Progress 8 and Attainment 8: Should parents care?

Progress 8 and Attainment 8On results day, what still matters for students is the actual grades they receive, as these will determine where they go next (sixth form courses, apprenticeships, jobs etc). Individual students’ Progress 8 or Attainment 8 scores are not made public as these are only calculated in order to work out the whole school’s progress and attainment. It's the headteachers who have sleepless nights until the autumn, when they are due to receive their school's scores – especially with regard to Progress 8 – as very weak ones can result in a school coming under pressure to convert to an academy (which could mean a change of head). The school performance tables for 2017 will probably be published in January 2018.

However, the Progress 8 and Attainment 8 scores are useful for those parents who are researching secondary schools for their children. When weighing up one’s options, it is helpful to know whether one school is more able than others to help its pupils obtain higher GCSE grades than the expected norm for those of their ability, in addition to having comparative information about the attainment of pupils across eight rather than just five subjects.

Related articles


  • What school league tables do not tell you

    League tables have caused a lot of agony and misunderstanding. As raw statistics, they are more or less meaningless. You will observe, for a start, that results swing wildly according to which newspaper you happen to look at. Among other things they don’t tell you: the pupils’ IQs, school policy, examinations taken or quality of education overall.

  • Questions to ask when visiting a school - academic matters

    Don't rely on league tables  - look beyond the headlines. Check-out our detailed analysis of results for English state schools to uncover how well a school does for a child like yours. Whether the most able, least able or Annie Average, what matters is how enthusiastic the school is about teaching and developing a child.

  • When to put your child’s name down for a school

    A handful of schools literally demand that you apply for a place as soon as your child is born, which means it’s never too early to start planning your child’s education. In fact, it’s a process that can start even before you’ve conceived – and that goes for all parents, wherever they want their offspring to go to school. From embryo to 18, read on to find out how to survive the education highway. Our lively look at education planning for children of all ages and their parents aims to guide you through the schooling stages in both the independent…

  • Understanding the 11+

    This is the must read article for any parent of a child under eleven years of age who is contemplating a selective or independent school education. We unravel the mystery behind 11+ testing and examinations and explain what you need to do, when and how, to ensure maximum success for your child.

  • Extended Projects - stretching the able

    With a myriad of courses on offer, plus year on year improvements in pass-rates, it is seemingly harder than ever for savvy, innovative, intellectual students to shine and to take the right path. Developed by The Edexcel Examination Board in conjunction with teachers and academics, students undertaking an extended project qualification can earn up to 70 UCAS points, (just over half an A level).


Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews, data and catchment:

30,000 Independent, state and special schools in our parent-friendly interactive directory.
 School exam results by subject and performance GCSE, A level or equivalent.
 Which schools pupils come from and go onto.
 Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of over 1,000 schools.
Comprehensive catchment maps for English state schools by year of entry.
School data comparison by results, relative success and popularity.
 Independent tutor company reviews.

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark

The Good Schools Guide subscription

GSG Blog >    In the news >

The Good Schools Guide newsletter

The Good Schools Guide Newsletter

Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.

Behind the scenes at The Good Schools Guide

 
 

Our Careers Advisers can guide your child through the reams of often conflicting advice about potential careers or further educational opportunities.