Skip to main content

Progress 8 and Attainment 8 – what are they?

Stressed student | The Good Schools GuideProgress 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).

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.

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.

Most popular Good Schools Guide articles

  • Grammar schools best value added

    We examined the value-added from KS2 to GCSE for 2017 to see which state selective grammar schools added the most value to their offspring. A note of caution - the more highly selective a grammar school, the less scope there will be to add value. Read more

  • From embryo to 18 - how to survive the education highway

    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…

  • Secondary school: understanding the 11+

    The 11+ is the entrance exam procedure for getting your brightish little button into a fee-paying or state grammar school. Much of the country abolished the 11+ several decades ago for state schools, but a few local authorities, such as Bucks and Kent, retained a large number of grammar schools and run county-wide entrance tests. In some other areas, such as Barnet and Kingston, a few grammar schools exist in tandem with the comprehensive system found in most of the country. These grammar schools set their own entrance exams. Sixth Form

  • Sixth form: EPQ (Extended Project Qualification)

    An EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) is a sixth-form qualification that involves students choosing a topic, carrying out research, creating a report (or ‘product’ and report) and delivering a presentation.

  • National curriculum for 16 to 18 year olds

    What you study post-16 is likely to shape a huge chunk of your future. If you are considering university study or apprenticeships at 18, make sure you scrutinise course requirements before choosing your advanced level study courses. It's important to think about the type of examination you opt for - A level, Highers, Pre-U, IB etc.

Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews:

☑ 30,000 Independent, state and special schools in our parent-friendly interactive directory
☑ Instant access to in-depth UK school reviews
☑ Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of over 1,200 schools
☑ Independent tutor company reviews

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark

Buy Now

GSG Blog >

The Good Schools Guide newsletter

The Good Schools Guide Newsletter

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

The Good Schools Guide manifesto for parents