Matthew Spoors

Matthew Spoors

Matthew's career has been in education. He is a qualified teacher, senior school leader and taught at St Hugh's School in Grantham – now the West Grantham Academy Trust St Hugh's. He moved to Nottingham to work as a consultant before becoming a regional adviser for national strategies. He joined CfBT, the county council's school improvement partner, 5 years ago and has held the post of secondary education lead adviser for the last 2 years.


GCSE students will soon be opening their results and planning their futures, whether it’s sixth form or starting an apprenticeship or traineeship.

This year will see more changes to the way results are marked and information about school performance will be slightly different from previous years.

In English and mathematics pupils will receive numbers rather than letters on a scale from 1 to 9. The top ‘grade’ is 9 and the lowest 1.

In all other subjects, grade letters will remain. i.e. grade letters from G to A* with G being the lowest.

In this new system a grade 4 will be equivalent to an old grade C. This is now considered a ‘standard’ pass.

This is what pupils will need in maths and English to ensure that they do not need to retake them post 16. It’s also what employers and colleges should continue to accept as a requirement where they would previously accept grade C.

However, the government is introducing a new ‘strong’ pass measure. This will be set at grade 5 which is the equivalent to an old C+ or B-.

The aim of this is to encourage schools to secure the best progress for all pupils and provide parents with more information about school performance.

Comparing the performance of schools this year and in previous years is not straightforward. This is because of the way in which the grades are calculated and converted to numbers and also because the new system was designed specifically so that there could be no direct comparison between new and old.

Key performance measures will be:

Attainment 8

This shows the overall level that pupils have reached at GCSE across eight subjects. This must include English, mathematics, science, humanities and a language. To calculate this, the grade letters will be converted to numbers by the DfE.

This measure does not take into account the starting points of pupils and so does not give any clear indication of the value a school adds to pupils’ education.

So an academically selective school would most likely be expected to have a very high Attainment 8 score whereas a secondary modern school would not.

It does not necessarily mean teaching and learning is any better or worse at either.

Progress 8

This shows how well pupils achieved from their starting point when they entered secondary school – in the eight subjects that make up attainment 8.

A school in which, on average, pupils make as much progress as other schools with pupils of a similar ability range across the UK, would score 0 on Progress 8. This would represent the progress which might be expected. If a school has a positive P8 score i.e. above 0, then pupils on average have outperformed other schools with a similar profile of prior attainment and vice versa for a school with negative Progress 8.

Basics measure

This shows the percentage of pupils who attain a pass in both mathematics and English. This may now be measured and shown as ‘standard’ passes and ‘strong’ passes. Remember, for individual pupils, colleges and employers, the ‘standard’ pass should be accepted as an old grade C.

EBacc

This measure shows the percentage of pupils who attain a ‘standard’ pass in five subjects. These subjects are included in the Attainment and Progress 8 measures – English, mathematics, science, humanities, and language.

Also this year, school performance tables will continue to show the percentage of pupils who remain in education or employment after Year 11.

One last thing to note is that the government has occasionally altered its stance on school accountability measures and what should be published.

Later in the summer there will be a more definite line on which indicators will be included as headline measures within DfE analysis.

Matthew's career has been in education. He is a qualified teacher, senior school leader and taught at St Hugh's School in Grantham – now the West Grantham Academy Trust St Hugh's. He moved to Nottingham to work as a consultant before becoming a regional adviser for national strategies. He joined CfBT, the county council's school improvement partner, 5 years ago and has held the post of secondary education lead adviser for the last 2 years.

It’s that time of year again when students will be waiting expectantly on their GCSE results to put plans in place for their future, whether it’s on to sixth form or starting an apprenticeship or traineeship.

We are in the midst of more change in the way results are marked and it’s important to note this when we get results through from schools next Thursday, August 25.

The main change with this year’s results is the Progress 8 measure, designed to measure students’ progress throughout their time at school. This will replace the 5 A*-C grades as a key performance indicator.

As the DfE’s headline main indicator of school performance, Progress 8 will potentially provide a more balanced view of school standards when comparing comprehensive and secondary schools with selective grammars, which have traditionally been top of performance tables for the number of pupils getting 5 A*-C grades including English and maths.

Progress 8 is designed to encourage schools to offer a broad and balanced curriculum and reward schools for the teaching of all their students.

It measures students’ progress over eight subjects from when they start school to when they leave – English, maths, three other EBacc subjects (sciences, computer science, geography, history and languages), and three other subjects (taken from the range of EBacc subjects or other approved high-value arts, academic or vocational qualification).

The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) measure will continue to be reported. To fulfil the EBacc, a student would need A*-C in English, maths, two sciences, a humanities and a language.

The other measure which will be reported is the percentage of students who attain the expected grade i.e grade C in both English and maths.

As well as these changes this year, it’s a good time to reflect on further changes over the next year. The marking system will show some radical changes for GCSE results day next year.

From September 2015, schools in England have been teaching the new GCSEs in English language, English Literature and maths, with the first qualifications being awarded in August 2017.

Courses will be taken over the full two years, rather than by modular assessment.

One of the main differences with these GCSEs will be the grading system. No longer will these qualifications be graded A/B/C – in 2017 students will receive a grade between 1-9, with 9 being the highest grade awarded.

Students this year will still be awarded GCSE grades, but from 2017 they will be awarded the new number grading in maths and English, with letter grades in other subjects until 2018. From this point they will receive number grades in the majority of subjects.

It’s anticipated that roughly the same number of students will achieve a grade 4 and above as currently achieve a grade C and above, while those who achieve the equivalent of a grade A and above, will get a grade 9.

A Grade 5 (equivalent to a low B or high C) will be the new benchmark for a “good pass” required by league tables, where currently the required grade is C. The Government have said this will bring the country in line with some of the top performing education systems around the world.

The aim of this change is to make sure there is greater differentiation between the grades of higher performing students.

Schools are busy taking these changes on board and we are working with them to ensure they understand the different way the results will be marked and how the results will be produced.

It means there will be no like-for-like comparisons for school performance this year as there has been in recent years, when it was the case of a simple comparison with previous year’s performance based on the same marking criteria.

Whatever the changes, schools are continuing to provide excellent support in giving young people every chance to fulfil their potential. Good luck to all students with their results – we wish you every success for the future.

Matthew's career has been in education. He is a qualified teacher, senior school leader and taught at St Hugh's School in Grantham – now the West Grantham Academy Trust St Hugh's. He moved to Nottingham to work as a consultant before becoming a regional adviser for national strategies. He joined CfBT, the county council's school improvement partner, 5 years ago and has held the post of secondary education lead adviser for the last 2 years.