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Towards ground zero – Mr Gove’s controlled explosion

Further research is showing just how radically Progress 8 is intended to make schools rethink their approach to teaching and learning. From next year Progress 8 will be schools’ headline accountability figure. Schools that achieve plus 1.0 or more will be exempt from Ofsted inspections, but schools that achieve minus 0.5 or less will be liable for an inspection. (Schools’ Progress 8 will be calculated by the DfE like RAISEonline.)

Several aspects of Progress 8 haven’t yet been widely noticed. For example, only GCSE English and Maths will be allowed on the Attainment 8 ‘slots’ for English and Maths and to achieve maximum scores by double-weighting almost all students will need to be entered for both GCSE English Language and English Literature.

Progress 8 will reward progress by moderately and less able students more than able ones. And from 2019 the DfE will raise the Attainment 8 expected grades on which Progress 8 is calculated to raise floor standards.
For further information, please see Understanding and using Progress 8 [PDF document]

In 2016 Progress 8 will use current GCSE grades, but from 2017 it will use the new 9 – 1 grades for English and Maths with other subjects following a year later. English and Maths are very important in Attainment 8 and Progress 8, worth 40 per cent of the total.

In 2017 GCSE grades are likely to drop in all schools owing to the unfamiliarity of the new examinations, the greater challenge of the new specifications and the demands of the new grading system. At this point the Government will say these are the ‘true’ levels of English and Maths attainment in England’s schools after years of grade inflation – the baseline from which schools must now work to improve. Ground zero will have been reached.

Schools need to be aware of what’s coming and do their best in unprecedented circumstances. For example, to concentrate on inspiring teaching with straightforward assessment against GCSE AOs and Ofqual’s indicative grade mark ranges, rather than levels, bands or lists of criteria . Understanding and using Progress 8 contains lots of evidence, information and advice. We hope it helps.