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As we suggested in our last blog, in the world of educational policy things are in a constant state of flux, and uncertainty is unfortunately to be expected. With the introduction of Attainment and Progress 8, the trusty, familiar system of student assessment and school accountability will be swept away entirely. Yet what’s replacing it might not be entirely clear, especially for those who are set to be most affected by it: frontline school staff, students and parents.

It’s the numbers that make Progress 8 so difficult to navigate. The A* to G grading system is to be replaced with a points system, ranging from 1 (G) to 8/9 (A*). Simple enough so far. Students are then judged across eight subjects, the points they achieve are added together and then divided by ten, and this is their Attainment 8 score. This score is subtracted from an estimated Attainment 8 score based on KS2 performance, and the resulting number is their Progress 8 score. A school’s Progress 8 score will be an average of its pupils’ Progress 8 scores, and will appear on League Tables and – if it’s below -0.5 –trigger an Ofsted inspection. Understandably, this will be a cause for concern in school’s up and down the country.

There are a few things to take away from all this, forgetting about the complicated calculation process for a moment. Where the old system once judged a school’s’ performance on ‘five good GCSEs’ (as in, anything from C upwards), Progress 8 is concerned with measuring a student’s improvement since Key Stage 2. In other words, it’s a value-added measure, one designed to ensure that students at the very bottom are encouraged to succeed, students towards the top aren’t allowed to get away with simply coasting, and those on the C/D grade boundary aren’t the main focus of school’s attention, as critics of the old system attest they were.

This is simple enough to understand, even if the data behind it takes a while to get your head around, but these changes will also require a new approach to teaching in many schools, one focused on offering a broad and balanced education to all students. Sadly SAM won’t be able to help you with the numbers, but our service is ideal for ensuring attainment – in fact, it’s what we do best, and with the development of Switch On, a new programme combining targeted support, advanced reporting and in-depth development plans, we’ve produced a service specifically designed to raise attainment and close the gap between disadvantaged and high-performing students.

Progress 8 offers many challenges to schools, but it’s also a new and potentially exciting opportunity to change the very structure of our education system – hopefully we can help you through the transition.

Would you like to book a free Progress 8 consultation within your school? Speak to SAM today.