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Key stage 4 performance
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See all updates (6) for Academic year 2021/22
This release has been updated with revised data. This means the data now includes late results and reviews of marking, as well as any accepted amendments schools have requested in the autumn checking exercise.
Amended to fix table error from January 20th update. All tables now showing.
This update is to reflect changes made to the subject entries file, the subject timeseries file, the alternative provision GCSE subject file and the transition matrices GCSE subject file. These files now differentiate covid impacted grades from other grades.
Updated to add 1. Additional breakdowns in the LA and LAD files relating to education investment areas and priority areas. 2. Additional columsn in the National file relating to Art qualifications. 3. A PRA list on the home page
This update contains the following changes: 1. Addition of extra summary data files, 2. Added further featured tables, 3. Small amendment to one of the footnotes, 4. Added ancillary files relating to the ready reckoners, 5. Small improvements to the ready reckoners and transition matrices. Note: No new data has been released as part of this update
Updated with links to Ready Reckoner and Transition Matrices tools.
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This statistical release focuses on the GCSE results of pupils at the end of Key Stage 4 (KS4) attending state-funded schools in England. In the 2021/22 academic year there were 4015 state-funded schools with 587,660 pupils at the end of KS4. This revised release includes pupil characteristic breakdowns such as disadvantage status, free school meal status, special educational needs status and ethnicity.
This academic year saw the return of the summer exam series, after they had been cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, where alternative processes were set up to award grades (centre assessment grades, known as CAGs, and teacher assessed grades, known as TAGs). As part of the transition back to the summer exam series adaptations were made to the exams (including advance information) and the approach to grading for 2022 exams broadly reflected a midpoint between results in 2019 and 2021. More information on these changes can be seen in the Guide to GCSE results for England, summer 2022.
The KS4 performance measures reported in this release, and on the Find School and College Performance Data website, for the 2021/22 academic year have been affected by our commitment not to include results from qualifications achieved between January 2020 and August 2021 in future performance measures. We have adjusted the methodology designed to minimise the impact of gaps in data for schools and colleges.
Throughout this release, comparisons are made with both 2021, the most recent year, and 2019, because it is more meaningful to compare to the last year summer exams were sat. Given the unprecedented change in the way GCSE results were awarded in the summers of 2020 and 2021, as well as the changes to grade boundaries and methods of assessment for 2021/22, users need to exercise caution when considering comparisons over time, as they may not reflect changes in pupil performance alone.
To find out more about this, please visit our secondary accountability measures guide.
Headline facts and figures - 2021/22
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Additional supporting files
About this release
GCSE grades awarded in summer 2022 and published in August
The exam series was reintroduced for summer 2022 and the statistics in this release are based on the grades received by pupils as announced on 25th August 2022. The exam grades have been matched to pupils to enable pupil level analyses.
Breakdowns of the grades achieved in summer 2022 were also published on results day by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) and Ofqual. This data showed outcomes broadly reflected a midpoint between 2019 and 2021, in line with Ofqual’s announced approach to grading assessments in summer 2022. These statistics were at exam entry level for those age 16, whereas the statistics in this release are at pupil level for those at the end of key stage 4.
About this statistical release
This release summarises GCSE entries and grades awarded to pupils at the end of KS4 in summer 2022. Figures are published at national, regional and local authority level with some lower-level breakdowns such as local authority district and parliamentary constituency. Information relating to school-level data, covering a similar summary of attainment measures and pupil breakdowns, can be found on the Find School and College Performance Data website.
As previously mentioned, the 2021/22 exam series was unique given both the changes made in methodology to the grade boundaries and assessment methods. The methodology for calculating the statistics and measures has also been adapted following the Department’s commitment not to use any results from qualifications taken between January 2020 and August 2021.As a result users need to exercise caution when considering comparisons over time, as they may not reflect changes in pupil performance alone, and likely reflect the changes in methodology for awarding grades and in calculating the measures, rather than demonstrating a difference in standards.
The 2021/22 academic year saw the return of the school checking exercise, after this was suspended in 2020 and 2021. This release is based on provisional data, meaning that any approved result amendments that schools may have requested have not yet been applied when aggregations have been calculated.
This release sees the return to publishing Progress 8, after it was decided the Department would not publish this in 2019/20 and 2020/21.
Where time series data is presented it uses the revised 2021/22 results, the published results from 2020/21 and 2019/20, and the final data for 2018/19 and earlier years (final data includes small amounts of pupils' exam results from the winter series of exams as well as any late changes from schools).
The changes seen in the headline attainment statistics likely reflect the changes in methodology for awarding grades and in calculating the measures rather than demonstrating changes in standards.
We welcome feedback on any aspect of this document at Attainment.STATISTICS@education.gov.uk. We are particularly interested in user views on the data tables that accompany this release.
Which KS4 headline measures are being reported on?
Description of the Key Stage 4 headline measures
This release provides additional context to the school level data published on the FSCP website by reporting on the following Key Stage 4 headline measures at a national and regional level:
• Progress 8
• percentage of pupils entering the full EBacc combination of qualifications.
• the percentage of pupils attaining grades 5 or above in both English and maths.
• the average Attainment 8 score per pupil.
• the EBacc Average Point Score (APS) per pupil.
The KS4 measures are designed by the Department to encourage schools to offer a broad and balanced curriculum with a focus on an academic core.
Progress 8 aims to capture the progress a pupil makes from the end of key stage 2 (KS2) to the end of KS4. It compares pupils’ achievement – their Attainment 8 score (see below) – with the national average Attainment 8 score of all pupils who had a similar starting point (or ‘prior attainment’), calculated using assessment results from the end of primary school. Progress 8 is a relative measure, therefore the national average Progress 8 score for mainstream schools is very close to zero. It can be used to compare the progress of different pupil characteristic and geography breakdowns.
English Baccalaureate (EBacc) entry
The EBacc shows how many pupils are entering GCSEs (or AS level qualifications) in core academic subjects at KS4. The EBacc consists of English, maths, science, a language, and history or geography. To count in the EBacc, qualifications must be on the English Baccalaureate list of qualifications.
Attainment in English and maths at grade 5 or above
This measure looks at the percentage of pupils achieving grade 5 or above in both English and maths GCSEs. To count for this measure a pupil would have to achieve a grade 5 or above in either English literature or English language. There is no requirement to sit both.
Attainment 8 measures the average achievement of pupils in up to 8 qualifications. This includes: English language; English literature (if only one GCSE in English is taken then it is double weighted); maths (double weighted); three further qualifications that count in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc); and three further qualifications that can be GCSE qualifications (including EBacc subjects) or any other non-GCSE qualifications on the DfE approved list.
From 2018, Attainment 8 has had a maximum point score of 90, compared to a maximum of 87 in 2017 and 80 in 2016. This is a consequence of the phased introduction of reformed GCSEs graded on the 9-1 scale. These differences should be considered when comparing Attainment 8 scores between 2016-2019.
EBacc average point score (EBacc APS)
The EBacc APS measures pupils’ point scores across the five pillars of the EBacc - English, maths, science, a language, and history or geography – with a zero for any missing pillars. This ensures the attainment of all pupils is recognised, not just those at particular grade boundaries, encouraging schools to enter pupils of all abilities, and support them to achieve their full potential.
For more information on these measures and their calculation methodology, see the secondary accountability guidance.
There was a recent change to the way pupils are allocated to Key Stage 2 prior attainment groups
In 2016, changes were introduced to KS2 national curriculum tests, with pupil outcomes expressed as KS2 scaled scores instead of national curriculum levels. A pupil’s prior attainment at KS4 is now calculated as the average of their scaled scores in English reading and maths. These changes were first seen in the 2020/21 statistical release.
Most pupils who took national curriculum tests in the summer 2017 have now reached the end of KS4 in 2021/22.
Within this statistical release the categories are calculated in the following way:
• Low prior attainers have an average scaled score (average of their English reading and maths scaled scores) of below 100.
• Middle prior attainers have an average scaled score greater than or equal to 100 but less than 110.
• High prior attainers have an average scaled score greater than or equal to 110.
The scaled scores were part of a more rigorous curriculum that raised the of expectations of young people’s mastery of literacy and numeracy. Further detail on the changes can be found here. The impact of this change is to alter the distribution of the number of pupils in each prior attainment category. The data for the latest four years, 2018/19 to 2021/22, is set out in the following table: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/data-tables/fast-track/007bea2d-a53e-4a9f-20eb-08dafaf2d8a0
The table shows there are fewer pupils in the higher prior attainment group compared to the old methodology. In 2021/22, 21.9% of the KS4 cohort, with both KS2 and KS4 results available, were in the higher KS2 prior attainment group compared with 43.6% in 2018/19.
The size of the middle KS2 prior attainment group has grown from 44.6% in 2018/19 to 51.9% in 2021/22. Consequently, the percentage of pupils in the low KS2 prior attainment group is much higher, 26.2% in 2021/22 compared with 11.8% in 2018/19.
Due to the changes in methodology for prior attainment, and the subsequent variation in cohort numbers for each group we will not be making attainment comparisons between 2021/22 and 2019/20 or earlier.
Further details on EBacc entry by prior attainment is in Table 3 and data on pupils' attainment by prior attainment is covered in Table 13.
EBacc entry and subjects entered
The percentage of pupils entering the full EBacc has remained the same compared to last year and has been broadly stable since 2013/14.
The percentage of pupils entered for all five EBacc components (English, maths, a science, a language, and either history or geography) has fallen from 40.0% in 2018/19 to 38.7% in 2020/21 and 2021/22.
Figure 2 shows the EBacc entry rate over the last 13 academic years. After initial increases between 2009/10 and 2013/14 the EBacc entry rate has been broadly stable, at around 38% to 40%, since 2013/14.
Subject entries for exams taken in 2021/22 may have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as entry choices would have largely been made in Spring 2020.
EBacc entry by prior attainment - pupils with higher prior attainment were more likely to enter the full EBacc
A pupil’s prior attainment is based on their KS2 results in reading and maths and the overall distribution of pupil performance at KS2 is split into three categories: low, middle and high prior attainment.
As previously set out, the way the prior attainment groups are calculated changed in 2021 due to the introduction of KS2 scaled scores in 2016. This change has had an impact on the number of pupils in each prior attainment group (with fewer pupils in the high prior attainment group and more pupils in the middle and lower prior attainment groups) and means that comparisons with years prior to 2021 are not possible.
In the 2021/22 academic year, 38.7% of pupils (227,595 pupils out of 587,660) were entered for all five EBacc components. Pupils with higher prior attainment were more likely to enter all five EBacc components:
• 63.1% of pupils with high prior attainment at KS2 entered all five EBacc components.
• 40.0% of pupils with middle prior attainment entered all five EBacc components.
• 15.9% of pupils with low prior attainment entered all five EBacc components.
86.7% of pupils entered four or more EBacc components
A slightly lower proportion of pupils were entered for four or more components in 2021/22; 86.7% compared with 87.7% in 2020/21 (and 86.5% in 2018/19). Of those pupils who entered four out of the five EBacc components in state-funded schools:
• 87.5% were missing the languages component in 2021/22, up from 87.3% in 2020/21 and 86.0% in 2018/19.
• 12.2% were missing the humanities component in 2021/22, down from 12.4% in 2020/21 and 13.6% in 2018/19.
Figure 5 shows the time series for pupils entering the science, humanities and language pillars. Between 2009/10 and 2013/14, there were gradual increases in the proportions entering these pillars with more pupils entering sciences followed by humanities and then languages.
From 2013/14 onwards, the percentage of pupils entering sciences and humanities has increased considerably. However, the percentage of pupils entering languages has steadily decreased from 50.5% in 2013/14 to 44.8% in 2021/22.
Further information on the number of entries to GCSEs by subject is available in the download files. For example, the subject time series data can be used to show time series of entries to language GCSEs from 2009/10 to 2021/22. This table is available here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/data-tables/fast-track/8c27aa7b-8eb4-4b67-20ed-08dafaf2d8a0
Attainment in the individual EBacc pillars is highest in English
The national EBacc APS score in 2021/22 has decreased compared to 2021, down to 4.27 from 4.45. This is up compared to 4.07 in 2018/19. A value of 4.27 for the EBacc APS means it was, on average, above grade 4 and has increased by 0.2 points between 2018/19 and 2021/22. The increase is the equivalent of 1/5th of a grade.
For the individual EBacc pillars, over the last three years, attainment has been highest in English, then maths, followed by sciences, humanities and the lowest attainment is in languages. In 2021/22, the gap between the EBacc English APS (the highest attainment) and the EBacc Languages APS (the lowest attainment) is 2.83 points (a difference of almost three grades). This difference has increased from 2.68 points to 2.83 points between 2018/19 and 2021/22.
For wider context, in 2021/22, the proportion of pupils who achieved all five components of the EBacc at grades 5 or above was 20.3%. This has dropped from 21.5% in 2020/21, and is up 3.2 percentage points compared to 17.1% in 2018/19. The proportion of pupils who achieved all five components of the EBacc at grades 4 or above was 26.8%. Again, this is down compared to 2020/21 (29.5%) but up compared to 2018/19 (24.9%).
Further information is available in the downloadable files that shows the distribution of individual grades and the average attainment (e.g. the percentage of pupils achieving grades 9-4 and equivalents) in specific GCSE subjects over time. In addition, Transition Matrices are also available to view, for individual GCSE subjects, the grades achieved by pupils entering that subject in 2021/22 broken down by detailed prior attainment and pupil characteristics. A new App based product for the 2021/22 Transition Matrices, allowing more interaction for users, can be viewed at the following link: Transition Matrices
Comparing KS4 headline measures over time
The time series data for the main KS4 headline measures are shown in Table 1 at the start of this release. The attainment measures have been affected by changes in methodology following the cancellation of GCSE exams for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 academic years and by their replacement with CAGs and TAGs. They have also been impacted by the changes to the 2022 methodology relating to the approach to grading for 2022 exams broadly reflecting a midpoint between results in 2019 and 2021, referenced at the start of this document.
Therefore, direct comparisons between results awarded in 2022, those awarded in 2021, 2020 and those awarded in earlier years are not recommended as the changes seen in the statistics likely reflect the changes in methodology in the respective years, rather than demonstrating a step change in standards.
Whilst it is not possible to compare pupil attainment across years to detect changes in pupil performance, the data can show whether attainment gaps for pupils with particular characteristics have changed between years.
The next sections provide data on EBacc entry and the headline attainment measures by various pupil characteristics (e.g. by disadvantage status, first language, special educational needs, gender, ethnicity and prior attainment) for 2019, 2021 and 2022 to identify any changes in attainment gaps.
Attainment by disadvantage status
Disadvantaged pupils and the disadvantage gap index
Pupils are defined as disadvantaged if they are known to have been eligible for free school meals at any point in the past six years (from year 6 to year 11), if they are recorded as having been looked after for at least one day or if they are recorded as having been adopted from care.
In 2021/22, 26.4% of pupils at the end of key stage 4 in state-funded schools were recorded as disadvantaged, the same percentage of pupils as in 2020/21 and down slightly from 26.5% of pupils in 2018/19. For more information on changes to the disadvantaged cohort please visit our methodology document.
The disadvantage gap index reduced between 2011 and 2014 from 4.07 to 3.74 (indicating that the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and other pupils was becoming smaller). It then widened slightly in 2015 and 2016 to around 3.8, before narrowing to its joint lowest level at 3.66 in 2017. Before the pandemic, the gap index widened again going from 3.66 to 3.7 between 2017 and 2019. It narrowed slightly in 2020 to 3.66 when CAGs were used to awarded grades, before widening again in both 2021 and 2022 where it now stands at 3.84, the highest level since 2012.
The widening of the disadvantaged gap index may reflect the difficult circumstances that many pupils will have experienced over the last few academic years which saw various restrictions put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g. periods of lockdowns and tiers) that resulted in restricted attendance to schools and periods of home learning.
The disadvantage gap index summarises the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and all other pupils
The disadvantage gap index has been created to be a more resilient measure (than the binary category of disadvantage) of changes over time in attainment that may have been affected by, for example, the GCSE reforms introduced in 2017 and associated changes to headline measures (e.g. moving away from 5 or more GCSEs to average Attainment 8 scores).
The disadvantage gap index summarises the relative attainment gap (based on the average grades achieved in English and maths GCSEs) between disadvantaged pupils and all other pupils. The index ranks all pupils in state-funded schools in England and asks whether disadvantaged pupils typically rank lower than non-disadvantaged pupils. A disadvantage gap of zero would indicate that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds perform as well as pupils from non-disadvantaged backgrounds. We measure whether the disadvantage gap is getting larger or smaller over time.
Whilst the absolute differences (in English and maths GCSE grades) may differ between years the gap index measures results in terms of how disadvantaged pupils are ranked in comparison to non-disadvantage pupils therefore it offers greater comparability between years.
More details regarding the methodology and the consultation were published in SFR 40/2014.
Attainment by disadvantage status
Entry to EBacc and attainment across each headline measure was lower for disadvantaged pupils compared to all other pupils in 2022.
The attainment gap, showing the differences between disadvantaged pupils and non-disadvantaged pupils, has widened in Attainment 8 when comparing to both 2018/19 exam data and 2020/21 TAG data. For the percentage achieving grades 5 and above in English and maths, the gap has widened since 2018/19, but has slightly narrowed compared to 2020/21. Table 8 shows:
• for the percentage of pupils achieving grades 5 and above in English and maths the gap has widened from 25.2 percentage points in 2018/19 to 27.4 percentage points in 2021/22. Both groups saw increases over this period, but the increase for the non-disadvantaged group was larger. This followed a 0.1 percentage point narrowing compared to 2020/21 (27.5), due to non-disadvantaged pupils have a slightly larger decrease between 2021 and 2022.
• the average Attainment 8 gap has widened from 13.6 points in 2018/19 and 14.4 points in 2020/21, to 15.2 points in 2021/22. The widening between 2020/21 and 2021/22 was caused by the disadvantaged group having a larger decrease than the non-disadvantaged group, following the non-disadvantaged group having a larger increase between 2019 and 2021.
• the gap has widened slightly for the EBacc APS from 1.35 points in 2018/19 and 1.42 in 2020/21, to 1.47 in 2021/22. Disadvantaged pupils had a slightly larger decrease between 2021 and 2022 than the non-disadvantaged group, and a smaller increase between 2019 and 2021.
• and the gap has narrowed for the rate of entry to the full EBacc compared to 2018/19; from 17.0 percentage points to 16.1 percentage points. This is relatively stable with the 15.9 percentage points seen in 2020/21.
Progress 8 scores for disadvantaged and non disadvantaged pupils showed that non disadvantaged pupils averaged a Progress 8 score of 0.15 whereas disadvantaged pupils averaged a Progress 8 score of -0.55. This means non disadvantaged pupils, on average, progressed more than expected when compared to similar pupils in their prior attainment group, whereas disadvantaged pupils achieved half a grade less than expected by the end of KS4.
Attainment by first language status
Attainment by first language
“First language” is the language to which a child was initially exposed during early development and continues to be exposed to in the home or in the community. Being a pupil whose first language is other than English does not mean that the pupil is necessarily fluent in a language other than English or cannot speak English.
In 2021/22, 17.0% of pupils at the end of KS4 in state-funded schools had a first language other than English (excluding those pupils whose first language is unclassified). This is the same as 2020/21. This cohort has seen a small but gradual increase over the last few years e.g. it was 16.9% in 2019/20 and 16.7% in 2018/19.
In 2018/19, 2020/21 and 2021/22 pupils with English as an additional language (EAL) have had slightly better attainment than pupils with English as their first language (Non EAL) across all the headline measures.
However, when comparing 2021/22 data with both 2018/19 exam data and 2020/21 TAG data, the gaps in attainment between EAL and non EAL pupils have widened, in favour of EAL pupils. For example:
• The biggest difference is in the percentage achieving grades 5 and above in English and maths where the gap has widened to 4.1 percentage points, compared to 0.6 percentage points and 0.9 percentage points in 2018/19 and 2020/21 respectively. Both EAL and non-EAL pupils had a large increase of approximately 9 percentage points between 2019 and 2021, however EAL pupils then had a slight increase between 2021 and 2022, whereas non-EAL pupils had a decrease of 2.7 percentage points.
• the average Attainment 8 gap has widened from 1.0 points in 2018/19 and 1.3 points in 2020/21 to 2.1 points in 2021/22. Both groups saw increases between 2019 and 2021, though EAL to a greater extent causing the widening. The gap widened again as, though both groups saw a decrease, the decrease for the non-EAL group was larger.
• the same pattern is also seen for EBacc APS which widened to 0.4 points in 2022, up from 0.2 points in 2018/19 and 0.3 points in 2020/21, caused by the EAL group having a larger increase between 2019 and 2021 and a smaller decrease compared to the non-EAL group between 2021 and 2022.
• the gap has also increased for the rate of entry to the full EBacc; from 11.2 and 12.3 percentage points in 2018/19 and 2020/21 to 14.3 percentage points in 2021/22. Both EAL and non-EAL groups saw decreased EBacc entry between 2019 and 2021, though non-EAL pupils decreased to a greater extent causing the widening. The gap widened again in 2022, as EAL pupils EBacc entry increased by 1.3 percentage points to a level greater than in 2019, whereas non-EAL pupils EBacc entry decreased.
Progress 8 scores for EAL and non EAL pupils showed that EAL pupils averaged a Progress 8 score of 0.55 whereas non EAL pupils averaged a Progress 8 score of -0.12. This means EAL pupils, on average, progressed over half a grade more than expected when compared to similar pupils in their prior attainment group, whereas non EAL pupils achieved around 1/10th of a grade less than expected by the end of KS4.
Attainment by Special Educational Needs (SEN) status
The SEN category indicates whether a pupil has learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children of the same age. Pupils with special educational needs include those with SEN support or an education, health and care (EHC) plan. More information on these is given in the methodology document.
In 2021/22, 15.7% of pupils at the end of key stage 4 in state-funded schools had a special educational need compared with 15.2% in 2020/21 and 14.2% in 2018/19.
In 2018/19, 2020/21 and 2021/22 pupils with SEN have had significantly lower attainment than pupils without SEN across all the headline measures.
When comparing 2021/22 data with both 2018/19 exam data and 2020/21 TAG data, the gaps in attainment between SEN and non-SEN pupils have shown the following changes:
• the gap for the percentage achieving grades 5 and above in English and maths had widened between 2019 and 2021 from 34.4 percentage points to 39.7 percentage points, but narrowed between 2021 and 2022 to 37.5 percentage points after the SEN group saw saw no decrease compared to a decrease of 2.2 percentage points for non-SEN
• the same pattern was seen in the average Attainment 8 gap which widened from 22.3 points to 23.4 points between 2019 and 2021, but again narrowed in 2022 to 23.1 points
• the EBacc APS gap has remained the same at 2.2 points compared to 2018/19 and narrowed from 2.3 points 2020/21, again caused by the non-SEN group having a larger increase between 2019 and 2021, but also a larger decrease between 2021 and 2022.
• the gap for the rate of entry to the full EBacc has been narrowing in recent years, from 31.0 percentage points in 2018/19 to 29.3 percentage points in 2021/22. Though both groups showed slightly increased EBacc entry in the latest year, the EBacc entry of non-SEN pupils is slightly lower than in 2019 whereas SEN pupils is slightly higher. Though it should be noted EBacc entry for SEN pupils is already much lower at 14.1% in 2022, compared to 43.4% for non-SEN pupils.
Progress 8 scores for SEN and non SEN pupils showed that non SEN pupils averaged a Progress 8 score of 0.10 whereas SEN pupils averaged a Progress 8 score of -0.69. This means non SEN pupils, on average, progressed more than expected when compared to similar pupils in their prior attainment group, whereas SEN pupils achieved over 2/3rds of a grade less than expected by the end of KS4.
Attainment by ethnicity
In 2021/22, pupils from the White major ethnic category made up 73.7% of pupils at the end of key stage 4 in state-funded schools (of those where ethnicity data was provided). 11.6% of pupils were from the Asian ethnic category, 6.3% were from the Black ethnic category, 5.9% were from the Mixed ethnic category, 0.4% were from the Chinese ethnic category and 2.1% were from Other ethnic categories.
While the national EBacc entry rate stayed the same between 2020/21 and 2021/22, pupils from the Chinese ethnic category saw the largest decrease of 0.6 percentage points. However, pupils from the Black ethnic category saw an increase of 1.1 percentage point compared to 2020/21. Pupils from the Asian, Mixed, White and Other categories remained relatively stable, changing by half a percentage point or less.
For the average Attainment 8 measure all major ethnic groups have seen decreases between 2020/21 and 2021/22 – which is likely due to both the way GCSE grades were awarded in 2020/21 and the new methodology for awarding 2022 grades. However, all ethnic groups have seen increases of at least 1.7 points compared to 2018/19. Pupils from the Black ethnic category had the largest increase, up 3.7 points from 44.9 to 48.6 – which means they are achieving, on average, more than 3 and a half grades more across 8 subjects compared to 2018/19.
For Progress 8 in 2021/22, pupils from the Chinese ethnic category have the highest average score with 0.99, followed by Asian and Other with 0.54 each. Pupils from the Black ethnic category pupils have a score of 0.18, while pupils from the Mixed and White ethnic categories are the only ones with negative Progress 8 scores with -0.04 and -0.14 respectively.
Progress 8 measures a pupil’s performance against other pupils with similar prior attainment at the end of KS2. Therefore a pupil with a score of 0.99 averages just under 1 grade more than expected when compared to the rest of their prior attainment cohort.
Further information on the attainment of pupils from the detailed ethnicity categories is available here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/data-tables/fast-track/4a466da2-a5ce-4de6-20ec-08dafaf2d8a0
Attainment by gender
In 2021/22, 48.9% of pupils at the end of key stage 4 in state-funded schools were girls and 51.1% were boys. This is a very small change compared to the last three years, where 49.0% of pupils were girls and 51.0% were boys.
As in previous years, more girls enter the full EBacc than boys and girls continue to do better than boys across all headline attainment measures.
However, across all measures the gap has narrowed when comparing 2021/22 data with both 2018/19 and 2021/22
• the gap for the percentage achieving grades 5 and above in English and maths has narrowed from 6.6 percentage points in 2018/19 and 7.6 percentage points in 2020/21 to 5.7 percentage points in 2021/22. The widening between 2019 and 2021 was driven by girls seeing a larger increase (9.2 ppt vs 8.2 ppt), but the narrowing to 2022 was caused by girls having a larger decrease than boys (3.1 ppt vs 1.2 ppt)
• the average Attainment 8 gap also saw the same pattern, widening slightly from 5.5 points in 2018/19 to 5.8 points in 2020/21 before narrowing to 5.1 points; as well as the EBacc APS gap which slightly widened from 0.48 to 0.52 between 2018/19 and 2020/21, before narrowing to 0.44 in 2021/22 to a gap smaller than in 2019.
• the gap has also narrowed for the rate of entry to the full EBacc; from 11.6 and 10.6 percentage points in 2018/19 and 2020/21 to 9.9 percentage points in 2021/22, caused by girls having a larger decrease in EBacc entry than boys between 2019 and 2022.
Progress 8 scores for girls and boys showed that girls averaged a Progress 8 score of 0.15 whereas boys averaged a Progress 8 score of -0.21. This means girls, on average, progressed more than expected when compared to similar pupils in their prior attainment group, whereas boys achieved one fifth of a grade less than expected by the end of KS4.
Attainment by Key Stage 2 prior attainment
The calculation for the prior attainment categories changed in 2020/21 as a consequence of the introduction of Key Stage 2 scaled scores in 2016. As discussed earlier, the introduction of KS2 scaled scores has had an impact on the distribution of pupils by prior attainment. In summary, the impact has been to reduce the number of pupils in the high prior attainment group and increase the number of pupils in the low and middle prior attainment groups.
This means that caution is required when comparing the results over time. The changes seen will be driven by a combination of the changed prior attainment distribution and the Ofqual’s approach to grading for 2022.
Table 13 shows the headline measures by KS2 prior attainment over the last two years. Pupils with high prior attainment continue to have better attainment levels than those pupils in the middle prior attainment group and much better attainment levels than those pupils in the low prior attainment group - across all the headline measures.
When comparing 2021/22 data with 2020/21 data, the gaps in attainment between pupils in the high prior attainment category and pupils in the low prior attainment category have shown the following changes:
• the gap for the percentage achieving grades 5 and above in English and maths has remained broadly stable going from 80.4 percentage points in 2020/21 to 80.5 percentage points in 2021/22. Both the high and low prior attainment groups saw decreases between 2021 and 2022, but the low prior attainment group decrease was slightly larger.
• the average Attainment 8 gap has remained stable across 2020/21 and 2021/22 at 39.9 points, driven by both groups seeing a similar sized decrease.
• the same pattern was also seen in the EBacc APS gap, which also remained fairly stable across 2020/21 and 2021/22 at 4.13 points and 4.01 points respectively.
• the gap has decreased for the rate of entry to the full EBacc; from 50.0 percentage points in 2020/21, down to 47.2 percentage points in 2021/22, driven by the high prior attainment group having a bigger decrease than the low prior attainment group. Though it should be noted the EBacc entry rate for the low prior attainment group was much lower than the high prior attainment group (15.9% compared to 63.1%).
Attainment by Region and local authority
Pupil attainment levels by region and local authority vary considerably
Pupil attainment varies considerably across the country. The variation in EBacc entry and the headline attainment statistics by region is shown in the following table:
|% entering EBacc||31.9%||58.6%||26.7 percentage points|
|% achieving 5 or above in English and Maths||46.0%||58.0%||12.0 percentage points|
|Average attainment 8 score per pupil||46.9||53.1||6.2 points|
|EBacc average point score||4.03||4.80||0.77 points|
The variation in EBacc entry and the headline attainment statistics by local authority is shown in the following table:
|% entering EBacc||18.9%||68.5%||49.6 percentage points|
|% achieving 5 or above in English and Maths||26.4%||69.3%||42.9 percentage points|
|Average attainment 8 score per pupil||36.1||61.0||24.9 points|
|EBacc average point score||3.05||5.60||2.55 points|
Understandably, there is less variance at regional level due to these being made up of a wide range of local authorities performing at different levels. The local authorities with the highest pupil attainment averages tend to be concentrated in London and the south with the majority of the local authorities with the lowest pupil attainment averages located in the northern and midland regions (as shown in the map in figure 5). This is similar to patterns seen in recent years, and this is generally reflected at regional level.
Ready Reckoners and Transition Matrices Tools
Further information is available
|School level figures||The school level data for the 2021/22 academic year is the latest available data and can be found in the Find School and College Performance.|
|Characteristics breakdowns||Characteristics breakdowns are included in this release.|
|Previously published figures||All previous similar statistical releases can be found via the Gov.UK collections page Statistics: GCSEs (key stage 4) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)|
|Attainment for other key stages|
Data on other key stages can be found at the following links:
Figures for young people who went into education, employment or training destinations the year after they completed key stage 4 or key stage 5 can be found at the following link:
|Attainment in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland|
Information on educational attainment for secondary schools in Wales is available from the Welsh Government website.
Information on educational attainment for secondary schools in Scotland is available from Scottish Government website.
Information on educational attainment for secondary schools in Northern Ireland is available from the Department for Education Northern Ireland (DENI) website.
|Information published by JCQ and Ofqual|
Detailed information on the grade awarding process: Information for heads of centre, heads of department and teachers on the submission of teacher assessed grades: summer 2021 (HTML) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Help and support
Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics.
The United Kingdom Statistics Authority designated these statistics as National Statistics in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.
Designation signifying their compliance with the authority's Code of Practice for Statistics which broadly means these statistics are:
- managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
- meet identified user needs
- produced according to sound methods
- well explained and readily accessible
Once designated as National Statistics it's a statutory requirement for statistics to follow and comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics to be observed.
Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.
If you have a specific enquiry about Key stage 4 performance statistics and data:
Attainment statistics team
Telephone: Liam Hamilton
037 0000 2288
If you have a media enquiry:
020 7783 8300
If you have a general enquiry about the Department for Education (DfE) or education:
037 0000 2288
Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 5pm (excluding bank holidays)