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.