Documents to download

Scope of this briefing paper

This briefing paper aims to provide a brief overview of how the Government measures schools performance in England.

It looks at:

  • What school performance data is currently measured and reported, and the changes to school performance tables, or ‘league tables’, in 2016.
  • What role data plays in school accountability frameworks and in deciding which schools will be subject to intervention.

It also provides guidance on how to find and interpret local school performance data.

What are school performance tables, or ‘league tables’?

The Department for Education (DfE) collects a wide range of performance and pupil data from schools, local authorities and, at key stages 4 and 5, examination boards, in England. It publishes some of this information in school performance tables, or league tables as they are commonly referred to.

What is school performance data used for?

  • Parents: A survey in May 2016 found that parents think performance data is important for selecting secondary schools, but less so for primary schools.[1]
  • Schools and governors: performance data (both published and unpublished) can be used alongside other key information to monitor school effectiveness and pupils’ progress.
  • Schools’ inspectorate, Ofsted: Ofsted considers a wide range of evidence, but performance data are taken into account during routine school inspections and during risk assessments.
  • Local authorities and the Department for Education (DfE): Schools whose performance data suggests they are ‘coasting’ or otherwise underperforming can be subject to a range of interventions from Regional Schools Commissioners (DfE appointees) or local authorities for maintained schools.

Changes for 2016

In 2016 what is reported at both primary and secondary levels is changing in fundamental ways.

  • At key stage 4 (GCSE/ equivalent) two new headline progress measures are being introduced: Progress 8 and Attainment 8. The old headline measure of school performance, 5 A* to C GCSEs or equivalent, including English and maths, will not be included in school performance tables.
  • At the end of key stage 2 (end of primary) the old national curriculum ‘levels’ have been scrapped and there are four new headline measures:
  • The percentage of pupils achieving the ‘expected standard’ in English reading, English writing and mathematics.
  • The pupils’ average scaled score in English reading and mathematics – a score of 100 will always represent the expected standard, but the actual number of marks scored to achieve this may vary from year to year to account for slight changes to the difficulty of tests and assessments
  • The percentage of pupils who achieve at a higher standard in English reading, English writing and mathematics
  • The pupils’ average progress in English reading, writing and mathematics.

These reforms are taking place alongside parallel reforms to the school curriculum, exams and assessments. These are covered in two linked House of Commons Library briefing papers:

The second of these notes looks at the history of the Government’s primary assessment changes in context. It also provides information on sector reaction to the primary curriculum and assessment changes.

[1]     “Ofsted ratings not key to how parents pick schools, finds surveyin the Times Educational Supplement, 27 May 2016.

Documents to download

Related posts