RESULTS: North Somerset’s progress 8 and attainment 8 tables have been released – but what do they mean?
PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 February 2017
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Schools in North Somerset have been through many changes over the past year – not least in the way they are monitored and students are assessed.
Achieving the standard of A*-C grades is no longer the main benchmark schools have to meet, since new progress 8 and attainment 8 tables have been introduced.
This has been controversial and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has voiced mixed feelings about the new system, and says it does not think schools’ results should be published under these terms.
However, despite this opposition, these progress 8 tables and attainment 8 tables have now been released, signalling a new way to compare how well schools are performing overall.
But what does progress 8 really mean and is it the best way to decide which schools are doing well and which are struggling?
Reporter Sheridan Robins makes sense of the new system and analyses the district’s results.
What is progress 8?
This new and innovative system aims to measure a school by comparing where its pupils started and where they end up.
In simple terms, it measures students’ results at the end of primary school in comparision to their scores at the end of secondary school.
Students’ results in eight subjects are analysed and the grades are compared against the results of other pupils who came into secondary school at a similar level to determine whether a student has progressed as they should have. A figure is then calculated for the whole school year.
The Government has decided this is a fairer way then just looking at GCSE results in isolation.
However, the generated result ranges between -1 and 1. This is accompanied by a confidence score, which is decided by the Government, and is then placed into one of five bands.
How have North Somerset’s schools performed?
All in all, the district is performing at a level deemed to be below the national average.
The overall score for progress 8 in North Somerset is -0.12, whereas the national average is -0.03. But that is really just for the staticians.
What is attainment 8?
This is slightly different and could be the most important to parents.
Attainment 8 measures a student’s average grade across eight subjects. But there is a catch – English and maths count twice.
Each student gets their points for the eight subjects added up and the final figure is then divided by 10; this becomes their attainment 8 score.
The attainment 8 score can be up to 80 but the national average this year was 49.9.
A school’s attainment 8 score is born out of the average of all of its students’ scores. Students do not have to take eight subjects, but they score zero for any unfilled slots.
Jon Reddiford, North Somerset’s division secretary for the NUT told the Mercury he is unsure about the progress 8 system itself, as well as the publication of this range of results.
He said: “I have to say I’ve very mixed feelings about progress 8. The NUT is opposed to publishing results and league tables, as they do not tell you too much about the school, and are used to put schools into competition whereas collaboration, research has shown, is much more likely to lead to school improvement.
“A further problem with the progress 8 measure is that, as it specifies a certain number of subjects, some schools are narrowing their curriculum by limiting access to subjects which don’t count in progress 8, such as art, music, drama and technology subjects.
“The NUT is of the view the best curriculum is a broad and balanced one, which this approach is limiting.”
Weston’s Hans Price Academy, in Marchfields Way, achieved a progress 8 score of -0.27, which is below the national average.
Headteacher Tony Searle said, while he thinks it is a fair way to measure schools, he believes the Government needs to give schools time to implement the new system.
He said: “It is a fair way to measure how schools are performing. From my perspective it is useful and I am pleased it is moving in the right direction.
“I am pleased with the work the staff are doing and we feel positive about where we are going.
“Schools have gone through a lot of changes lately and I think we just need to be given time to put it all into practice.
“It is going to be hard over the next few years for employers when there are some students who have numbers as their results and some which have letters.
“It is our job to make sure students have the skills employers want and that is our priority – the pupils.”
A spokesman from North Somerset Council said all of the district’s schools are committed to ensuring pupils make good progress.
They added: “Progress 8 is a new secondary accountability measure aimed at measuring the progress of pupils across a selected set of eight subjects.
“None of the mainstream schools in North Somerset fall below the floor standard of below -0.5, which would result in an Ofsted inspection being called.
“All schools in the local authority continue to have high aspirations for all our young people and they will want to continuously improve the situation.”