Heads hit out over ‘EBacc league tables’

The BBC is reporting that ministers have been accused of shelving a new measure of school accountability before it is even introduced.

Heads fear a new, broader measure of progress, Progress 8, will be superseded by school data on English Baccalaureate entries and results.

In a consultation, the government proposes to use the percentage of pupils entered for the EBacc as a headline school league table measure.

The government said it was not intended that EBacc would replace Progress 8.

Rather it would be used alongside Progress 8 to measure school performance.

The EBacc is:

  • A set of good GCSEs (grades A8 to C) in English, maths, the sciences, a language and a humanity.
  • Schools have been told they should offer this range of subjects to as many pupils as possible
  • The aim is to ensure the vast majority of pupils can access “a broad and balanced curriculum”
  • About 39% of pupils took the EBacc last year
  • Many heads say it sidelines other solid academic subjects and could be too difficult for many pupils.

Progress 8 is:

  • A measure of school performance based on a pupil’s GCSE results in English and mathematics, their best grades in three other EBacc qualifications, and three more GCSEs or other approved qualifications
  • It measures progress from the start of secondary school to the end of GCSEs and compares it against schools of similar character
  • Scores will be demonstrated by a number between 2 and minus 2, with 0 being the average of similar schools
  • It is set to replace the percentage of pupils gaining five good GCSEs, including English and maths, as the headline measure of school accountability.

National Association of Head Teachers general secretary Russell Hobby argued Progress 8 “delivered the right balance between academic rigour and breadth”.

He added: “The subjects which count towards the EBacc are not the only ones which are rigorous or useful preparation for later life; religious studies and music are both examples of demanding and useful qualifications. Given the pressures created by the Ebacc, there will be precious little time left for subjects outside the core.

“The EBacc is also a further restriction on school autonomy and another attempt to manage the education system through exam reforms and league tables, rather than investing in the resources that truly make a difference.

“Progress 8 has not even been given a chance to work before more changes are proposed – creating further turmoil in secondary education.”

In its consultation, the government reiterates its long-term aim to have 90% of pupils in all schools studying the EBacc…

More at Heads hit out over English Bacc ‘league tables’


So what do you make of this? Is the government using Progress 8 as a kind of Trojan horse for assessment, ultimately, by EBacc results?

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  1. Stevius

    It is being used. The most successful schools can show good progress 8, high attainment 8 and have an Ebacc % much higher than the nation average.

    The progress 8 measure is important because schools with a progress 8 of 1 or higher will be exempt from a whole school Ofsted inspection for that year (so I am told).

  2. There’s already too much emphasis one exam results in England and this has negative consequences.  One of these is a narrowing of the curriculum.  Even academies, which are supposed to have ‘freedom’ to devise their own curriculum, can’t do so in reality.

  3. DrDD

    Whether you agree with performance tables or not they are here to stay. My concern is the validity of the starting point on which all performance is based.
    The pressure on Primary schools to be seen to be achieving when using teacher assessed data is severely flawed, particularly for students who are struggling with English and Mathematics at this stage.

  4. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Progress 8 was a step towards fairness in ranking schools but the Ebacc measure will nullify all that in one political whim

  5. Paul

    I would echo the comments below but add the to the mix the farcical use of the word, “consolation” when the statement is that 90% of children will do the eBacc – this is a real case of, “you can do what you like as long as it is what we say you will do”

  6. martynrhale

    SchoolsImprove sajidjavid nadhimzahawi NickyMorgan01 KateOsamor margot_james_mp Yet still Design & Technology remains optional

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