Tes is reporting that Ofsted inspectors will examine whether schools are attempting to game their Progress 8 scores amid concerns about why some pupils are faring much worse in English and maths than they are in less academic subjects.
Emma Ings, Ofsted’s regional director for the East Midlands, has warned that there is still an issue of schools entering pupils for inappropriate qualifications in order to boost their scores.
“Gaming” – when “decisions made about the curriculum favour the league tables, rather than the individual needs of pupils” – “is a practice that needs addressing”, she writes.
A Progress 8 score has three elements to it: English and maths, which is given double weighting; three EBacc subjects; and then an open category of three more subjects.
In a new blog post, she writes: “Some of the differences are alarming. For example, it’s not unheard of to see a 1.6 point difference between the open element and English and mathematics. Where we see this, we need to ask what this means and why it is occurring.”
She adds: “We need to get behind the reasons why pupils in some schools are achieving higher marks in the open element. On the face of it, either the quality of teaching in the non-open elements is poor, or something remarkable is happening with regards to the open bucket. Of course, it could be something else.”
“If pupils are making not just adequate, but amazing progress in the open element, can they really be performing poorly in most of their other subjects? The answer could be ‘yes’, but there might be other factors involved. It seems to me imperative that we find out what is behind this.”
Earlier this year, chief inspector Amanda Spielman warned that cuts to Ofsted and longer gaps between inspections have increased the risk of schools gaming the system.
Read more Ofsted closes in on gaming schools
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