Key Stage 4 covers secondary school pupils aged 14 to 16. In 2016, new measures were introduced to enable the performance and progress of pupils at CGSE (and equivalent) level to be compared.

Unfortunately it is very hard to compare the results of a lot of independent schools with their state equivalents.

It is very important to note that only qualifications on the government’s approved list count towards 2016 measures, and this does not include exams such as International GCSEs (iGCSEs) which some schools, including a high number of independent schools, offer their students. This means the GCSE results can appear very poor for these schools, when in fact they are often quite the opposite. In addition, re-sits are not included and this can affect further education colleges. Unfortunately this makes it very hard to compare the results of a lot of independent schools with their state equivalents.

Pupil progress, which is considered to be a fairer measure for school comparison, is now a key indicator; so a school can now be judged not only by it's headline results, but also by how much it progresses its pupils.

The key measures available for 2016 onwards are:

Progress 8 score
Pupil progress, which is considered to be a fairer measure for school comparison, is now a key indicator; so a school can now be judged not only by it's headline results, but also by how much it progresses its pupils.

The Progress 8 score shows how much progress pupils at this school made between the end of Key Stage 2 and the end of Key Stage 4, compared to pupils across England who got similar results at the end of Key Stage 2. This is based on the results of up to 8 qualifications, which include English, maths, 3 English Baccalaureate qualifications (including sciences, computer science, history, geography and languages), and 3 other additional approved qualifications.

The average Progress 8 score for 'mainstream' schools in England is 0. Mainstream schools are schools that aren’t special schools or 'alternative provision settings' (for example pupil referral units). Most schools score between -1 and +1. If a school scores +1 and above, it shows that pupils made exceptionally good progress. If the score is below -0.5, the school may come under increased scrutiny and receive additional support.

  • A score above zero means pupils made more progress, on average, than pupils across England who got similar results at the end of Key Stage 2.

  • A score below zero means pupils made less progress, on average, than pupils across England who got similar results at the end of Key Stage 2.

  • A negative progress score does not mean pupils made no progress, or the school has failed, rather it means pupils in the school made less progress than other pupils across England with similar results at the end of Key Stage 2.

See also Government Progress 8 video.

Attainment 8 score

This is another new measure introduced in 2016. Attainment 8 is not a qualification but a measure of how well pupils have performed in up to 8 qualifications, which include English, maths, 3 English Baccalaureate qualifications (including sciences, computer science, history, geography and languages), and 3 other additional approved qualifications.

In 2017 there was a new GCSE grading system, where the previous A*-G grades were replaced with new grades that range from 9 to 1, with 1 being the lowest grade. These new grades will carry a point score, e.g. 9 (the equivalent of an A*) will be worth 9 points. The Attainment 8 points system heralds the beginning of the transition from alphabetical to numerical grades.

Pupils achieving Grade 5 (previously grade C) or better in English and maths GCSEs

The measure gives the percentage of pupils that achieved a grade C or better in English and maths GCSEs.

The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is not a test or qualification; it is a measure used to provide information about a particular range of qualifications.

Entering EBacc

A pupil is considered to have entered for the English Baccalaureate if they entered for qualifications in English, maths, sciences, a language and either history or geography. The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is not a test or qualification; it is a measure used to provide information about a particular range of qualifications. University technical colleges, studio schools and some further education colleges with key stage 4 provision provide a specialist technical and professional education. It is not appropriate to expect the same rates of EBacc entry from these types of schools and colleges. They should decide on a case-by-case basis whether their specialist curriculum is compatible with the full EBacc.

EBacc average point score

The EBacc APS calculates a pupil's average point scores across the 5 pillars of the English Baccalaureate, allocating points to a pupil's best grades and dividing by 6 (the science grades count in 2 pillars, meaning a total of 6 pillars) to create an average point score per pupil. This measure is an average across the subjects (i.e. we divide the total by 6) and so is on a different scale to Attainment 8 which we calculated by simply awarding points score across 8 qualifications (without dividing the total). This measure is based on the better result of either English language or English literature when both subjects are taken, maths, the best 2 results from the single sciences (3 out of 4 must be taken), or results from the combined science, the better result from either geography or history and the best result in languages. For more information about how the EBacc average point score is calculated view the detailed guide to EBacc APS.