What does it all mean?

All the different measures used to compare schools can be a quite confusing.
We've distilled them down into a useful, concise list.

Learn More

Inspection results explained


Ofsted inspection ratings

outstanding
Grade 1 : Outstanding

An outstanding school is highly effective in delivering outcomes that provide exceptionally well for all its pupils’ needs.

Ofsted is required to inspect all schools ‘within five school years’ of the last inspection. However, some schools are exempt from this requirement, if they were judged to be outstanding in their overall effectiveness at their most recent full inspection. Exempt schools are subject to risk assessment. If the risk assessment process raises concerns about the performance of an exempt school, it may be inspected at any time after the completion of the risk assessment.

good
Grade 2 : Good

A good school is effective in delivering outcomes that provide well for all its pupils’ needs. Pupils are well prepared for the next stage of their education, training or employment.

Ofsted have recently introduced short inspections for good schools, their reasoning being ‘most good schools and providers stay good’, so a full inspection is often not necessary. There are 3 possible outcomes from a short inspection:

  • A school or provider will remain ‘good’ - in this case, the lead inspector will write a letter reporting on the strengths of the school or provider and the next steps they need to take.
  • A school or provider will be improving towards ‘outstanding’ – in this case, a full inspection will be quickly conducted to test whether the school has reached the next grade.
  • A school or provider will be declining - in this case, a full inspection team will be brought in within 24-48 hours and a full inspection will take place, making the full range of judgements.
  • requires improvement
    Grade 3 : Requires Improvement

    A school that requires improvement is not yet a good school, but it is not inadequate.

    Schools judged as Requires Improvement will be re-inspected (a ‘full inspection’) and this could be up to 30 months after the publication of the previous report.

    Inadequate
    Grade 4 : Inadequate

    A school that has serious weaknesses is inadequate overall and requires significant improvement, but leadership and management are judged to be Grade 3 or better. This school will receive regular monitoring by Ofsted inspectors.

    A school that requires special measures is one where the school is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and the school’s leaders, managers or governors have not demonstrated that they have the capacity to secure the necessary improvement in the school. This school will receive regular monitoring by Ofsted inspectors.


    Exam results explained


    Key Stage 2 Performance

    Key Stage 2 covers primary school pupils aged 7 to 11. In 2016, year 6 pupils were the first group of children to be tested under the new national curriculum, which is arguably more rigorous than the previous tests. As well as these new tests, the measures used to judge the progress of children changed also; any results pre-2016 cannot therefore be compared with post 2016 results.

    The key measures available for 2016 onwards are:

    Average scaled score in reading/in maths

    This score is known as the ‘scaled score’. The score is an average for pupils in the school. The expected standard is a score of 100 or more. The higher standard is 110 or more. Scaled scores replace the old Key Stage 2 levels, where pupils were expected to reach Level 4 by age 11. The range of scaled scores available is:

  • 80 is the lowest scaled score awarded
  • 100 is the expected scaled score
  • 103 is the national average scaled score for reading and maths
  • 110 or more is the higher scaled score (top 5% of pupils)
  • 120 is the highest scaled score awarded
  • Percentage of pupils meeting the expected standard in reading, writing and maths

    Pupils are ‘meeting the expected standard’ if they achieve a ‘scaled score’ of 100 or more in their reading and maths tests, and their teacher assesses them as ‘working at the expected standard’ or better in writing. Children also take an English grammar punctuation and spelling test, but the results of these are not included in the

    Percentage of pupils achieving at a higher standard in reading, writing and maths

    Pupils are ‘achieving at a higher standard’ if they achieve a ‘scaled score’ of 110 or more in their reading and maths tests, and their teacher assesses them as ‘working at a greater depth within the expected standard’ in writing. This standard was set for the first time in 2016 by the Department for Education to provide information about pupils across England achieving in the top 5%.

    Progress in reading, writing and maths

    Progress scores are a new measure which indicates how the well a school is progressing pupils based on pupils of a similar level in other schools across England. Scores are calculated by comparing the Key Stage 2 test and assessment results of pupils at this school with the results of pupils in schools across England who started with similar assessment results at the end of the previous Key Stage, i.e. Key Stage 1 (age 7). The government says: “These new measures reward schools for making progress with all their pupils… They are fairer to schools in challenging circumstances, as they recognise a school that is doing a good job with an intake with low prior attainment.”

  • 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 1.
  • 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 1.
  • 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 1.
  • The majority of schools have progress scores between -5 and +5.

  • It is difficult to say with certainty how much the progress scores are down to the school (which may have scored higher with a different group of pupils) and how much is down to the pupils (for example some may have performed well at any school). The Department of Education publishes confidence intervals to reflect this uncertainty. We do not show confidence intervals on this site. To see them click the link titled "Full exam performance data and other useful information" under the schools Key Stage 2 results.

    For a more detailed explanation of the above, see Scaled scores at Key Stage 2, Key Stage 2 teacher assessment and Primary school accountability.


    Key Stage 4 GCSE (and equivalent) Performance

    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. It is very important to note that, as with 2014 and 2015 results, 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 academic 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.

    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.


    Key Stage 5 A-Level (and equivalent) Performance

    Key Stage 5 covers secondary school pupils aged 16 to 18. As with all the other Key Stages, in 2016, new measures were introduced to enable the performance and progress of pupils to be compared. As with the Key Stage 4 measures, discussed above, pupil progress features highly as it is considered to be a fairer measure for school comparison.

    The key measures available for 2016 onwards are:

    Progress

    These figures tell you how much progress students who studied academic qualifications at this school or college made between the end of Key Stage 4 and the end of their academic qualification studies, compared to similar students across England. The scores are calculated by comparing the academic qualifications results of students at this school or college with the academic qualifications results of students in schools and colleges across England who started with similar results at the end of the previous Key Stage, i.e. Key Stage 4.

  • A score above zero means students made more progress, on average, than students across England who got similar results at the end of Key Stage 4.
  • A score below zero means students made less progress, on average, than students across England who got similar results at the end of Key Stage 4.
  • A negative progress score does not mean students made no progress, or the school or college has failed, rather it means students in this school or college made less progress than other students across England with similar results at the end of Key Stage 4.
  • The majority of schools and colleges have progress scores between -2 and +2.
  • Average result

    These figures tell you the average grade and average points that students achieved in their academic qualifications. A points value is given to all qualifications so you can compare qualifications of a different level, size and grading system. The number of points are based on the challenge and size of a qualification.

    Grade and points for a student's best 3 A-levels

    A best 3 A levels score is calculated for each student by adding together the points in their best 3 A levels, then summed across a school or college, then divided by three to give a best 3 A levels points per entry, and this is also expressed as a grade.




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