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Accountability, CPD

Acing Attainment 8 – Do You Have the Answers?

This blog post might not make total sense if you haven’t had a look at my previous one: The Implications of GCSE Changes to School Accountability.  In the post there was an exercise to complete on calculating Attainment 8 and this is the follow up post with the answer to the exercise.

Attainment 8 - 2017

The Changing Attainment 8

The “answer” to the calculating Attainment 8 exercise is not simply about checking the correct numerical totals have been determined; they hopefully provide snapshots of what might happen in terms of the changing curriculum and impact on the lower and middle attainers of the redistribution of GCSE point score.  It’s time to get the curriculum sorted for all pupils, if you haven’t all ready, and focus on great teaching, assessment & learning.

The change from eight grades (letters) to nine grades (numbers) produces an increase in the number of points available for high attainers.  Instead of 7 and 8 being awarded for A and A* respectively there is the potential to score between 7 and 9 points.  In the 2017/2018 change from one system to another only the A* (point score = 8.5) will increase.  It is likely that the point score of higher attainers increases over the next few years particularly as we move from 2016 to 2017 with the introduction of the numerical scale.

Overall the point score will dip quite significantly from 2016 to 2017; middle and lower attainers’ point scores decrease due to the reduction in points awarded for certain grades.  In 2016 grades G to C will be worth 1 to 5 points respectively whereas in 2017 the same grades will be worth from 1 to 4 points with grades, E, D and C each worth one point less.

It’s also worth remembering that the new “pass grade” will be a grade 5 which is equivalent to the top end of a current grade C.  It is anticipated that this will reduce pass rates by over 20 percentage points; for example, instead of pass rates for English and Mathematics being in the mid-high sixties they will be in the low forties.  This will also affect the percentage of students achieving a pass in the combined English and Mathematics which is likely to be in the high thirties.

The exemplar suggests that schools will move towards a greater percentage of students studying EBacc subjects, in response to the Government seeking to implement 90% of pupils studying the EBacc, and other subjects will see a decline in numbers.  This will present a further recruitment challenge for schools who may, at the same, time also be implementing redundancy procedures or looking to retrain teachers so they can teach a different subject area.  Teachers may well vote with their feet at this point.  EBacc pass rates are likely to decrease as a percentage of pupils studying them from 2017 as the new Grade 5 pass rate is required in 2017 for English & Mathematics and 2018 for the other EBacc subjects.

Reviewing the Sheets

In an attempt to limit errors I approached the exercise in a systematic way looking to identify using a colour coding system which subjects should go in the English & Maths basket, the EBacc Basket and the Open basket

Table of changes

Please note in some of the examples it is possible to use another one of the qualifications as opposed to those highlighted as long as they follow the rules above.  For example, in 2016 Phil could have either the GCSE RE or Music qualification included in the open basket (I’ve highlighted Music but RE is equally valid as they both have a point score of 5).  Similarly in 2019, Simon could have the MFL grade 4 included in the EBacc basket instead of one of the Sciences which were also grade 4.

Answers to the Attainment 8 Challenge:

Calculating Attainment 8 2016-2019 – Answers – PDF

If you spot any errors please send me an email via the blog or tweet me the correction; I’ve checked and double checked but I’m bound to have missed something.



11 thoughts on “Acing Attainment 8 – Do You Have the Answers?

  1. Clearly there is a lot of work and effort here.
    Does any of this make students better educated or more fulfilled?
    Is this why teachers come into the profession?
    I feel sad that we are reduced to this but understand why intelligent people feel under pressure to focus on this rather than making a real difference. (Yes I know points mean students get to jump through more hoops on the next stage of their journey, but where does all this end? Deep down, is it right?)

    Posted by AssemblyTube (@AssemblyTube) | March 20, 2016, 1:46 pm
  2. I thought that the combined English GCSE award will get doubled for 2016?

    Posted by Deborah Harvey | March 30, 2016, 11:07 pm
  3. Hi Stephen
    I have checked and, page 33 of the latest DfE document on Progress 8 ( Jan 2016) confirms that English GCSE result Will be double counted for this summer ( 2016). it won’t be available as a qualification beyond 2015-2016 so becomes irrelevant for future P8 comparisons.

    Posted by D Harvey | March 31, 2016, 11:53 am
  4. Hi Stephen, this is a really excellent activity and very insightful. I have one query about the RE on the summer 2018 table as this is in grades but I thought it would be on the new points as it’s reformed for first teaching 2016, therefore would be on 1-9 in summer 2018. Am I using the wrong information?
    Thank you for clarifying.

    Posted by Jane Taylor | April 8, 2016, 3:21 pm
    • Good spot Jane; you’re correct as St. Mary’s are currently making final determination about which board to go with. Love the fact RE changes at the same time as the EBacc subjects whilst the DfE still deny it’s a humanities subject.

      Posted by LeadingLearner | April 8, 2016, 3:50 pm
      • This whole area of reform is like sitting on shifting sand..blink and another change happens!

        Posted by D Harvey | April 8, 2016, 10:22 pm


  1. Pingback: The Implications of GCSE Changes on School Accountability | @LeadingLearner - March 26, 2016

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