NAHT met for one of our regular meetings with the secondary accountability team at the DfE last week.
There is no sign of the long overdue government response to the EBacc consultation; we will continue to press that this response takes account of the incredibly strong opposition to the proposal that 90% of students follow the EBacc curriculum.
On our agenda was a concern around the definition of a GCSE "good" pass when grades change to 9-1. The government position is that grade 5 is a good pass but this represents an arbitrary raising of the bar from the current "C" grade as the bottom of a grade 4 is aligned to the bottom of a current "C". Colleges and employers are therefore being encouraged to set their entry requirements at a grade 4 if a "C" was previously sufficient. This will lead to confusion and a potential lack of consistency.
We also raised a concern that the technical and vocational qualifications for performance tables 2019 had not yet been published and that this causes problems for schools with planning resources, the curriculum and developing option choices for students. We were assured publication of this is "imminent".
In terms of Progress 8, it was clarified that this was designed as a whole school performance measure and not something to be used at a departmental or teacher level; there is anecdotal evidence that schools are attempting to calculate Progress 8 scores for departments and even for teachers. It is also important to remember that a Progress 8 score cannot be predicted and so no stakeholders (including Ofsted and Governors) should ask for this.
We also raised member concerns that a few pupils can have a significant impact on a schools P8 score. Analysts at the DfE are working on possible solutions to this and we will update members when further information is available.
There are also concerns about the understanding of Progress 8 particularly by parents, including parents of Year 5/6 primary pupils who might look at the information when choosing schools. The DfE have focussed their parental engagement around social media channels, for example, creating and sharing a video on YouTube. NAHT suggested that more needed to be done, particularly as the data has just been published and that primary schools might also want to link to information to help parents on their websites. We will work with the DfE to find ways to disseminate more information and increase understanding.
Page Published: 31/01/2017