Secondary schools today received provisional Progress 8 data for 2016. This is a significant milestone given the importance attached to Progress 8 in the secondary school accountability framework.

The rest of us will have to wait until provisional data is published in October.

In the meantime DfE has published some very useful technical information that anyone can see on its performance tables checking site.

This information gives us some clues about how Progress 8 and Attainment 8 have brought about changes to the curriculum in schools.

In the chart below, we look at the change in average Attainment 8 scores for each prior attainment band between 2014 and 2016. (We use data for 2014 because 2015 was heavily affected by the Key Stage 2 boycott of 2009.)

It is clear that Attainment 8 scores have risen most sharply for pupils with a fine grade of between about 3 and 3.9 at the end of Key Stage 2.


Most (but not all) the increase in Attainment 8 has been driven by an increase in entries in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects.

In 2014, our calculations suggest pupils with a mean KS2 fine grade of 3.0 entered 0.9 EBacc subjects on average, and those with a fine grade of 3.9 entered 1.59 subjects. The equivalent figures for 2016 were 1.84 and 2.43 respectively.


As we have written previously, an increase in entries in EBacc subjects for lower-attaining pupils is not necessarily a bad thing. We plan to return to this research later in this term.