School league tables – academic analysis of what Progress 8 means

A background comment & for guidance from Nick Marshall, post-graduate researcher, Sheffield Hallam University, who has researched school league tables and explains what the Progress 8 score means in relation to the data published:

“Progress 8 needs to be treated with caution as it is only one measure amongst many that is used to judge the performance of a school. It is not adjusted to take account of levels of challenge for schools, the population characteristics of the schools local community or whether it selects high ability students only. It also importantly does not reveal how the baskets of subjects are made up in each school. Some schools may focus on all academic subjects whilst others may include vocational subjects in their Progress 8 Figure.

In 2015 The Department for Education published 158 indicators alone that related to KS4 performance in each English secondary school and in 2016 Progress 8 will only be one of those indicators. The published performance tables only provide parents with some of that data. The other indicators are accessible but will need to be downloaded as data files from the DFE website. It should also be realised that there is a lot that these tables will not tell us such as; the ethos of the school, the quality of teaching, the whole experience that pupils will have at that school and whether this school is one at which their child will flourish.”

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