Concerns about Progress 8

News - 10 May 2016

nasen members have raised concerns about the Progress 8 performance measure because of potential impact on the availability of appropriate educational provision for those with SEND.

For some it is becoming increasingly challenging to fit in the additional provision required to meet the requirements of their EHC plan, such as input from external specialists.  Prior to the Progress 8 measure, schools were able to use disapplication from one particular subject, thus providing continuity in all the other subjects they studied and creating the necessary ‘space’ in the timetable.

nasen’s Chief Executive, Dr Adam Boddison, has raised these concerns with representatives at the DfE and they have provided a formal response (below).  nasen will also be facilitating a meeting between concerned school leaders and representatives from the DfE.  If you would be interested in being involved with this meeting, please register your interest by email.

DfE Response

From 2016 we are replacing the existing 5 A*-C at GCSE including English and maths performance measure with Progress 8. This new measure will show pupils’ progress across 8 qualifications compared to other pupils with the same starting point at the end of primary school. The new measure will place more focus on better teaching for all pupils and make the system of measuring performance fairer for schools. By focusing on progress, schools will be held to account for the performance of all pupils taking relevant qualifications, not just those at the C/D borderline as every grade from every pupil will contribute to the school’s performance. Schools not making good progress with a high performing intake will be identified, and those schools making good progress with lower attaining pupils will be recognised.

For these reasons we believe that the introduction of the Progress 8 measure is good news for pupils with SEND. Other reasons for our believing this include:

  • Progress 8 will encourage schools to offer a broad and balanced curriculum with an academic core. This includes English and maths, which are double weighted to signify their importance, along with at least three further EBacc subjects that will keep pupils’ options open for further study or training.
  • The measure also allows students to study up to three high quality non-GCSE qualifications, thereby ensuring that they still have the opportunity to study a broad range of subjects that reflect individual interests. This will be an important feature for many lower attaining students some of whom will have SEND. A list of approved high value non-GCSE qualifications which can be included in Progress 8 is available at: This shows a broad range of opportunities which will ensure that pupils have access to curriculum choices that they feel may be of greater relevance.
  • Progress 8 does not make it mandatory for pupils to take eight qualifications or for all the qualifications they do take to be GCSEs.  We want every pupil to fulfil their potential, and take the qualifications that will allow them to achieve their goals and move on to their chosen next stage of education or training.  We recognise that for a small minority of pupils, 8 qualifications may not be appropriate.  We expect schools to help pupils choose the right qualifications, and right number of qualifications.
  • We know that there will be a small minority of pupils that are unlikely to be recognised in the Progress 8 measure because their particular needs mean that they cannot enter any GCSEs or high value vocational qualifications (see for example That is why we publish a range of additional information in the performance tables, for example, destination measures.

In addition to Progress 8, we also publish a wide range of measures, including characteristic breakdowns, which provide additional information and context. We also plan to introduce a headline measure to show the percentage of pupils who went on to sustained education, employment or training during the year after they finished their key stage 4 qualifications. We currently publish education destination information in the performance tables and all destination information as experimental statistics. We will implement this headline measure once we are sure the statistics are robust.

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