The Committee for Education, Sport & Culture is changing the way the performance of schools and students are measured at the end of Key Stage 4 (GCSEs and equivalent).
There are three reasons for these changes: fairness, quality and comparability.
The Committee believe that the progress of every child is of equal importance and that all students are entitled to a curriculum which is challenging, exciting and balanced. The current GCSE performance measures do not always promote these objectives.
What do we use at the moment?
- At present, an outdated English measure is used. This records the percentage of pupils who achieve five C grades or better, including English and Maths. This measure leads to a number of unintended consequences.
- There are many students for whom the five C benchmark is simply too low an expectation when all students should be challenged to maximise their achievements.
- The five A* - C benchmark tells the Committee little about whether a school has helped its students fulfil their potential. A talented student who just meets the benchmark may have underachieved whereas a lower attainer who narrowly misses the benchmark may have made exceptional progress. It also encourages schools to direct their resources at pupils near the grade C / D borderline because this relatively small group of students will have the biggest effect on the reporting measure. This inevitably disadvantages both lower and higher attainers.
Why are these changes being made?
- The external exams which students take are changing. New 9-1 GCSE qualifications have been introduced in England and for a number of subjects in schools in the Bailiwick. The higher grades have been divided to allow employers and universities to distinguish better between candidates, with the new Grade 9 set above the current A*. The new 9-1 GCSEs are broader and more rigorous, providing the best possible preparation for post-16 education. The new grading system has led to a shift from a grade C (4) to the equivalent of a high C or low B (5) as the standard benchmark for many sixth forms, further education colleges and employers. Students in the Bailiwick cannot afford to have lower standards set than their English counterparts.
What will our performance measures look like?
- The new performance measures will be similar, but not identical, to those now used in England. Guernsey's new headline measure, known as Attainment 8, is calculated using the grades achieved by each student in the subjects shown in the graphic on this page, which are then averaged across all students to give the score for the school.
- The new performance measures bring several benefits. There is an incentive to focus on attainment in a broader range of eight subjects rather than five. Every child, regardless of ability, contributes equally to a school's score. Schools are not incentivised to improve their performance by focussing disproportionately on students near the C - D grade borderline. Students improving from the equivalent of G to F or from D to C or from A to A* will all impact the new measurement equally.
- The Bailiwick will also be able to get back to benchmarking our performance against the highest performing English state schools. This will include reporting the percentage of students achieving Grade 5 (equivalent to a high C / low B) in English and Maths.
How will these changes be implemented?
- These reporting changes will be phased in over the next four years. This is partly due to a number of curriculum differences between Guernsey and England. During this period we will immediately start to use the best possible approximations for Attainment 8 scores while continuing to publish the existing five A* - C measure to allow benchmarking against previous years until the new measures are fully implemented.
- More and more students than ever before, in the Bailiwick, are achieving five A*-C grades including English and Maths and are able to take their studies into the sixth form or into further education. This is a significant achievement and schools deserve credit for driving these improvements.
- Our two 11-18 colleges, once established and operating as one school, will be in a strong position to secure further improvements whilst providing a broader range of options to accommodate students' needs and interests. The move to Attainment 8 will promote rigour and attainment and help schools to respond to students' needs and interests. It is all about delivering excellence and opportunity for every single student regardless of their background or past performance or where in the island they live.