The secondary school performance tables give information on the school performance for pupils at the end of key stage 4 showing how key stage 4 results compare with other schools and colleges in a local authority area and in England as a whole. They also provide information on pupil absence, finance, school workforce, Ofsted inspection results and education destinations.

If you are a new user to the performance tables, please refer to How to use the website for guidance.

About exams and qualifications

In England, pupils aged 14-16 in secondary education work towards national qualifications, usually the General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs). GCSEs are academic qualifications awarded in specified subjects. Some subjects are compulsory to take in secondary schools under the national curriculum. These subjects are English, mathematics and science. Each GCSE is assessed by formal examinations or by course work, or by a combination of the two.

GCSEs provides a uniform framework of assessment which grade all candidates in all subjects from A* to G (with U given to those whose papers are “ungraded”). The grades are equivalent to two "levels" of the National Qualifications Framework (levels 1 and 2). Grades A* to C are level 2 (intermediate) qualifications, while grades D to G are level 1 (foundation) qualifications. Some pupils may decide to take one or more GCSEs before or after they sit the others, and people may apply to take GCSEs at any point either internally through an institution or externally.

Pupils may also work towards vocational or other qualifications approved for teaching at key stage 4.

For schools that have opted into the new Progress 8 accountability measure a year early, grades are converted to a 1-8 scale. Please see Progress 8 Opt in schools.

Note: only qualifications on the approved list of qualifications count in the performance measures A full list of the qualifications that can count in 2014/15 performance measures can be found here: inclusion of qualifications in 2015.

School performance at key stage 4 is measured by exam results in GCSEs and equivalent qualifications, as well as pupil progress from key stage 2 to key stage 4. The key stage 4 exam results are reported in terms of the percentage of pupils who achieved 5 or more A* to C grades in GCSEs (or equivalent subjects), average point scores and by different pupil groups. Pupils’ progress is reported in terms of expected progress for English and mathematics and the value added measure which indicate how far each child has progressed, between the end of key stage 2 and the end of key stage 4, compared with pupils of similar ability nationally.

The performance tables also report school achievement in terms of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc). The EBacc is a performance measure that has been established to provide information to parents, and others, about the achievements of pupils in a core set of academic subjects which are shown to enhance the chances of progressing on to further study. A detailed list of the GCSEs that count towards the EBacc can be found here.

Two major reforms were implemented which affect the calculation of key stage 4 performance measures. Changes to qualifications that count in the performance tables came into effect in the 2014 tables, including restrictions made to non-GCSE qualifications that are included in the key stage 4 performance tables. This included the removal of around 3,000 qualifications from performance measures; adjustment of the point scores of non-GSCEs and the restriction on the number of non-GSCE qualifications that count to two per pupil.

The introduction of an early entry policy to only count a pupil’s first attempt at a qualification came into effect for EBacc subjects on 29 September 2013 and is now expanded to apply to all subjects in 2014/15. Further information on the major reforms can be found at here and detail of the qualifications affected by this can be found in the discounting guidance.

Content of the secondary school performance tables

The tables show for each school:

  • background including name, address and telephone number
  • key stage 4 results including test results and pupil progress from key stage 2 to key stage 4, results by pupil groups are also provided
  • Progress 8 and Attainment 8 scores for schools that have opted in to the new accountability system one year early
  • information on pupil absence measured by rates of overall pupil absence and persistent absence
  • information on schools’ income and expenditure for the financial year 2014-2015
  • statistics relating to teachers and school workforce
  • schools’ most recent Ofsted inspection grade, the date on which the inspection took place and links to their Ofsted reports
  • the education destinations of pupils eg the percentage of pupils continuing their education in school, further education (FE) or sixth form college, higher education (HE) institution, independent school, specialist provider and the percentage training through an apprenticeship.

How to interpret the secondary school performance measures

The performance tables publish a wide range of measures, covering many different aspects of school performance. However, these measures cannot cover all aspects of each school and its pupils' achievements. School performance may be affected by a number of factors such as the prior attainment and socio-economic background of the school’s intake, school size and type, teaching quality and school governance.

Schools may also be achieving in a number of areas outside of performance tables measures, such as the personal and social development of pupils. Therefore, the tables should be considered alongside other important sources of information such as Ofsted reports and information from schools and colleges themselves.

Please refer to the “How to interpret school performance measures” section for more information.

Key users

The secondary school performance measures are used by a wide range of people. Parents often look at the school performance measures and other information to help them choose a school for their child or children, or to help them understand the performance of the school their child is attending. Parents are often interested in looking at key stage 4 test results, pupil progress and the performance by different pupil groups.

The government use the measures within the performance tables to monitor the overall attainment of pupils and schools in England. The Department for Education also applies ‘floor standards’ to identify schools where intervention is needed to bring standards up to an acceptable level. The performance measures used in the assessment of secondary schools against floor standards are:

  • five or more GCSEs at grade A* to C or equivalent, including GCSEs (approved level 1/level 2 certificates) in both English and mathematics and
  • progress measures in English and mathematics
  • For schools that have opted in early to the new Progress 8 accountability measures a school will be below the floor standard if its Progress 8 school score is below -0.5, and the upper band of the 95% confidence interval is below zero.

More information on the floor standards can be found in the expected levels of school and college performance (floor standards) section.

More information on how other users use the performance tables can be found in the Key users section in About Performance Tables.

Other resources

For other resources about Ofsted, and school performance in devolved administrations, please follow the link.