Working with secondary school leadership teams around the country in 2014-15 I found none that were not acutely aware of the significance to them of the changing headline KS4 measures in 2016. Everywhere they were gearing up for the cultural shift away from maximising outcomes in terms of 5+A*-C including English and Mathematics to maximising each and every students’ progress from KS2.
Although the Post-16 accountability measures and minimum floor standards are also changing significantly in 2016 I found far fewer leadership teams with a laser sharp focus on this. To some extent this reflects the ‘unintended consequences’ of the past 15 years when schools have largely ‘fallen’ or ‘risen’ based on their performance at KS4.
Sharp Headteachers are certainly on the ball and realise that outcomes in the Sixth Form – that have always been of such critical importance to their students – can now have a significant impact on their school.
As most of you will know there will be five headline Post-16 measures published in January 2017 Performance Tables based on 2016 results. These are progress (from KS4), attainment (average grade), progress in GCSE English and Mathematics, retention and destinations. This does not mean that the vast explosion of published Post-16 data will go away, but it clarifies the significant areas – along with ‘Prevent & Challenge’ – that all colleges and schools with sixth forms must prioritise.
The progress of students will be the main focus of the future accountability system. Minimum standards – as yet undefined (14/08/15) – will be set on the progress of students as at KS4.
The progress measure will show separate values for:
- Level 3 academic programmes
- Level 3 Applied General programmes
- Level 3 Tech Level programmes
- Level 2 Substantial Vocational Qualification programmes
The academic and Applied General scores will be calculated using the Level 3 Value Added (L3VA) measure. A Shadow L3VA was released to each provider in July 2015 and the DfE published ‘A Guide to 2014 Shadow Performance Table Measures’. All school and college leaders would be strongly advised to compare their Shadow 2014 L3VA with their actual validated 2014 L3VA.
Looking again at the five headline measures, retaining your students and ensuring you are preparing them successfully for future education, training and employment are both important. Starting students on programmes of study that they will complete successfully is crucial for them and you and is perhaps even more challenging for you now as we move into the post-16 linear landscape.
Finally the publication of the Common Inspection Framework, to be used in all inspections from September 2015, prepares you and the Inspectorate for a world in which the progress of your school or college will be predominantly defined by the progress made by your students.
John Philip is Senior Educational Consultant for Alps and also works as an Associate for PiXL and is a national trainer who specialises in leadership and maximising achievement at KS5. He also works as a senior consultant and gives feedback to schools and LAs on the quality of post-16 provision. John has written numerous articles, and his ‘99 Ideas to Raise Achievement at KS5’ draws on his four decades of experience in sixth forms.