The Department for Education (DfE) announced in 2013 that student progress would be assessed and tracked through the new educational report framework ‘Progress 8’ at the start of this coming academic year. Whilst some 10% of UK schools have already adopted the system, more than 35% of teachers say that they still have a very remedial understanding of it according to a survey conducted by SAM Learning.

‘Progress 8’ follows children’s development from the end of primary school throughout secondary school until they leave. It is however focused primarily on the performance of students at Key Stage 4.

It also puts more emphasis on Maths and English which will be double weighted, a factor that could negatively affect subject areas such as the arts which are categorised in ‘Bucket 3’. Patrick Hayes, Director of the British Educational Suppliers said this about the potential for subjects such as art and music:

“Teachers of subjects in this third bucket worry that their subjects will be overlooked, deemed not ‘academic’ enough and, as a result, side-lined.”


‘Progress 8’, in the opinion of many, solidifies the notion that schools are increasingly becoming narrower and more results-focused as opposed to the traditional pedagogical model that Emerson proposed, eluding to enlightenment as the most important feature of education.

The latest DfE statement on this subject to be released claims that:

“Every increase in every grade a pupil achieves will attract additional points in the performance tables.”

The retort form angry opposers of the implementation of the progress report has largely been ignored, regardless of the many accusations that have been flooding out of organisations such as the NUT and DATAEDUCATOR who believe this to be turning schools into ‘exam factories’.

On the other hand, it actually shifts the focus from modular or end of term exams, which are an intense testing process, towards a more spread-out testing process over the course of the academic year. This isn’t particularly useful for students as they still have to take exams which will still determine their future, but it may help their understanding of a subject to have many small goals (two per week) set for them.

‘Progress 8’ seems to serve statisticians for the most part, and in turn the government who require progress statistics to pass decrees. This is hardly altruistic as the theory of ‘Grade Inflation‘ would suggest. It will ultimately come down to individual teachers and how much they ‘mark-up’ their students’ results.