Skip to main content

How to understand school performance – everything you need to know

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Schools

A teacher delivering a class to pupils

We publish a range of data and information to help parents understand school performance – here we explain more. 

How is school performance measured? 

At both primary and secondary school, we focus on the progress pupils in a school make as well as their overall attainment. 

At primary school we look at attainment and the progress pupils in a school make, compared to similar pupils nationally, between age 7 and age 11. 

We have recently introduced an assessment when pupils start in reception. This means that in future we will be measuring progress in a primary school from reception until the end of year 6. 

We also report on the proportion of pupils meeting the expected standard in all three of reading, writing and maths, and on the average scores achieved by pupils in reading and in maths. Our mix of progress and attainment measures help us to understand how primary schools are equipping pupils with the building blocks of literacy and numeracy. 

In secondary school we look at the progress they’ve helped pupils make from those Key Stage 2 assessments they took at the end of primary school until GCSE (Key stage 4). 

What are the measures you use for secondary school performance? 

There are six main measures which are designed to encourage secondary schools to teach a broad and balanced academic curriculum, with a strong focus on English and maths. 

These are a mix of attainment and progress measures, alongside information on subjects entered and pupil destinations post-16. 

We have one threshold attainment measure, which tells you the % of pupils in a school who achieve a grade 5 or above in English and maths. 

Other attainment measures, such as Attainment 8 and EBacc Average Point Score, tell you about how well all pupils in a school are doing across a range of subjects. 

Attainment measures are important for explaining the outcomes achieved by pupils in a school. 

The EBacc entry measure tells you how many pupils in a school are entered for the full set of EBacc subjects, which the government feels are the most important core academic subjects for pupils to study. 

Progress 8 tells you about the progress that pupils in a school make from the end of primary school to the end of year 11. It is a type of value-added measure, which means that pupils’ results are compared to other pupils nationally with similar starting points. 

We have introduced a new Progress 8 visual on the Find School and College Performance website, which shows how a school’s score compares to other schools across the country. 

Where can I access data about schools and how can I understand it?  

The data can be found on the Find School and College Performance website. The website is straightforward and easy to use – you can input the name of a school or search by location and you can access all the information you’ll need about a school including attainment data and most recent Ofsted inspection outcome.  

This year we aren’t publishing attainment data for primary schools. This is because primary tests and assessments returned for the first time since 2019, without any adaptations to the assessments and with the same expected standards as in 2019. But we are sharing the data with schools, trusts, local authorities and with Ofsted. We plan to publish primary school performance data as usual for 2022/23. 

When making decisions on which school or college is right for them, parents and students should consider the data as part of the wider context and other information sources, in particular speaking to the school or college.

What is the data used for? 

The data we publish helps parents make informed choices when looking at schools and colleges in their area. It also supports schools to improve and is used to inform Ofsted inspections. 

The data for 2021/22 will need to be used cautiously due to the significant impact that Covid-19 had on the education system. 

The disruption caused by the pandemic affected schools and pupils differently and because of this, it will make it more difficult to interpret why the results are as they are, using the data alone. 

We are advising caution when comparing a school’s performance with national or local authority averages. And we are strongly discouraging users from drawing conclusions based on comparisons with performance data from earlier years or based on direct comparisons with other schools’ performance data. 

We’re also making some changes to the way we present data this year on the website, to help make this clear. 

You can read more about how we present schools and colleges data here - We’re changing the way we present school and college results data this year – what you need to know about performance tables - The Education Hub ( 

How does Ofsted fit into this?  

Ofsted inspections provide a rounded assessment of school quality, based on the intent, implementation and impact of the school’s curriculum; pupils’ personal development, behaviour and attitudes; and the leadership of the school. 

We share school performance measures data with Ofsted, and it uses this to inform inspections. It is important to remember that data is a starting point for Ofsted.  It is used to inform the discussions with school leaders about what they are teaching children, how they are running their school and the impact this has on children’s outcomes. School performance data on its own does not determine an inspection outcome. 

School performance data for 2021/22 will be used sensitively by inspectors, due the uneven impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on pupils and schools. 

Sharing and comments

Share this page