Progress 8, oh progress 8. You crept up on us didn’t you? We knew you were coming – but are we really ready? We chose not to opt in early as our curriculum was not tailored to ‘fill the buckets’. We are ready for you now Progress 8, we are ready! But is our data? For a school such as ours, where attainment on entry is low, having the headline figure based on progress is a step in the right direction. We have the opportunity to show what a difference we are really making to students. At a recent FFT conference in Birmingham, Dr Tim Leunig stated, when questioned, that if we filled all the Progress 8 buckets and taught our students well, then we should get a good progress 8 score. Logical, yes – sensible advice, yes (because we don’t want to get it really wrong and wonder why because we are using an old data set), but how do we evidence progress 8 going forward? The official answer is we don’t! I absolutely understand this is a changeable measure, based on an individual cohort, and that application of this data to subsequent cohorts should be treated with caution – but what about Ofsted? What about school improvement advisors, what about local authorities and academy trusts, governors and all those who want to see projections of how our school will be doing in future and want us to set a progress 8 target for our 2016 cohort and beyond right now? Will they accept ‘sorry we do not have any data to show you, or we made an educated guess?’ Doubtful. “scientific fact—there’s no real evidence for it—but it is scientific fact”... springs to mind, a la Brass Eye! For those schools with high attainment who can show a good average grade, a good rate of students achieving Ebacc and a good English & mathematics A*- C rate, this is perhaps not seen as such a burning issue as they have some evidence of their performance. (That said, is it accurate- high attaining students does not necessarily mean students making good progress. Even if outside bodies are not pressing for it, these schools do need it as much as we do – to make sure they do not come a cropper!) Even if we use the ‘well we have applied last years data with caution approach so we get an idea of how our 2016 cohort is performing’, how do we apply this to our 2017 cohort and beyond with their GCSE’s being, to varying degrees, in 1-9 format and all point scores being mapped to 1 to 9 but the only data we will have for the DfE at that point being in 1-8? On one hand, perhaps it is too soon to predict a progress 8 score for our current year 10 students. Whilst we can keep treading water with the Year 10 on this measure, sweeping it all under the carpet until next year could leave us with no time to work out a real solution. At present, as a temporary solution for this year, to allow us to identify our strengths and weaknesses within that cohort, we have dealt with this by taking the Ofqual advice on the new grading structure, and mapping the 1-9 grades in English and mathematics back to the 1-8 scale, some of which was easy, some more difficult. We are using this, with extreme caution but it gives us the capability to perform at least some analysis.