Assessment of compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics: Key Stage 4 performance statistics for England

13 July 2022
Last updated:
13 July 2022


  1. The KS4 performance statistics for England are published on an annual basis by the Department for Education (DfE). The statistics are based on GCSE results, as well as a small set of vocational qualifications, which are linked to demographic information from the School Census that takes place in January each year, as well as Key Stage 2 (KS2) performance data which are used to breakdown KS4 results by prior attainment and to calculate Progress 8 scores.  
  2. There are four components to the KS4 statistics which we considered as part of this assessment: 
    1. The statistical bulletin which provides commentary and headline figures  
    2. The downloadable data files 
    3. The table building service  
    4. The school-level KS4 performance measures which are included on the Compare School Performance website  
  3. The statistics were last assessed against the Code of Practice for Statistics in 2014. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic we had planned to add an assessment of these statistics to our work programme. Due to the changes to the way that grades were awarded in 2020 and 2021, and the pressures that the statistical system was under, we delayed the assessment. Due to the return to grades being awarded via examinations and the importance of these statistics to understanding the long-term impacts of the pandemic on groups of pupils, we started this assessment in January 2022. 
  4. As part of the evidence for this assessment we conducted 28 interviews with a range of key users within Government and across the wider education profession. We also conducted an online questionnaire to gather views on the statistics from a wider range of users. The questionnaire consisted of eight questions and collected information such as user’s satisfaction with different aspects of the statistics. The online questionnaire received 100 useable responses and the analysis is included in Annex A. 
  5. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 and 2021 KS4 releases presented a slightly reduced set of statistics. Specifically, Progress 8 measures were not published during these years and the school level website was not updated in 2020 and only figures for English Baccalaureate (EBacc) entry, entries and pupil destinations after KS4 and 16-18 study were published in 2021.  
  6. The KS4 statistics have undergone several changes in recent years. These have been made in response to: 
    1. The cancellation of summer exams as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the use of centre-assessment grades in 2019/20 and teacher-assessed grades in 2020/21 to award grades. 
    2. A phased introduction of reformed GCSEs on a 9-1 scale, which first fed into the statistics in 2017.  
    3. The introduction of new accountability measures including Progress 8 (which replaced the previous headline measure 5+ A*-C grades including English and maths) and Attainment 8 in 2016, as well as the percentage of pupils achieving grade 5 or above in English and maths in 2017.  
    4. Changes to the way in which pupils are allocated to KS2 prior attainment groups in order to calculate Progress 8.  
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