Provisional Key Stage 4 (KS4) performance data was published this week. This covers the headline measures of Attainment 8, Progress 8, and English Baccalaureate (EBacc), as well as other GCSE and equivalent results. The England data shows that average Attainment 8 is the same as last year (46.7). EBacc entry has risen by 1.6 percentage points, increasing the EBacc average point score (APS) by 0.02 to 4.06. This rise in EBacc entries has been mainly driven by an increase in the proportion of pupils entering history or geography. There is still a large gap in EBacc language component entries between London and the rest of England.
- The England average Attainment 8 score in state-funded schools is 46.7. The gender gap shrunk by 0.1 points, with the male average rising to 44 and the female average staying at 49.4. Regionally, average Attainment 8 varies from 44.6 in the North East, to 49.6 in London
- The England average Progress 8 score for state-funded schools is -0.03. Regional averages range from -0.25 in the North East, to 0.22 in London. London is the only region with a positive average Progress 8 score
- The percentage of KS4 pupils in England entering the EBacc has risen to 40.1%, the highest figure on record. Despite both rising, the gender gap grew to 11.6 percentage points, with 46% of females entering, but only 34.4% of male pupils. Regional average entry rates vary from 33.2% in the North East, to 53.8% in London
- The proportion of pupils entering the history or geography EBacc component rose to 80.8%, the highest on record
- Pupils entering a language GCSE rose by 0.5 percentage points, but is still under half, at 46.6%.
How well did your local authority perform?
There is substantial variation in KS4 performance across the country. London local authorities tend to score higher on Attainment 8, Progress 8 and EBacc entries, while local authorities in the North East and North West are less likely to score highly. Find your local authority on our map to see KS4 performance in your area:
Figure 1: KS4 performance across England
- Sutton has the highest average Attainment 8 at 58.5, while Knowsley has the lowest at 33.7
- Only two of the ten local authorities with the highest Attainment 8 scores are outside London (Trafford and Buckinghamshire)
- The three local authorities with the lowest average Attainment 8 score are all in the North West (Knowsley, Blackpool, and Salford)
- The London average Attainment 8 score is 49.6, compared to 46.2 outside of London.
- Barnet and Ealing have the highest average Progress 8 scores at 0.58, while Knowsley has the lowest at -0.81
- Nine of the ten local authorities with the highest Progress 8 scores are in London. 16 of the top 20, and 24 of the top 40 are in London
- The three local authorities with the lowest Attainment 8 scores also have the three lowest Progress 8 scores
- 16 of the lowest scoring 20 local authorities are in the North East or the North West.
- Hammersmith and Fulham has the highest EBacc entry rate in England, with 72.7% of pupils entering EBacc
- All of the ten local authorities with the highest EBacc entry rates are in London. None of the 50 local authorities with the lowest EBacc entry rate are in London
- Eight of the ten local authorities with the lowest EBacc entry rates are in the North East or the North West.
- At 48.1%, Hammersmith and Fulham has the highest proportion of pupils achieving 9-4 in EBacc in England
- The ten local authorities with the highest proportion of pupils achieving 9-4 in EBacc are all in London
- Sutton had the highest EBacc 9-5 achievement rate in England, at 37.9%. Blackpool had the lowest, with only 3.6% of pupils achieving 9-5 in EBacc
- There is large regional variation, with over a third of pupils in London achieving 9-4 in EBacc, compared with 20.1% in the North East. Looking at 9-5 EBacc achievement, regions vary between 13.1% (North East) and 23.8% (London).
EBacc entries – the London language effect
Figure 2: EBacc component entry rates by region
Inner and outer London have much higher EBacc entry rates than the rest of the country. To understand what is driving this, we looked at the entry rates for each of the five components of EBacc. As expected, all ten regions have very similar entry rates for the English, maths, and science components. English, maths, and science entry rates are at least 94.7% in all regions. While the entry rate is lower for humanities, there is no large variation between regions, and inner and outer London do not score highest. This cannot explain London’s EBacc entry rate.
Instead, we found that it is the language entry rate that sets London apart from the rest of the country. By far the largest variation is in language entry rates, ranging from under four in ten pupils entering, to almost two thirds in inner London. Both inner and outer London have over 60% of pupils entering the language component. The region with the next highest percentage of pupils entering the language component is the South East, where 48.1% of pupils enter.
Outside London, only 44% of pupils enter the EBacc language component. Across inner and outer London, 61.6% of pupils entered the language component.
It is likely that this higher proportion of pupils entering the language component of EBacc is driving both London’s higher overall EBacc entry rate, and their higher EBacc APS. Inner and outer London are the two regions with the highest EBacc APS.
To understand why a far larger proportion of pupils are taking language GCSEs in London compared with the rest of the country, we looked at whether pupils in London are more likely to have a first language that isn’t English. We compared the percentage of secondary school pupils in each local authority whose first language is not English to the percentage of pupils entering a language in EBacc.
Figure 3: EBacc language component entry and APS with non-English first language
This graph exposes the clear difference between London and the rest of England. London local authorities tend to have a far higher percentage of pupils with a first language other than English. Of the 20 local authorities with the highest percentage of pupils with a first language that isn’t English, only Leicester, Slough, and Luton are outside London. There is a clear correlation at a local authority level between having a larger proportion of non-English first language speakers and a higher percentage of pupils entering language GCSEs.
Similarly, there is a clear correlation between a higher proportion of non-English first language speakers and a higher language APS. While these higher APS may be largely driven by the higher entry rates, this demonstrates the impact on the full EBacc APS.
While the correlation is weaker, the local authorities with the highest proportion of non-English first language speakers have higher full EBacc entry rates and slightly higher average overall APS.
We were interested to find out if pupils in London are taking GCSEs in a language spoken at home. The local 2019 data on subject entries is not yet available so we looked at last year’s GCSE entries. We found that GCSEs in languages including Turkish, Bengali, and modern Hebrew were disproportionately taken in London. 79% of all Turkish GCSEs were taken in London. In the rest of England, 0.16% of language GCSEs taken were in Turkish. In London, this figure was 2.39%. Looking at the languages traditionally taught in schools we found that French and German and Spanish make up 91% of language GCSEs outside London compared to only 80% in London.
Behind the headline performance scores, there are significant differences in entry rates across England. As many key performance measures are calculated using the average across several components, having entries in more components makes a real difference to the overall score. While London’s good performance cannot be entirely attributed to languages (inner and outer London also score highly in English and maths), the higher language component entry rates are clearly driving up London’s EBacc performance. We explored whether this higher entry rate can be explained by pupils taking language GCSEs in their first language, and we have found some evidence to suggest that is a factor. GCSEs in languages that aren’t traditionally taught in schools are vastly disproportionately taken by pupils in London.
However, this cannot explain away the regional differences in performance. Today’s performance data shows that there is still significant variation across England in Attainment 8, Progress 8, and EBacc.
Nationally, Attainment 8 is level with last year, while EBacc entry rates have been driven up by increased humanities entries. Only London has a positive average Progress 8 score.