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English in the league tables – what counts

Amidst the celebrations and congratulations of yesterday’s GCSE results, there seems to have been some confusion over what English courses count in what measures. In my conversations with school leaders over the last 24 hours, I’ve tried to pick the most commonly asked questions and put everything down in one place.

Progress 8 (P8) and Attainment 8 (A8)

The new headline measure, on which the floor standard will be based, will count either English Language, English Literature or (this year only) Combined English.

The highest of English Language or Literature will count in the double weighted English bucket of P8 and A8 – providing students have been entered for both. The other may count in the open bucket, if one of the highest of the students’ other subjects. If a student is only entered for one, it will go into the English bucket but will not be double weighted.

If students studied the Combined English, then (for this year) it will count in the English bucket, and will be double weighted.

There is little point in trying to work out your school’s P8 score at this stage, as entry patterns will have changed and it is ultimately a relative measure. Any estimate must be read with a big caveat.

The Ebacc

For a student to have ‘passed’ the Ebacc, they must have a C+ in Literature or Language, provided they were entered for both.

For this year only, if a student gets a C+ in Combined English, then it will count towards the Ebacc score.

Basics measure

Unlike the previous measures, the so-called ‘basics’ measure, the percentage of students passing English and maths is based on whether a student gets a C+ in English Language, or English Literature or Combined English, regardless of whether or not they were entered for both.

5 A*-C including EM

The old measure is no longer a headline measure that schools will be held formally to account on. That being said, many Local Authorities, multi-academy trusts and local governing bodies have requested this information to make year on year comparison.

If this is the case, it only makes sense to use English Language or Combined English in terms of what counts, otherwise it’s a meaningless comparison.

The DfE have now said they will publish this figure in the downloadable data in January. However, it is still not a headline measure. The DfE will also use the 2015 criteria by only including English Language or Combined English.

Expected progress in English and maths

Again, this is an old measure, but some schools have been asked to report it. As above, it’s only meaningful for comparison if you use the old criteria of English Language or Combined English.

Data handling systems

Some of the confusion seems to have arisen from the fact that some systems (e.g. 4Matrix and Sisra) allow you to work out the old measures, with the highest of Literature or Language counting. Many of these providers have said they will be releasing a patch to make it Language or Combined only.


This is the last year that IGSEs will count in performance measures. They work in the same way as detailed above for GCSEs.

Year 12 resits

As with all the new headline measures, Language and Literature have parity. Therefore a student with a C+ in Literature, but not in Language, will not need to resit English in Year 12.

However, for students who don’t have a C+ in English Language, English Literature or Combined English, they will have to sit either Combined English or English Language in 2016-2017.

2016-2017 is the last year that there will be Year 12 resits in both the autumn and the summer.

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