Progress 8: from the carrot and stick to the chair and whip

Fischer Family Trust Education Datalab analysis of Progress 8 has staggering implications. It is crucial we are clear about the impact this new measure will have on our sense of what constitutes a good school. Chart 1 shows Progress 8 measures the subjects children are encouraged to take and that these are correlated to a scary extent with primary attainment. Clearly, this implies the subjects in Progress 8 Ebacc are considered to be harder. So this means we are going to be putting all pupils in for harder subjects.

But is this ‘one size fits all’ educational model appropriate?

Let’s be clear these new measure are saying UK education will have one track, one pathway, one objective for all and that is academic. This is a fairly radical change from educational strategy of recent times which has attempted to gain greater engagement from pupils by offering more appealing subjects.

It seems likely most schools are well aware of the implications of putting all their children into these subjects because they operate in an economy in which the currency is teenage recalcitrance. This begs the question; if schools previously thought it was the right to appease teenagers with a sweetened offer of subjects why haven’t they more stridently opposed Progress 8 and its imposition of unpopular subjects. The quietness suggests a silent majority or influential minority are not opposed to the policy.

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