The effects of accountability measures in English secondary schools: early and multiple entry to GCSE Mathematics assessments

This study used semi-structured interviews with staff in 14 secondary schools in England to explore strategies for entering students to GCSE Mathematics, focusing on the use of early and multiple examination entry. The key findings suggest that teachers were keenly aware of performativity pressures and that this prompted the use of a number of strategic entry practices, including the frequent use of early entry to allow students multiple examination attempts. This approach aimed to maximise the number of students achieving a grade C, the threshold for school accountability measures and for accessing further education and employment opportunities. Widespread use of early and multiple entry is likely to cease in England following amendments to accountability measures announced in 2013, yet this study adds a further perspective to the well-established literature detailing the impact of accountability measures in schools, as well as depicting teachers’ views on the effects of early and multiple entry upon pupils’ education.

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