How are England Primary Academies Performing? @SchoolDash data show ‘mixed results’

SchoolDash has released a new analysis of converter and sponsor-led academies, which examines the effects of academy conversion on primary schools, comparing them to LA-controlled schools while allowing for potential confounding factors such as levels of economic deprivation and pupil prior attainment. The analysis also offers various facts and figures on the timings, locations and characteristics of primary academies.

Examining Academies:  For full analysis, maps and graphs see:

  • *NEW* Part 3 - Primary academies: A new study on the effect of academy conversion on primary schools.
  • Part 2 - Sponsored academies: Previously underperforming secondary schools that have been required to convert to academy status and removed from local authority control with the aim of improving their performance.
  • Part 1 - Converter academies: Secondary schools that have voluntarily chosen to convert to academy status and become independent of local authority control. (approx 70% of academies fall into this category.)

SUMMARY: The Data Shows:

  • There’s no evidence that the already good converter academies get any better following academisation, but previously poorly performing sponsor-led academies improve markedly. Given the numerous differences between the sectors, this is perhaps surprisingly similar to the results we saw for secondary schools.

  • Sponsor-led academies still, on average, underperform other schools, even those with similarly challenging intakes. However, they do appear to have become noticeably better in a relatively short time following academy conversion.

  • The improvements at sponsor-led academies are especially noticeable for disadvantaged pupils, with one attainment gap falling by about two-thirds in two years.

  • While 65% of secondary schools are already academies, the same applies to less than 20% of the more than 17,000 mainstream state primary schools in England. This means that compulsory academisation will have a disproportionately large effect on the primary sector, with over 80% being forced to convert, often against their will. A dozen local authority areas – from North Tyneside, Sefton and Warrington to West Berkshire, Camden and Brighton & Hove – currently have no primary converter academies at all.

  • Overall, these results suggests a very similar – perhaps surprisingly similar – picture to the one we saw in secondary schools: when converted to academies, good schools generally stay good and bad schools generally get better. This raises questions for both sides in the current debate.

Timo Hannay, founder of SchoolDash commented:

“The challenge for those who support compulsory academisation, is to explain why a good school should be forced to convert against its wishes if there are unlikely to be any tangible academic gains. And the challenge for those who oppose it is to explain how else they would reduce the disparity between the best and the worst schools in the country, a gap that is still far too wide.”

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