Academies, so the Government says, are so necessary for school improvement that it wants all English schools to convert. But the data for this year’s primary school Sat results show little difference between types of primary schools. 54% of pupils in local authority (LA) maintained primary schools, that is non-academies, reached the new expected standard. 53% of pupils in primary academies and free schools did so.
57% of pupils in converter academies reached the expected standard. These were primary schools which were generally high-performing before conversion. Conversely, 43% of pupils in sponsored academies reached this standard. But sponsored academies were generally low-performing before becoming academies.
48% of pupils in free schools reached the expected standard. The number of these schools is, however, too tiny to come to ‘robust conclusions’ about performance of primary free schools as a group. Department for Education statisticians say many of the free schools which entered pupils for Sats were formerly private schools. The majority of primary free schools have not been open long enough to have a Year 6 cohort.
Given the Government’s enthusiasm for academy conversion, it should be expected that primary academies would outperform non-academies. But they don’t. Yet millions upon millions have been spent, and will continue to be spent, on academy conversion. And the pressure is on for primary non-academies, still the majority of such schools, to convert.
The drive towards mass academization of England’s schools should cease. And the money saved could go some way to alleviate the school funding crisis.
The argument that academies raise standards is one of the eight myths debunked in our book, ‘The Truth about Our Schools’. You still have two weeks to win a free copy.