‘MAT performance data should not be used to infer performance of the MAT system as a whole,’ the Department for Education says in its 2019 report on multi-academy trust performance in Key Stage 2 tests.
64% of 11-year-olds in MATs reached the expected standard in the combined reading, writing and maths measure. The national average of all state-funded mainstream primary schools is 66%. At MAT level, just over half (53%) didn’t reach the national average.
Hence the warning not to use the figures to attack the academies programme. After all, academization, especially within a multi-academy trust is, trumpeted as a way of raising performance not lowering it.
There are valid reasons for treating these results with caution*. MATs with fewer than three schools are excluded from the data as are academies which have been in a MAT for less than three years. Progress measures are ‘in-year relative measures which, combined with the changing composition of MATs each year mean they should not be compared over time.’ The proportion of sponsored mainstream academies, those which were often inadequate before becoming academies, is ‘higher in MATs measures than across all academies.’
Comparing the overall MAT score with the overall state-funded mainstream score is not comparing like-for-like.
However, if the figures had shown the overall MAT score was higher than the national average, would the DfE have been so reticent? It’s likely the figures would have been hailed as ‘proof’ that academies were better than the much-maligned local authority-maintained schools.
CORRECTION 16 December 09.22: Grammar error in headline corrected
*See methodology document here.