Most "coasting" schools are academies

Henry Stewart's picture

According to Schools Week, “More than 900 schools with successive less than ‘good’ Ofsted inspections face being forced into becoming academies or joining a new trust from September.”

In fact there are 1,143 mainstream schools with successive “less than good” inspections and 844 of these are already academies. That means that 74% of what the DfE describes as “coasting” schools are currently academies, compared to 44% of schools overall.

("Coasting" schools are schools withsuccessive less than "good" Ofsted inspections.)

The DfE White Paper makes a remarkable claim: “More than 7 out of 10 sponsored academies are now rated Good or Outstanding compared to around 1 in 10 of the local authority maintained schools they replaced”

This is nonsense. The data that the DfE claims this is based on, here, reveals a very different picture.

First only 56% (1,415 out of 2,408), not 7 out of 10, of sponsored academies are now rated Good or Outstanding. But they also have a far worse performance than local authorities in taking schools out of “requires improvement” or “inadequate” status.

For the 1,583 sponsored academies that were “requires improvement” or “inadequate” in their previous Ofsted inspection, 65% became “good” or “outstanding”. That may seem impressive, until you see the results for local authorities.

Of the 4,257 local authority schools that were “requires improvement” or “inadequate”, 93% became good or outstanding. Even among the 151 previously rated “inadequate”, 88% became good or outstanding.

There is no evidence anywhere in this data that only 1 in 10 local authority schools became good or outstanding. What the DfE’s own data actually shows is that if a school remains in local authority hands it is far more likely to improve than if it becomes an academy.

Sponsored academies are the schools that moved to academy status because they were seen by the DfE as failing. Converter academies are those that became academies because they were successful, being rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.

Yet converter academies also perform less well than local authority schools at improving “failing” schools. Of the 177 converter academies previously rated inadequate (and remember these were schools that, under local authority provision, were rated good or outstanding), only 71% became good or outstanding at their most recent Ofsted. 

This should not be news to the DfE. As far back as 2014 they found that only 3 of the top 20 multi academy trusts (MATs) were above average in terms of value added. In 2015 PWC confirmed the same pattern, with only 3 of the top 16 MATs being above average for value added.

And in 2016 the DfE’s own analysis found that two thirds of secondary multi-academy trusts (MATs) had value added that was below average with 54% being “significantly below average”. 

It is to be welcomed that the number of schools rated Good or Outstanding has gone from 68% in 2010 to 88% today. However it is clear that a large part of that improvement is down to local authority maintained schools and that, when schools are transferred to become academies they are likely to lag behind rather than perform better than under the local authority.

It is clear from the data that the best way to improve “failing” schools is to move them back into local authority provision.





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