No significant link between academy status and improved pupil progress in latest GCSE results, says new research
1 July 2015
NFER research evidence published today shows that there is no significant difference in overall school performance between academies and similar maintained schools in 2014. This is the conclusion from the Analysis of academy school performance in GCSEs 2014 report, commissioned by the Local Government Association.
This report explores the association between academy status for secondary schools and the attainment of pupils in 2014 GCSE exams, by comparing sponsored and converter academies that have been open for between two and four years and a group of maintained schools that had similar characteristics at the time the schools became academies. Due to inherent differences between them, sponsored and converter academies have been analysed and compared separately.
The key findings of the report are:
- Attainment progress made by pupils in sponsored and converter academies is not greater than in similar maintained schools. The only statistically significant difference in favour of sponsored academies was found in the percentage of pupils who achieved 5 or more A* to C grades.
- There were no short-term benefits in improved school performance that could be associated with the converter academy status. However, it is still too early to judge the full impact of the converter academy status on school performance, because almost all converter academies have been open for three years or less.
- Compared with 2013 school performance data, changes in the way school league tables were calculated in 2014 have differentially affected the GCSE results of sponsored academies, because of the differential use of equivalent qualifications in sponsored academies compared to similar maintained schools.
- There is tentative evidence of an upward trend in the performance of sponsored academies compared to similar maintained schools the longer they are open.
- There was very little evidence of pupils of different types, such as pupils eligible for free school meals, or pupils with high or low prior ability, making relatively more progress in academy schools compared to similar maintained schools. There was evidence that the attainment gap between pupils eligible for free school meals and those that are not is slightly narrower in converter academies than in similar maintained schools, which might show an increased focus on disadvantaged pupils being taken by converter academies.
Commenting on the report Carole Willis, NFER Chief Executive, said: “Growth in the number of academy schools to more than 4,000 in 2015 means that it is crucial to continually evaluate the impact that structural changes are having on schools to inform future policy developments. This is consistent with our recent Thinkpiece on Academies, which argues that any future expansion of the academies programme requires a clear vision from the new government of how it will improve the long-term outcomes for learners.”
More information an academies can be found here:
Jane Parrack, NFER Marketing & Communications Manager: 01753 637245; firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to editors
The Local Government Association is the national voice of local government. We work with councils to support, promote and improve local government. This research report is referenced in the LGA press release: School Standards, Not Structures – say Councils released on 00.01, Wednesday 1 July 2015.
NFER has a worldwide reputation for providing independent and rigorous research in education. As a charity, any surplus generated by the Foundation is reinvested in research projects to provide evidence that improves education and the life chances of learners in the UK and beyond.