17 October 2014
Academy schools are schools that are independent of direct accountability to local authorities, being directly funded by and accountable to central government. The academy school programme began under the Labour government in the early 2000s, replacing poorly performing inner city secondary schools with an academy, but the programme has increased more rapidly since 2010 when all schools have been able to apply to become academies. In 2014, academies make up more than half of all secondary schools in England.
The Local Government Association commissioned NFER to investigate how performance in national examinations in academy secondary schools compares to performance in similar non-academies, to attempt to find out whether performance was better than it might have been otherwise.
- Attainment progress between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 outcomes, such as capped point score and percentage achieving 5+ A*-C grades including English and maths, is higher after two years in sponsored academies compared to similar non-academy schools.
- There was no significant difference in attainment progress after two years between converter academies and similar non-academy schools, suggesting the school performance benefits are limited, at least in the short term.
- Attainment progress in sponsored academies compared to similar non-academies is not significantly different over time when the outcome is measured as GCSE points, excluding equivalent qualifications such as BTECs. This suggests that sponsored academies either use more equivalent qualifications, or that their pupils do better in them. The same was found for converter academies, though to a lesser extent than in sponsored academies.