Stories + Views
Local Schools: DfE Data Shows Their Success
I wrote yesterday about the ‘under-performance’ of academies. One of my LSN co-founders pointed out this was a bit of a negative take. And they were right. Many of the academies have done well but, overall, existing local authority schools have done better. Let’s celebrate some of that success.
Too often the media paints a picture of failing comprehensives. In contrast to the shiny new academies, we get an impression of inner city schools with unmotivated teachers and a culture of low expectations. The DfE data released last week indicates that nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that there has been a transformation, especially in the most deprived areas, over just the last three years.
Taking only the non-academy schools, this is the change in the % achieving the key measure of 5 A-Cs including English and Maths:
It is a remarkable change. While the most advantaged schools (those with less than 10% of students on free school meals) have seen their % rise from 63% to 69%, those in the most disadvantaged schools (more than 40% on free school meals) have leapt from 35% to 50%. The differential between the two categories has fallen, in just three years, from 1.8 to 1.4.
This is a big success story for the Department for Education. But the only press releases I have seen focused only on the achievement of academies. Well done to genuinely outstanding academies like Mossbourne and Burlington Danes. But let’s hear also about the achievements of thousands of schools and tens of thousands of dedicated teachers who have made a real difference in the lives of some of our most disadvantaged young people.
I have written before about Tower Hamlets schools Sir John Cass (up from 45% to 82%) and Bethnal Green (from 27% to 79%), the first with 57% FSM and the second 65%. Take Rokeby School in Newham, with 60% FSM, which went from 35% in 2008 to 65% in 2011. Or Waverley School in Birmingham, with 56% on FSM, which went from 37% in 2008 to 66% in 2011. There are many more local schools whose examples can be quoted.
You won’t hear these success stories from our Education Minister. Indeed any visitor to the DfE web site might be excused for thinking it is the Department for Academies and Free Schools, not the department representing all schools. The DfE data has 87 academies showing an increase in the % achieving 5 A-Cs (including English and Maths) but we will hear much more about these than any of the 2,228 non academy secondary schools that increased their results in this period.
Our hard working students and teachers deserve better. Let us celebrate the growing achievements of all our local schools and applaud the dedicated work going on to change the lives of young people in our most disadvantaged communities.