Government gets it wrong on academies: again and again

Henry Stewart's picture
 2
The coalition government has focused its education policy on  mass conversion of schools to academies. Over the last three weeks Local Schools Network has examined some of the claims made, and found them lacking any sound factual basis. This post brings together some of those investigations for easy reference:

Cameron misleads select committee on Academy funding



Fiona Millar investigates Cameron's claim that anybody can see the funding each academy gets, and finds it simply untrue. details of funding levels for academies is not publicly available.

Gove gets his Facts Wrong



Janet Downs examines some of the claims made by Education Secretary Michael Gove and finds a rather tenuous relationship to the facts.

DfE claims on Academy success do not stand up



My analysis on the DfE 2011 data shows that the claims for academies fall apart when they are compared to similar schools. Also here and full set of posts here.
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Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 18/03/2012 - 08:42

It's not just LSN contributors who find the Government's rhetoric is not supported by evidence. Channel 4 FactCheck investigated Mr Gove's claims about academies and concluded that "A dose of healthy scepticism appears to be needed whenever ministers seek to use statistics to prove the supposed superiority of the academy model. On the other hand, it’s not entirely fair to say, as several union leaders did this week, that there is no evidence whatsoever that academies are increasing performance. Much of the academic research done so far has tended to show positive results, including the counter-intuitive effect noted by Machin and Vernoit where schools that were geographically close to successful academies saw their results improve as well, even though the academies tended to poach the “best” pupils in the area. What we still don’t know is whether the improvements will continue in the long term, whether they will be felt in academies that were already academically successful, whether the effect has anything to do with increased autonomy, and whether the whole project is cost-effective."

http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/factcheck/8994

PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found in 2008 that when schools improve they use similar methods which have nothing to do with academy status. And many of the reports cited by both the past and present governments (PwC, National Audit Office, London School of Economics) contained warnings or negative findings which were ignored (see FAQs above for more information). As early as 2005, the Commons Education Committee expressed doubts about whether the academy programme was cost-effective - again, this warning from the then Government's own committee has been brushed aside.

Deception about academies has been going on since academies were first introduced as my analysis of evidence cited by Lord Adonis has shown. This deception continues.

http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2012/03/deception-about-academies-...

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 18/03/2012 - 09:04

The Government's propaganda is not confined to academies. When it uses international comparisons to show that the UK is "plummetting down league tables" it compares the results of the 2009 PISA tests with those of 2000. But the Government knows that the OECD has said no comparison can be made because the 2000 figures were faulty. The warning was made quite clear in the OECD's analysis of the UK 2009 performance and repeated by FullFact in December 2010.

http://fullfact.org/factchecks/school_standards_oecd_pisa_data_media_con...

At the same time any good news about UK or English education is buried - see International Comparisons in FAQs above (look for TIMSS results), and this earlier thread about the deafening silence which greeted positive comments about maths teaching in England by "Eurydice", the EC's education research division.

http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2012/01/england-scores-more-highly...

It's not just the Government that relishes portraying UK/English state education in a negative light: below are just three examples:

http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/03/the-mail-gets-it-wrong-%e2...

http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2010/12/state-education-suffers-fr...

http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/06/uk-state-education-is-not-...

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