Stories + Views
Will Primary Academies improve results?
The evidence speaks for itself.
It is often forgotten that we have had primary academies, as part of all-through academies, since 2002, giving plenty of time to assess their performance. As with secondary academies, a look at the results gives enough evidence to doubt the effectiveness of the extra money which has been directed towards the academy programme.
Michael Gove has said that he will force the bottom performing 200 primaries to become academies. Coyly the Department for Education has refused to name the schools, possibly because there are at least 2 academies in that list. (The Steiner School, Hereford, appears not to have reported results).
For some reason Mr Gove has included 4 primaries in Haringey in his list of primaries to be forced into academy status and has, at the point of writing, disbanded a governing body which opposed him. Given that we know the names of these schools we can compare some of the all-through academy results with these schools and decide which we feel are really the failing schools.
Priory Witham Academy was established in 2008 and its 2011 KS 2 results put it in the bottom 1% of all schools in the country (and in the bottom 200) with only 11% of its higher level pupils making the expected progress between KS1 and KS2 in English, despite having only 2% EAL students. Within its own local authority it was second from bottom in terms of its KS2 results. In 2011, 29% of pupils achieved level 4+, down from 55% in 2010. This compares with an estimated 40% achieved by the predecessor school.
Another academy which has failed to live up to its predecessor is Oasis Shirley Park. The last recorded results for the primary school it replaced show that 70% of pupils achieved KS2 at Level 4+. This compares with the 39% achieved in 2011 by Oasis Shirley Park, placing it in the bottom 200 on rank ordering and in the bottom 2% of all primaries.
One academy records the same percentage of pupils achieving KS2 Level 4+ results as Downhills, one of the threatened primaries. However, when the results are further analysed it is very clear that St Matthews Academy has a much less challenging intake, with far lower levels of EAL pupils and those on free school meals. At each level, pupils at Downhills make better progress that those at St Matthews.
Swindon Academy recorded the lowest KS2 results in its the local authority, with 52% getting level 4+ in 2011, down from 59% in 2010.
Overall, only 3 of the primary academies achieved better than the national average KS2 results in 2011. One was previously a church school, one a primary attached to a former grammar school and one has only slightly higher results than the predecessor school.
What is very surprising is that a converter academy, Westlands Primary in Kent, had achieved lower results than Nightingale Primary and yet was deemed good enough to opt for academy status!
The independence of Ofsted must also be called into question. All 4 of the Haringey schools have been inspected within the last 5 months and, coincidentally and despite the KS2 results, have been put into special measures, giving Michael Gove justification for his actions. Whereas Priory Witham was last inspected in 2010 and Oasis Shirley Park have only just had a full inspection.