Academy Myths & Facts

Henry Stewart's picture
 7
Here is a resource I created for the Haringey Schools Conference today. It is a True or False quiz, together with answers. Very useful if you are trying to persuade that the case for academies is not as strong as the DfE claims. Click below to download the Word document:

Academies True or False

I hope its useful. Here's the statements, and the data (the download includes graphs too, which I will try later to update this post to include):

1) “Academies' GCSE results improved by nearly twice the level seen across all maintained schools in 2011” (DfE): False

This result is only achieved by omitting academies who were previously independent or CTCs. It is the effect of comparing all non-academies with academies who generally had lower results in 2010. If you compare academies with non-academies with similar results, the difference disappears:

If we take all schools with 2010 results under 35% (the current floor target), we find that academies results grew from 29% in 2010 to 37% in 2011, an increase of 8%. That is very impressive and those schools should be congratulated on the improvement. But the comparison group of non-academies grew from 30% in 2010 to 38% in 2011, again a growth of 8%. (There were 58 academies and 161 non academies in this range.)

2) State secondaries with low GCSE results are stuck there and rarely improve: False

The DfE data shows significant improvement in non-academies between 2008 and 2011, especially in the schools with high levels of disadvantaged students.

3) Long established academies get better GCSE results than non academies: False

Overall they do worse. Comparing to schools on similar levels of disadvantage, academies do worse in two of the three bands and only slightly better in the other band:

4) Academies with high levels of disadvantaged students do better than similar non-academies: False

Comparing academies with non-academies in bands, according to level of disadvantage (as measured by % of students on free school meals), finds non-academies out-performing academies in every band.

5) Academies starting from a low base (in terms of GCSE results) improved faster than similar non-academies: False

Taking figures for 2008-2011, comparing long-established academies and non-academies – where results were below 30% in 2008, both grew by 19%:

6) “Academies inflate results with easy qualifications” (Telegraph): True

As the Telegraph reported (3rd Feb 2012), the benchmark GCSE results for non-academies fell by 6% once GCSE equivalents were removed, but by 12% for academies: http://tgr.ph/I2Iyjh

7) Although individual academies have mixed results, the education chains perform strongly: False

Two chains (Ark and Harris) do outperform non-academies on headline results, but all chains are below the average for non-academies, once GCSE equivalents are stripped out.

8) The 2011 GCSE results would cause 80% of academies to be below the new floor levels in 2015: True

In 2011 only 20% of academies would have reached the 2015 floor target of 50% of students getting 5 GCSEs including English and Maths – once the new rules for equivlanets are applied. (DfE data)

9) More academies are outstanding than other state schools: Partly True

Of academies inspected last year, 18% were found to be outstanding, compared to just 15% of schools overall. But it is a carefully selected statistic. If we look at the % getting Good or outstanding, the situation is reversed: 53% of academies achieved it last year, compared to 57% of all state schools inspected that year (Ofsted annual report). Overall 70% of state schools were rated Good or Outstanding in their last inspection. (The figure for last year is lower because Good and Outstanding schools are inspected less often.)

10) Academies exclude twice as many schools as other state secondaries: True

In 2009/10 (the latest year for which figures are available), secondary academies excluded 3.1 students out of every 1,000. The level for secondaries overall was 1.5. More detail here.

11) Funding levels for academies are publicly available for all to see. (Cameron to Education Select Committee): False

The published data on school funding includes all income and expenditure figures for maintained schools. However this data is missing for academies

12) The research on Charter schools in the USA show they out-perform other schools: False

The most thorough piece of research on Charter schools was carried out by


  • 17% of charter schools showed academic gains significantly better than other schools

  • 46% showed no significant difference

  • 37% showed academic gains significantly worse than other schools



Source: Stanford University

13) Mossbourne is an Academy and performs exceptionally well. Therefore all academies will perform exceptionally well: False

Mossbourne’s results are remarkable, but it is false logic to assume this will mean other academies will do as well. While Mossbourne is in the top handful of schools for results (given either level of disadvantaged schools or high levels of prior low attainment), the other schools that perform best are all non-academies.

14) The accounts for the education chains, like all other charities, are made publicly available by the Charities Commission: False

A clause in the recent Education Bill made the education chains exempt charities. This means their accounts are no longer displayed on the Charities Commission web site.

15) “…all those schools that have taken on academy freedoms are engaged in working with or collaborating with other schools to help them to raise standards more broadly.” (Michael Gove): False

Only 3% of converter academies are helping weaker schools

Source, TES

Overall Conclusion:

There is virtually no evidence in the 2011 DfE data of academies performing better than non-academies. There are many measures on which they perform worse. Indeed what the data shows is remarkably strong performance by non-academies, especially those with disadvantaged intakes or previously low GCSE results. The hard work and dedication of the teachers and students in those schools deserves to be recognised and applauded.

 
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Comments

Tim Bidie's picture
Sun, 22/04/2012 - 09:34

Education should be about much more than just exam results.

http://www.silobreaker.com/public-school-to-create-chain-of-happy-academ...

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 22/04/2012 - 10:27

You are correct, Tim, education is more than raw exam grades. Yet it is the measure the Government uses to grade schools to such an extent that it will enforce academy conversion of primary schools deemed to be "under-performing". It is the Government which promotes the idea that the way to judge a school is to look at the numbers achieving benchmarks.

If Government pronouncements using raw grades as "evidence" to support its academy programme are found to be misleading then this misrepresentation should be pointed out. This is what Henry has done - he has applied rigorous analysis to government figures and found them unreliable.

Henry is a passionate advocate of happy organisations which promote well-being (the kind of schools being suggested by the head of Wellington in the article to which you ). Henry's manifesto for happiness can be downloaded here: http://www.happy.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Happy-Manifesto1.pdf

It should be compulsory reading for heads, Ofsted chiefs and Government ministers.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 22/04/2012 - 13:03

Education is and has always been more than just exam grades.

Heads have always been under natural pressures as the seek to balance the competing pressures on them and to be an intelligent semi-permeable membrane between their schools and the outside world. It's always been a very challenging role.

But now they have to choose - do they listen to the external demands or their communities. The two agendas are no longer compatible in our more vulnerable communities.

Where the kids are arriving at school well cared for and in a fit state to learn the main focus can be on examinable education because a great deal of the rest of what kids need is being supplied at home so the two agendas are not so far apart. But in our tougher communities they are miles apart and since the examination demands have been racked up under this government headship is pretty much impossible.

Tim Bidie's picture
Sun, 22/04/2012 - 10:47

Janet,

Thanks. Very interesting.

Some interesting stuff: 'How can we prevent problems like depression or substance abuse or schizophrenia in young people who are genetically vulnerable or who live in worlds that nurture these problems? How can we prevent murderous schoolyard violence in children who have access to weapons, poor parental supervision, and a mean streak? What we have learned over fifty years is that the disease model does not move us closer to the prevention of these serious problems. Indeed, the major strides in prevention have largely come from a perspective focused on systematically building competency not correcting weakness (see Greenberg, Domitrovich, & Bumbarger, 1999, for a review of all documented effective prevention programs in youth).

here, as well. http://www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/posclinpsychchap.htm

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 22/04/2012 - 12:56

"How can we prevent problems like depression or substance abuse or schizophrenia in young people who are genetically vulnerable or who live in worlds that nurture these problems?"
Resource and empower those who are prepared to dedicate their lives to living and working as part of our most challenging communities where we have problems. Resource and empower the natural respected leaders of those communities.

"How can we prevent murderous schoolyard violence in children who have access to weapons, poor parental supervision, and a mean streak?"
Listen to and support the people who are working in the communities with serious problems. Develop and support systems which allow society to respond to the early warning signs of problems.

"Indeed, the major strides in prevention have largely come from a perspective focused on systematically building competency not correcting weakness"
Yes. It's okay to try to correct weakness too but that process must not suffocate the building of competencies.

Rob Shorrock's picture
Tue, 24/04/2012 - 08:33

Thanks. This is useful.

However, you do state the following:

"14) The accounts for the education chains, like all other charities, are made publicly available by the Charities Commission: False

A clause in the recent Education Bill made the education chains exempt charities. This means their accounts are no longer displayed on the Charities Commission web site."

Which is technically the case, but all these accounts are published via the Companies House website. So Academies and Academy Trusts still need to publish accounts.

AJ Piearcey's picture
Wed, 17/07/2013 - 23:08

Charity site: free and pretty easy to search.
Example: Put in St Anns Hospice, couple of spelling tries, done
http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/find-charities/

Companies house: trawl and then please pay
Example: put in Harris, selected likely suspect from list for Harris Bermondsley
£10 for this years pages alone
http://wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk//wcprodorder?ft=1

The accounts are not displayed, they are available for a price. And first you have to know where to look, since the place I'd have looked for a company with charitable status is the Charity Commission.

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