Let's celebrate all fast-improving primary schools

Henry Stewart's picture
Last month the DfE issued a press release headed “primary academies on the rise”. It took an oddly partial look at the primary sector, giving specific examples of 8 schools, all academies, and quoting the Secretary of State as saying "Primary academies give children the best chance of starting secondary school with good literacy and numeracy".

I am sure Michael Gove would like to believe that were true. But the data suggests it has no more basis in reality than some of his other imaginary claims (see here and here for examples). The Local Schools Network evidence, published this week in TES, found the data showed that previously under-performing primaries were far more likely to improve if they did not become academies.

95% of most improved primaries in 2013 were maintained schools

Or, to put it another way, let's take a look at the fastest improving primary schools in 2013. Of primary schools with more than 25 pupils in the Year 6 cohort, 316 saw their SAT benchmark result (the % of pupils getting Level 4 in reading, writing and arithmetic) increase by more than 20%. Fully 19 in 20 of these were maintained schools:

Fastest improving primaries: The top 50

The big increase in results in so many primary schools is great news for those communities. Here are the 50 with the biggest increase from 2012 to 2013. Let's celebrate all these successes and not just the one or two that happen to be academies. ("COM" is the DfE code for a maintained school.)

SchoolTOWNType20122013IncreaseKS2 pupils
Sandringham Primary SchoolDoncasterCOM47%93%46%47
St Chad's RC Primary SchoolManchesterCOM43%89%46%28
Ilminster Avenue E-ACT AcademyBristolSp Acad32%78%46%27
Oakfield Church of England Aided Primary School, RydeRydeCOM42%86%44%30
Springwell Park Community Primary SchoolBootleCOM45%87%42%31
St Denys Primary SchoolSouthamptonCOM44%86%42%29
Westover Primary SchoolPortsmouthCOM28%70%42%44
Felbridge Primary SchoolEast GrinsteadCOM59%100%41%30
Thorn Grove Primary SchoolBishop's StortfordCOM52%93%41%30
Matley Primary SchoolPeterboroughCOM29%68%39%35
Yardley Wood Community Primary SchoolBirminghamCOM50%89%39%26
Southwold Primary SchoolHackneyCOM56%95%39%42
Rosebrook Primary SchoolMansfieldCOM41%79%38%30
Whittlefield Primary SchoolBurnleyCOM41%78%37%27
St Richard's Catholic Primary SchoolDoverCOM48%85%37%28
Oasis Academy New OakBristolConv Acad55%91%36%32
Hawthorn Tree SchoolBostonCOM50%86%36%29
St Mark's Church of England Primary SchoolLondonCOM57%92%35%27
St James' CofE Junior SchoolBarrow-in-FurnessCOM53%88%35%34
Kings Sutton Primary SchoolBanburyCOM52%87%35%30
Strawberry Fields Primary SchoolLeedsCOM47%81%34%44
Greyfriars Primary School, King's LynnKing's LynnCOM45%79%34%41
Holy Family VA RC Primary SchoolSalfordCOM42%76%34%27
St Martha's Catholic Primary School, Kings LynnKing's LynnCOM63%97%34%31
St Thomas More Roman Catholic Primary School, Middleton, RochdaleManchesterCOM52%86%34%44
Holy Spirit Catholic and Church of England Primary SchoolWirralCOM38%72%34%26
St Thomas Cantilupe CofE Primary SchoolHerefordCOM35%69%34%28
Belle Vue Primary SchoolCarlisleCOM58%91%33%53
Lakenham Primary SchoolNorwichCOM35%68%33%29
Hugglescote Community Primary SchoolCoalvilleCOM43%76%33%62
Redcastle Family SchoolThetfordCOM41%74%33%30
Haveley Hey Community SchoolManchesterCOM32%65%33%43
St John's CofE Primary School, ClivigerBurnleyCOM52%85%33%27
Roman Hill Primary SchoolLowestoftCOM52%85%33%56
South Bank Community Primary SchoolMiddlesbroughCOM50%83%33%35
Ramsey Community Junior SchoolHuntingdonCOM40%73%33%44
Hatfeild Primary SchoolMordenCOM58%90%32%53
St Monica's Roman Catholic Primary SchoolLondonCOM50%82%32%28
St Peter's Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School, BrottonSaltburn-by-the-SeaCOM50%82%32%35
Bantock Primary SchoolWolverhamptonCOM37%68%31%27
Temple Hill Community Primary and Nursery SchoolDartfordCOM31%62%31%42
St Joseph's Roman Catholic Primary School, DarwenDarwenCOM26%57%31%27
Marldon Church of England Primary SchoolPaigntonCOM58%88%30%26
Callicroft Primary SchoolBristolCOM48%78%30%31
Kingsthorne Primary SchoolBirminghamCOM42%72%30%30
Easton Church of England Primary SchoolBristolCOM11%41%30%46
Upland Primary SchoolBexleyheathCOM68%98%30%60
Christ Church CofE Primary SchoolLondonCOM66%96%30%29
Cadbury Heath Primary SchoolBristolCOM66%96%30%28
Berinsfield Community Primary SchoolWallingfordCOM39%69%30%32

This is based on schools with a KS2 cohort in 2013 of over 25 pupils. The figure is the % achieving level 4 in reading, writing and arithmetic.

Principle data source: http://bit.ly/KOepvQ.#sthash.iv2lDosI.dpuf (though this was combined with the list of academies, and predecessor schools to ensure full academy coverage).
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Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 11/05/2014 - 08:47

Henry - you're right to draw attention to ALL improving schools. Unfortunately, the DfE focuses only on academies and free schools. Worse, they downgrade community schools and describe them misleadingly as "council-controlled" (which they are not because LAs don't "control" schools).

A recent DfE press release included case studies of primary academies which had improved since becoming academies. But one of the named schools was not an academy - it had abandoned conversion. And three more built on the success achieved in previous schools. I wrote about it here.

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