Analysis by PWC finds that the majority of academy trusts continue to underperform. At the same time, between 2014 and 2015, there has been significant improvement in the local authorities with previously low value added.
Last year, based on 2014 GCSE results, the Department for Education revealed data showing that only 3 of the top 20 academy trusts were above average in terms of value added.
This year, based on 2015 GCSE results, PWC has confirmed the same pattern. Of the 16 academy trusts in the PWC analysis, again only 3 are above average for value added. This was covered by The Times under the headline "huge gulf in academy standards revealed".
Harris and ARK were the only trusts to have above average value added in both years, though both saw their figures fall from 2014 to 2015:
|Schools||Yr 11 pupils||2015 VA|
Top Local Authorities
PWC did not analyse local authority results, so the table below is based on our analysis. To mirror the DfE report of the 2014 results, this table includes only local authorities that still have at least 5 maintained schools and only the results for those schools. It does not include any academies in those areas.
|Schools||Yr 11 pupils||2015 VA|
Note: Bromley, Harrow, Hounslow, Southwark, Thurrock, Westminster also have average value added above 1023 (the figure for the best performing MAT) but are not included as they have less than 5 maintained schools.
Although local authorities are no longer responsible for the 503 (presumably "underperforming") schools that have become sponsored academies, they have lost over twice as many (presumably "overperforming") schools to become converter academies, 1,272 in total.
Worst Performers: Multi-academy trusts
The local authority with the lowest average value added is Oldham with a score of 974 (just over 4 GCSE grades below the average). However there are four MATs with figures below this, one quarter of the trusts in the study. SPTA is the lowest at 955 (7.5 GCSE grades below the average).
Indeed the data shows a significant improvement in local authority performance at the lowee end. The 2014 GCSE data showed seven local authorities with value added figures below that Oldham figure. Four of those LAs still had five or more schools in 2015 and had increased their scores. In two LAs this was with the same schools as before, in two cases they had one school less.
So we have just 3 of 16 trusts performing above average. These constitute just 16%, or less than one in six, of the schools included in the survey. In contrast, of the 94 local authorities that still have five or more maintained secondary schools, 42 have value added above 1000. This represents 45% of the total.
There are no local authorities in this group that had a value added score below 974, but one quarter of the multi-academy trusts included have a value added score below that figure.
Many education researchers found that the DfE analysis last year provided an informative insight into the relative performance of local authorities and MATs. So I submitted an FoI request to ask if they had discussed updating it for the 2015 results.
The DfE response revealed that such discussions had been held but they were not prepared to reveal details. The key reason given was that "it relates to the formulation and development of government policy."
I am puzzled by this response. Are they saying that it is a matter of government policy to decide which data to publish, perhaps meaning only data that supports their arguments?
It is though not surpising that the DfE has not repeated the publication of comparisons between local authorities and multi-academy trusts. The PWC study makes clear that, while a small number of MATs perform well overall, academy trusts perform far worse than local authorities. And fully one in four trusts have value added results below any local authority in England, and clearly require serious attention.
The figures for MATs are taken directly from the PWC analysis. Local authority figures have been calculated from the DfE school-by-school data on 2015 GCSE results, released in January 2016. The calculation is not based on the average school figure for each LA but is weighted according to size of school to give the average pupil figure across the borough. (This is the method used by PWC in their analysis.)
The DfE data can be found here.
To allow for results that could be due to performance before becoming part of the trust, PWC "take account of how long a school has been an Academy with that Trust".
Value added figures are based around an average national figure of 1000, representing the change from a pupil's Key Stage 2 SATs results at age 11 to their GCSE results at age 16. If a pupil achieves above the level expected from their SAT grades, their value added figure will be above 1000. If they achieve below that expectation, their value added figure will be below 1000.
Each 6 pts represents one GCSE grade. Therefore a pupil if a pupil achieved BBBBBBBB in a school with a value added of 1000 then, on average, a pupil with the same SATs results would have acheived ABBBBBBB in a school with a value added of 1006. For a school with a value added of 1024, those grades would, on average, be AAAABBBB (or A*A*BBBBBB or any similar combination).