Nicky Morgan justifies the new Education Bill, and its forced academisation, on the basis that no child should remain in an "inadequate" school a day longer than is necessary. The Bill requires the Education Secretary to issue an Academy order for any maintained school that is rated Inadequate by Ofsted.
However an analysis of Ofsted school ratings indicates that secondary schools are more likely to stay inadequate, and also more likely to become inadequate (if they currently have a higher rating) if they are sponsored academies. The way to ensure as few children as possible experience "inadequate" schools appears to be, according to Ofsted's data, for them to remain with the local authority.
A secondary school is twice as likely to stay Inadequate if it is a sponsored academy
After Morgan's statement a Labour researcher contacted me to ask what the evidence was on the effect of academy status on Ofsted ratings. I hadn't done that analysis and so set about searching for the data. Ofsted does not publish data linking inspections before and after conversion, so the analysis had to be based on sponsored academies which have had two inspections since conversion. The analysis is based on 211 secondary schools that are sponsored academies.
Of the 34 sponsored academies previously rated Inadequate, 18% remained Inadequate in their latest Ofsted inspection. Only 6% rose to Good. Of the 56 maintained schools in this category, just 9% remained inadequate and 27% became Good.
If a secondary school is rated Requires Improvement, it is over twice as likely to become Inadequate if it is a Sponsored Academy
Of 110 sponsored academies previously rated Requited Improvement, 20% fell back to Inadequate in their latest Ofsted inspection. 44% rose to Good or Outstanding. Of the 530 maintained schools in this category, just 8% became Inadequate. 60% rose to Good or Outstanding.
If a secondary school is rated Good, it is almost four times as likely to become Inadequate if it is a sponsored academy
Of 43 sponsored academies previously rated Good, 19% fell back to Inadequate. 56% stayed Good and 5% rose to Outstanding. For the 483 maintained schools in this category, only 5% became Inadequate. 54% stayed Good and 16% rose to Outstanding.
This may be a reflection that the Sponsored Academies were, at some point in the recent past, weak (as this would be the reason for becoming a sponsored academy). However that does realise questions about the robustness of any improvement
If a secondary school is rated Outstanding, it is almost three times as likely to become Inadequate if it is a sponsored academy
Of 24 sponsored academies previously rated Outstanding, 8% fell to Inadequate. Of the 148 maintained schools that were previously Outstanding, just 3% fell in Inadequate.
Ideology or Evidence?
Converter academies, schools that were already Good or Outstanding, do not appear to have the same problem. The higher likelihood to stay or become inadequate is specific to sponsored academies. However this is the academy model that is being proposed for "inadequate" or "coasting" schools under the Education Bill.
The evidence seems to indicate that, in terms of Ofsted rating, a school is more likely to improve and less likely to stay or become inadequate if it is not a sponsored academy. This may be because most sponsored academies are part of academy chains, whose problems are clear from DfE data
. With only 4 of the 20 biggest chains showing above average results, in terms of value added, the solution of giving an "underperforming" school to a chain needs to be closely examined.
The Bill now goes to the Education Select Committee. Let's hope that they choose to base their view on the evidence and not on ideology.
This analysis is based on Ofsted's spread-sheet of the current and previous Ofsted ratings
for every school in the country. Ofsted does not include ratings from a previous status and so this information relates solely to sponsored academies which have had two Ofsted inspections since conversion. The data is the result of a very simple analysis, that anybody who understands pivot tables can do in under 10 minutes. (Though I couldn't create a pivot table from the initial spread-sheet, and had to copy it into a new spreadsheet to carry out the analysis.)
This analysis is based entirely on secondary schools. This is because only two primary sponsored academies are listed as having had two inspections since conversion.
I have submitted Freedom of Information requests, to DfE and Ofsted, asking for details of the ratings for academies before conversion. I will post these results if they are made available.