Academy claims are rejected as ‘disingenuous DfE spin’


Teachers’ leaders this week rejected the findings of a government report into academies as “misleading” and “disingenuous spin”.

The study claims that converter academies are improving at a faster rate than schools which remain under local authority control.

More than two-thirds of the 3,613 academies in England are schools which have converted since 2010, and these schools were more likely to have gone from “good” to “outstanding” following inspections, the report from the Department for Education (DfE) found.

However, teaching unions have pointed out that as converter academies consisted in the main of good and outstanding schools then the results are not surprising.

The DfE analysis examined inspection outcomes in 2012/13 in wake of the rapid expansion of academy schools, now England’s most common form of secondary school (56 per cent of secondary schools are now academies).

The study did not include “sponsored” academies, or schools which were forced to become academies. Many of the schools covered by the report would have already been higher attaining schools before changing status.

The study showed that converter academies were more likely to have improved their grades and were less likely to have moved downwards than local authority schools.

GCSE results revealed that 70 per cent of converter academies achieved the benchmark of five or more A* to C grades including English and maths, compared with 59 per cent of maintained schools.

Education secretary Michael Gove said: “This report shows that academies are doing much better than local authority schools.  Academy status lets teachers get on with the job, free from bureaucratic interference. Our reforms are raising standards and giving more parents the choice of a great local state school.”

But Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “This report tells us nothing about the impact of this government’s academies programme. This is another case of the government trying to mislead people by misusing statistics.  

“Creaming-off as academies schools which are already good or outstanding left the schools which are struggling with the local authorities. These are the schools which need most support, but the government has left local authorities with less money to provide that support. The government should stop pretending that changing the status of schools improves them.”

She added that 28 per cent of converters had gone from “good” to “requiring improvement” or “inadequate”.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “This is another piece of disingenuous Department spin.

“Converter academies consist in the main of schools that were rated outstanding by Ofsted when they were under local authority control, which the secretary of state then gave permission to convert. Therefore it is not surprising that they have continued to get good results.”

A Labour spokesman said: “It is not the legal status of a school that matters most – it’s the quality of the teaching in the classroom. David Cameron has watered down teaching standards by allowing unqualified teachers into classrooms on a permanent basis. The Tory-led government is neglecting teacher quality for all schools, which is damaging standards across the country as a whole.”


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