Supporters of the academies programme claim that the academies programme has improved results. However, research by Dr Terry Wrigley and Dr Afroditi Kalambouka, amongst others, challenge this. The report can be read or downloaded here.
See also Henry Stewart's presentation to a meeting in North London. You can view it here
April 2012: 8 Academies given notice to improve
The evidence of the KS2 results in the all through academies does not indicate that converting primaries into academies is just as big a mistake as converting secondaries. 40% had lower KS2 results in 2011 than the primary school they replaced, despite the extra money they received from the Government. See Here and form your own opinion.
The GCSE results for 2011 have now been published. This year, the results are shown in 2 ways:
For some years researchers have suggested that some schools, in particular academies, have boosted their results by the extensive inclusion of vocational qualifications (rated at 4 GCSEs, grade C, but independently assessed at 2 GCSEs grade D). There is initial evidence that this has been shown to be true. In other words, academies have not improved exam results, despite having received booster funding over and above the amount given to local authorities.
The press releases by Ministers and the Department for Education focus only on the Academy successes. When Ministers visit any school it is almost certain to be an academy. This gives the impression that the academy programme is a success. However, behind the headlines lies another story. Even Michael Wilshire, lauded by both Labour and Conservative Governments and now head of Ofsted, has said that the issue of failing academies needs to be addressed.
From the Guardian Letters 29/01/2012:
One recent example: Birkdale High Academy fails Ofsted after conversion from a good, with outstanding features, community school. read more
Until the Academies Act 2010, academies, unlike other state funded schools, were exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. This meant that researchers who were looking in more depth at, for example, GCSE results were unable to be sure of getting the information they needed. There was a small increase in the percentage of students obtaining 5 A*-C at GCSE (higher than other schools) BUT the indications are that this small increase was as a result of:
* higher levels of exclusions (where do those students get dumped?)
* use of "fair" banding to change intake
* greater use of vocational exams, counting for a number of GCSE equivalents but not recognised by universities
* in at least one case, changing the catchment area to exclude a council estate.
One research project concluded that, when similar schools were compared with academies, there was very little difference.
Some initial analysis of the 2011 results can be found here: