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In response to a question from Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, Ofsted has replied (18 December) with the data on the latest inspections for schools previously rated Inadequate: PQ HL4539 Lord Hunt.

For “inadequate” schools that become sponsored academies, 12% remain inadequate (1 in 8) compared to just 2% (1 in 50) of those that remain in the local authority maintained sector. 

(‘Inadequate’ is the lowest of Ofsted’s four categories, below ‘Requires Improvement’. It may include judgements of ‘Serious Weaknesses’ and ‘Special Measures’.)

“There is a general assumption, in the Government and the media, that becoming a sponsored academy is the only way to improve a school,“ commented Lord Hunt. “However this data, from Ofsted, suggest the opposite. A school is far more likely to improve its Ofsted status if it remains in the maintained sector.”

Henry Stewart has summed up the data on the Local Schools Network website (from which this report is taken with thanks). For schools rated “inadequate”:

  • Of those that became sponsored academies 12% remained “inadequate” at their next inspection, compared to 2% of maintained schools.
  • 53% of these sponsored academies remained either “inadequate” or “Requires Improvement”, compared to 38% of maintained schools.
  • Of schools that stayed in the local authority maintained sector, 62% become “Good” or “Outstanding” compared to 47% for sponsored academies.

The one area in which sponsored academies do better is that 6% become “Outstanding” compared to 2% of maintained schools. This backs up previous data indicating a small number of academy chains (also known as Multi Academy Trusts) do well, but most underperform compared to the maintained sector.

“This backs up the analysis we have carried out at Local Schools Network on how likely different types of schools are to improve their results”, explains Henry Stewart, co-founder of the Local Schools Network. “For primary schools, if you compare similar schools (by their prior year results) then maintained schools improved their benchmark results by 6.4% more than sponsored academies from 2013 to 2015. This gap is so large that it is statistically significant at the 99% level.

“The data is clear, at primary and secondary level. There can now be no doubt that, on average, conversion to become a sponsored academy slows the improvement of a struggling school.”

This data shows that forcing Birmingham LA schools to become academies will hold back improvement

We do not have data on which or how many Birmingham maintained schools are judged ‘Inadequate’ by Ofsted. (And the situation is complicated because the Ofsted terminology and criteria changed in September.)  However, ‘Special Measures’ is a sub-set of ‘Inadequate’ and we do know that there are 14 Birmingham maintained schools in Special Measures: 6 primary (Manor Park, Highfield J&I, Court Farm, Colmers Farm Junior, Jakeman Nursery, Springfield), 6 secondary (Al-Hijrah, Cockshut Hill, Kingsbury, Holy Trinity, International, Small Heath), and 2 special (Lindsworth, Hallmoor).

The data revealed by Ofsted shows that these schools – together with the others which are judged ‘Inadequate’ but are not in the Special Measures category – are statistically significantly more likely to improve and be judged as no longer ‘Inadequate’ at their next inspection if they remain with the Birmingham local authority than if they are forced to become sponsored academies.

 See Henry Stewart’s report and a link to Wilshaw’s letter at: http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2015/12/ofsted-reveals-that-a-school-is-six-times-as-likely-to-remain-inadequate-if-it-becomes-a-sponsored-academy/#sthash.octx8hYZ.dpuf

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