Academy chains perform below average for GCSE progress, new figures show

Posted on: 2019-01-24 09:00:00

Academy chains in England are being outperformed on the government’s headline measure for judging GCSE outcomes, new data reveals.  

Multi-academy trusts scored lower on average for Progress 8 – the government’s accountability measure for secondary schools – than all state schools in England in 2018, according to the figures.

A third of multi-academy trusts were below the national average and 7 per cent were “well below” the national average, the Department for Education statistics show.

Progress 8 focuses on the results of a pupil’s best eight GCSE results, including English and maths, and it assesses how much progress they have made made since primary school.

The national Progress 8 score for academy trusts was -0.04, compared to 0.01 for all state schools.

The data, which only covers trusts with at least three schools, reveals that in six academy chains – including the controversial Wakefield City Academies Trust – pupils on average got around half a GCSE grade worse than they could have done.

However, three academy trusts achieved “well above” average Progress 8 scores for 2018, with Tauheedul Education Trust scoring 1.42 - which means pupils on average got more than an entire GCSE grade better than expected. 

The figures, which have been published with the secondary school league tables, also reveal that nearly one in nine secondary schools in England are below the government’s required standard.

Some 346 schools, or 11.6 per cent, were below the government’s floor standard of -0.5 in Progress 8 in last summer’s GCSEs – which is a drop on last year when it was 365 schools.

The overall attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has also widened by 0.6 per cent, the data shows. 

The league tables allow parents and pupils to compare their local seconday schools’ results.

But researchers have warned that they “punish” schools by ignoring pupils’ backgrounds.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Performance tables can never tell the full story of a school and we urge parents and governors not to place too much weight on them.

Meanwhile, the number of students taking up languages at GCSE continues to decline – with a fall of 1.3 percentage points on last year.

“The secondary school performance tables are inherently flawed in that the headline measure of Progress 8 which is used to judge the performance of schools effectively penalises schools which have a high proportion of disadvantaged children.”

The government highligthed data showing that converter academies perform well above the national average and disadvantaged pupils in academy chains make more progress than the national average.

Nick Gibb, school standards minister, said: “Making sure that all pupils, regardless of their background, are able to fulfil their potential is one of this government’s key priorities and these results show that more pupils across the country are doing just that.

“It’s been clear for some time that standards are rising in our schools and today’s data underlines the role academies and free schools are playing in that improvement, with progress above the national average and impressive outcomes for disadvantaged pupils.”

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