This afternoon, the government published its first combined annual report and accounts for the academy sector in England, covering the year up to 31 August 2016.
Here are some of the things we learned:
- Academies reported a half a billion surplus for 2015-16 – The sector reported an operating surplus of £534 million for the year up to 31 August 2016.
At the end of the year, 2,819 trusts had cumulative surpluses, with a total cumulative surplus of £2.287 billion. But 165 academy trusts finished the year with a cumulative deficit. Their total deficit was £50m, with an average shortfall per trust of £306,000.
- The academy system continues to grow – The number of schools operating as academies increased by 14 per cent between 31 July 2015 and 31 July 2016. At 31 July 2016, 27 per cent of state-funded schools were academies. In the secondary sector, the proportion was much higher, with 66 per cent of schools having academy status.
- Most academies are in a multi-academy trust – There were 3,636 (63 per cent) academies, free schools, studio schools and university technical colleges in a trust with more than one academy, forming 763 MATs. The number of schools in a trust with only one academy was 2,137. The average number of academies in a MAT was five.
- Converters perform better than local authority schools, which perform better than sponsored academies – At key stage 2, the percentage of pupils meeting the expected standard in reading, writing and maths was 57 per cent in converter academies, 54 per cent in local authority maintained schools, and 44 per cent in sponsored academies.
Similarly, at secondary level, 64.4 per cent of pupils in converter academies achieved five or more A*-to-C GCSEs, including English and maths, in 2016. For maintained schools, it was 56.4 per cent and for sponsored schools it was 47.2 per cent.
The report says these differences are not unsurprising. “On the one hand, the results for 2016 showed that attainment in ‘converters’ remains above the national average in both primary and secondary schools,” it says. “This is to be expected, given that only good and outstanding schools can ‘convert’.
"On the other hand, 2016 results for 'sponsored' academies are below the national average. This is also to be expected given that schools are ‘sponsored’ when they are underperforming.”
- Academies were defrauded by almost £1m – According to the report, the value of reported fraud committed against academy trusts was £989,237, with trusts recovering £605,615. At the same time, trusts reported £190,000 of fraud against the Education and Skills Funding Agency, but no money was recovered.