Academy conversion does not improve primary Sats scores

21st November 2016 at 00:01
Pupils in primary academies do no better in key stage 2 tests than comparable local authority schools, study finds

Converting primary schools into academies does not improve pupils’ scores in key stage 2 tests, a new study has found.

The report shows that pupils in primary academies do no better in key stage 2 Sats than those at comparable local authority schools.

Academics believe the research casts doubts over the government’s belief that turning schools into academies will improve results.

Researchers from the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics looked at the test performance of 270 primaries, which had converted between September 2010 and April 2012.

They compared pupils’ test scores in the academic years 2006/07 to 2013/14 in these schools with a control group of schools that converted in the 2014/15 or 2015/16 academic years.

The results showed pupils enrolled in a school prior to it becoming an academy did no better in their KS2 tests than those sitting the same exams at comparable schools, “irrespective of the Ofsted grade of the school before it converted”.

Researchers found that converting had no impact on performance, despite primaries making changes to their curriculum and their performance management of teachers.

While the majority of secondary schools have become academies, only around a fifth of primary schools have.

Andrew Eyles, one of the authors of the report, said that the government’s drive to convert all schools into academies would “require the conversion of large numbers of primary schools”.

“The results cast doubt on whether further expansion of the academies programme will be beneficial to English education,” Mr Eyles said.

“The evidence suggests primary schools have been unable to harness their freedoms as effectively as the disadvantaged secondary schools that thrived under the early sponsored academies programme.” 

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The academy programme has given good schools the freedom to do what they know works best and helped to turn round underperforming schools that have previously languished under local authority control. Results in primary sponsored academies have been improving and we expect that trend to continue.”

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