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LGA - New figures reveal council maintained schools continue to outperform academies

New analysis published yesterday by the Local Government Association (LGA) shows that local authority maintained schools continue to perform more highly in Ofsted inspections than academies.

Council leaders are now calling on the Government to withdraw plans to force all schools to become academies by 2022, and allow schools to choose for themselves the most appropriate ways to improve education for their pupils.

86 per cent of council maintained schools are now rated "good" or "outstanding" by Ofsted, compared to 82 per cent of academies and 79 per cent of free schools.

  • 58 per cent of sponsored academies – those which converted due to poor performance – are now rated as "good" or "outstanding"
  • 88 per cent of converter academies – generally those which were already high performing while still council-maintained before choosing to become academies – are rated as "good" or "outstanding"

Analysis of the grades achieved by all schools under only the current, more rigorous, Ofsted inspection framework – launched in September 2012 – shows that 81 per cent of council-maintained schools are rated as "good" or "outstanding", compared to 73 per cent of academies and 79 per cent of free schools.

Ofsted figures also show that "inadequate" council-maintained schools are more likely to improve if they stay with their local authority, rather than being forced to convert to an academy. 98% of council-maintained schools improved in their first Ofsted inspection after being rated "inadequate" compared to 88% of academies.

Analysis of multi-academy trusts found that a small number were performing highly, delivering strong improvements in their schools. However, these did not cover every region of the country, and reflected the Department for Education's own figures which already show that only 15 per cent of the largest Multi-Academy Trusts perform above the national average on added value measures, compared to 44 per cent of local authorities. Councils have also raised serious concerns about the recruitment of enough high-quality sponsors to take on 15,600 new academies over the next six years.

Councillor Roy Perry, Chairman of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said:

"These figures clearly demonstrate that councils are education improvement partners, rather than barriers to delivering the high quality education that our children deserve. With 86 per cent of council-maintained schools in England rated as ‘good' or ‘outstanding' by Ofsted, the Government needs to recognise councils' role in education improvement, and that imposing structural changes on schools is not the best way to improve education.

"Instead, schools need the freedom to choose, in partnership with parents and councils, whichever structure is most appropriate for them, and more pressing issues such as the need for more school places and the growing teacher recruitment crisis need to be addressed urgently to make sure that all schools can deliver the best possible education for every child. The time has come to reconsider the plans in the Education White Paper, and start a constructive, informed and inclusive debate about the best way to deliver educational excellence everywhere."

Notes for Editors

  1. The research was commissioned by the LGA and carried out by Angel Solutions, the authors of the inspection report database Watchsted. Download the research.
  2. 14,326 (85.4 per cent) of primary schools are council-maintained, 757 (4.5 per cent) sponsored academies, 1590 (9.5 per cent) converter academies and 93 (0.6 per cent) free schools.
    1306 (38.6 per cent) of secondary schools are council-maintained, 531 (15.7 per cent) sponsored academies, 1362 (40.3 per cent) convertor academies and 182 (5.4 per cent) free schools, university technical colleges and studio schools. Statistics about schools and their characteristics are available at www.gov.uk/government/statistics/schools-pupils-and-their-characteristics-january-2015
  3. The largest academy chains are the 20 chains with 5 or more schools with a year 11, as identified by the Department for Education at www.gov.uk/government/statistics/schools-in-academy-chains-and-las-performance-measures (main table, figure 8.1)
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