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Academies reports show councils should be ‘education improvement partners’

Multi-academy trusts’ performance has been criticised in two different reports, prompting the LGA to stress that councils should not lose their role in delivering education.

New analysis from the Sutton Trust shows that at eight out of the 39 sponsored academy chains, disadvantaged pupils on the pupil premium demonstrated substantially worse performance and improvement than the national average.

However, seven chains had disadvantaged pupils who performed substantially above the national average.

The Sutton Trust said that the government, national schools commissioner and regional schools commissioners should act urgently to ensure that the worst performing academy chains can learn from the best.

In addition, it said education secretary Nicky Morgan MP should keep a commitment that chains would not be allowed to expand unless they have a track record of success, whilst regional commissioners should improve their criteria for academy sponsorship and make the process more transparent, with involvement from parents.

Newly published data from the Education Policy Institute also shows performance problems for multi-academy trusts.

The trusts made up nine of the 23 worst schools groups at primary level and nine of the 20 worst at secondary level, although 12 of the 30 best primary school groups were also academy trusts.

Cllr Roy Perry, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “These figures, and previously published statistics, clearly demonstrate that councils are education improvement partners, rather than barriers to delivering the high quality education that our children deserve.

“The government should recognise councils’ role in education improvement, and that imposing structural changes on schools does not guarantee improvements in education.”

He also said that although the government has cut £600m from the education services grant, it is making the same amount available to finance academies.

“Rather than spending money on structure changes, the government should urgently address more pressing issues such as the need for more school places and the growing teacher recruitment crisis, to make sure that all schools can provide the best possible education for every child,” he said.

The government was recently forced to back down from plans to make every school in England become an academy, but has included new proposals applying to under-performing schools in the Education for All Bill.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "Our ambition remains for all schools to become academies with more schools joining multi-academy trusts (MATs) - because we know this is an effective way to bring about sustained improvement."

(Image c. Creatas)

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