Dear Editor, The Government repeatedly claims that academies are the solution to low-attaining schools (Birmingham Post February 23).
On that basis it is forcing at least a dozen Birmingham primary schools to become academies, regardless of the wishes of parents, governors and staff. But the latest evidence punctures this claim once and for all.
Take, for example, the Government’s claim that academies are improving their results at twice the national average rate.
But they are not comparing like with like. The non-academies include those previously performing well, and therefore less likely to improve their results as much as those starting from a low baseline.
But if we take all schools in 2010 with under 35 per cent of pupils achieving five GCSEs including English and maths, academies results grew from 29 per cent in 2010 to 37 per cent in 2011, an increase of eight per cent, while non-academies grew from 30 per cent to 38 per cent, again an increase of eight per cent. In other words, academies did no better and no worse than comparable schools.
But we need to take something else into account.
The DfE figures also show that academies have boosted their scores by using vocational-type exams, which count for up to four GCSEs, much more than other schools.
In academies 82.6 per cent of pupils get five or more GCSEs grades A*-C, compared to 81.2 per cent non-academy comprehensive schools. But if we strip out the exams deemed “equivalent” it falls to 39.4 per cent in Academies compared to 54.9 per cent in comprehensive schools.
The evidence doesn’t support the claims for secondary academies, but the government is now using it to force Birmingham primary schools to be taken over by chains of academies run by private organisations with no experience of primary education.
One of them is an American company called Mosaica which runs a chain of for-profit schools in the US and is now bidding to take over primary schools here, even though only 25 per cent of its schools met the US Adequate Yearly Progress standard. Is privatisation for profit Gove’s real agenda?
We know what the real answer is to raising standards because schools in Birmingham are already doing it – not academies but schools working together supporting each other.
It’s time to say no to the government’s failed academy experiment.