So What’s Wrong with Academisation? 10 Myths and Facts to Disprove Them


What’s Wrong with Academies?

The policy of the break up of our Local Education Authorities, pitching schools against one another in an ultra-competitive environment has nothing to do with learning, nothing to do with improving standards, and everything to do with privatisation of our schools and profits for the Academy chains. The result is seriously damaging the education of young people today.

Jeremy Corbyn wants to see Academies returned to Local Education Authorities.

Instead of inter-school competition, he wants to bring all schools “back into the local authority orbit”. He has discussed “rebuilding the family of education” and said he thinks local authorities could oversee and provide supplementary support resources for schools. He also suggested local authorities should be allowed to build new schools again. . “We need to be bolder about all children having an equal chance, proud of the idea of first-rate community comprehensive education and encourage a diverse mix of pupils in all our schools”. Corbyn also wants to set up a National Education Service – which would be modelled similar to the NHS. (Schoolsweek)

LEAs or local consortia should involve professional teachers and educational professionals  as well as parents in decision making. Co-operation rather than competition between schools allows sharing resources, skills and provision of centralised services such as SEN, Education Psychology, provision for sick children and CAMHS.

Labour’s Education minister Lucy Powell has announced at Conference her plans to bring back LEAs. “Schools must work together not compete. Local authorities will be able to ensure sufficient places and fair admissions, and have the ability to intervene in any school that is failing. I want to encourage collaboration in communities of schools and for all schools to work with their local communities to drive up standards.”

Academised schools should be returned to our local community – our family of schools , as Jeremy Corbyn has referred to. The following article  by Henry Stewart has been previously published on Local Schools Network, and is available for download in Word Form here. It is the result of extensive research, and clearly exposes the claims for justification of Academisation as untruths.

Please share widely, as it is important that these myths which the government are circulating in the media are debunked, so that parents , teachers and politicians can act in counteracting these policies, and protect the education of our children.  Schools are there to provide the education all our young people need. We must ensure that is the case.

Academies: Myths & Facts – Henry Stewart, Local Schools Network 

By Henry Stewart

Myth 1: Local authorities are no good at helping schools improve. That’s why “inadequate” schools must be converted to academies.

The facts: Of the 331 primary schools that were rated “Inadequate” at their previous inspection, and did not become academies, only two remained “inadequate” by the time Ofsted called again. On average, this was less than 21 months later.

Of 59 secondary schools that were rated “Inadequate” at their previous inspection, and did not become academies, only four (7%) remained “inadequate” by the time Ofsted called again. On average, this was less than 15 months later.

There is no need for the forced academisation of the Education and Adoption Bill. Local authorities are actually remarkably successful at helping “inadequate” maintained schools to improve.

More at:

Myth 2: Sponsored academies are more likely to improve a school that is “inadequate”

This is the basis of the Education and Adoption Bill. Any school rated “inadequate” (or coasting) is to be issued immediately with an academy order. Both the governing body and the local authority will be legally bound to support the conversion.

a.  Sponsored academies are almost four times as likely to remain “inadequate” if secondary and twelve times as likely if primary. 

School Myth 2.jpeg

  • Of primary schools rated “inadequate”, just 0.6% remained “inadequate” at their next inspection (v 6.8% for sponsored academies)
  • Of secondary schools rated “inadequate”, just 7.6% remained “inadequate” at their next inspection (v 27.1% for sponsored academies)

This comparison is between sponsored academies that were “inadequate” at conversion, and have had one Ofsted inspection since, and all maintained schools.

More at:

b) For secondary sponsored academies that have had two Ofsted inspections since conversion, they are over twice as likely to stay “inadequate” and over twice as likely to become “inadequate” if they currently rated higher.      

2b Liklihood-to-remain-or-become

  • A secondary school is over twice as likely to stay “Inadequate” if it is a sponsored academy (6.8% v 17.6%)
  • If a secondary school is rated “Requires Improvement”, it is over twice as likely to become “Inadequate” if it is a Sponsored Academy (7.7% v 19.6%)
  • If a secondary school is rated “Good”, it is four times as likely to become “Inadequate” if it is a sponsored academy (4.4% v 19.6%)
  • If a secondary school is rated “Outstanding”, it is over twice as likely to become “Inadequate” if it is a sponsored academy (3.3% v 8%)

More at: (Note: primaries not included as too few have had 2 inspections)

Myth 3: Forcing “inadequate” schools to become academies is the best route to less children remaining in “inadequate” schools

In fact, due to the facts above, the reverse is true. If we apply the data on the % that remain “inadequate” we can estimate the difference between all “inadequate” schools being in the maintained sector and them all being sponsored academies:

If all “inadequate” schools were of that type, how many children would remain in “inadequate” schools at the next inspection:

Primary Secondary
Maintained schools 505 14,432
Sponsored academies 6,736 57,348
Difference 6,231 42,916

The effect of sponsored academies and the forced academisation of the Education and Adoption Bill can be estimated: 49,000 extra children will remain in “inadequate” schools.

While the number of primaries that are “inadequate” has stayed constant at 2%, the number of “inadequate” secondaries has gone from 3% to 6%, according to ofsted Data View Or as Ofsted 2014 report put it:

“Children in primary schools have a better chance than ever of attending an effective school. Eighty-two per cent of primary schools are now “good” or “outstanding”, which means that 190,000 more pupils are attending “good” or “outstanding” primary schools than last year. However, the picture is not as positive for secondary schools: only 71% are “good” or “outstanding”, a figure that is no better than last year. Some 170,000 pupils are now in “inadequate” secondary schools compared with 100,000 two years ago.” (Ofsted annual report 2014:, p8)

The difference? The vast majority of primary schools are still maintained, while the majority of secondaries are now academies.

More at:

Myth 4: Academies are responsible for 1 million more children being in “good” or “outstanding” schools

Nick Gibb: “there are 1,100 sponsored academies that started life as under-performing schools, which is a colossal achievement that has led directly to over 1 million [more] children being taught in “good” or “outstanding” schools.” (11/9/15)

The facts: There are over one million more children in schools rated “good” or “outstanding” but the majority (78%) of these are in primary schools, where there are few academies.

In total there are 69,000 pupils in sponsored academies that are rated “Good” or “Outstanding”, representing just 7% of the extra primary pupils that are in such schools. So 93%

More at:

Myth 5: Sponsored secondary academies improve their GCSE results faster than non-academies

Government ministers frequently make claims that sponsored academies increase their GCSE results at a faster rate than other schools. However the comparison is always between sponsored academies and all maintained schools. As schools increase faster when they start from a lower base, and sponsored academies generally start from a lower base, they will always increase their results faster than all other schools.

The key question is whether a specific school will improve its GCSE results faster if it is a sponsored academy or a maintained school.

To find this out, we must compare sponsored academies to similar maintained schools. The graph below groups schools by their 2011 GCSE results and then compares the change in GCSE results over the three years to 2014.

In each band (20% to 40%, 40% to 60% and over 60%), maintained schools increase their GCSE results faster – or saw them fall less – than sponsored academies.

mtyth 5Sp-academies-2011-2014.jpeg

LSN’s comparisons of 2011, 2012 and 2013 GCSE data generally showed that sponsored academies improved their results no faster than maintained schools but did not show them performing worse. This changed in 2014 with the removal of most GCSE equivalents from the results, which sponsored academies relied heavily on.

Without those equivalents, it seems that sponsored academy secondaries perform, on average, clearly worse than similar maintained schools.

More at:

Myth 6: Sponsored primary academies improve their KS2 results faster than non-academies

The same is true when the performance of sponsored primaries is compared to similar maintained schools. In this case I adopted a new approach (which I will use for secondaries this year) of grouping the schools into five equal sets, or quintiles, according to their 2012 KS2 results. (ie, each of the five sets has the same number of sponsored academies.)

In four of these quintiles the sponsored academies improved their results at a slower rate. Only in the already highest performing set did the sponsored academies perform better.

Note that the same pattern as for secondaries is clear, that the fastest improvement is in the groups of schools that previously had the lowest results. Far more of the maintained schools are in the higher sets and so, if sponsored academies are compared to all schools and not to similar schools, they will appear to improve faster.

myth 6

There have only been results for the last two years for most sponsored primary academies. The initial indication is that the smaller increase is a 1st year effect, probably due to the distraction of becoming an academy. Beyond the 1st year, the two types of schools appear to increase at similar rates.

More at:

Myth 7: Academy chains are generally high performing and a route to success

A Department for Education report published in Spring 2015 compared the value added in the largest 20 academy chains with that of 100 local authorities.

  • Of the 20 chains, only 3 had a value added that was above the national average of 1000.

  • Even the two best performing chains (ARK and Harris) were outperformed by 8 local authorities.

  • ON the combined list of 120 LAs and academy chains, there are just 3 chains in the top 50 but 15 chains in the bottom 50.

While the government, and their supporters, like to talk of “high performing chains” there are only actually two academy chains that fit that description. The vast majority are producing results that are below average, by the DfE’s own analysis.

More at:

Myth 8: Sponsored academies are particularly successful at helping disadvantaged students

The Sutton Trust report Chains Effects 2015 makes clear that there are serious problems with many of the academy chains: “far from providing a solution to disadvantage, a few chains may be exacerbating it”. – See more at:

The conclusions are stark: While there are some chains demonstrating “impressive outcomes”, “a larger group of low-performing chains are achieving results that are not improving and may be harming the prospects of their disadvantaged students”.

More at:

Myth 9: Sponsored academies lead to more pupils taking traditional subjects, like languages and humanities.

Students in sponsored academies are far less likely to achieve a history or geography GCSE. The graph below compares all sponsored academies to all maintained schools. But the same is true when comparing “underperforming” sponsored academies to similar maintained schools (both having 2012 GCSE benchmarks between 20% and 40%) or comparing those with the most disadvantaged intakes (only those with 40% or more on free school meals).

The same is true for languages. Students are less likely to take a language GCSE if they are in a sponsored academy – both overall, and when compared to similar schools.

It is not the case that students in lower achieving schools, that become academies, are being transformed by new opportunities to take core academic subjects. Students in these academies are significantly less likely to get a C or better in a language or a humanity GCSE.

More at: (analysis was in 2014 on 2013 GCSE results)

Myth 10: Independent research supports government claims for academy performance

You know that somebody is losing the argument when they fall back on the work done by Stephen Machin and colleagues at LSE. The most recent data used by Machin was for 2008, and so the analysis only reflects the performance of the early Labour academies. Machin himself has made clear that it is “hard to justify” the use of his research by the government for its very different academies. Indeed he called it a “step too far”.

In contrast independent bodies have generally disputed any claims of better academy performance:

  • The Sutton Trust (above) warned that low performing chains may be harming the performance of disadvantaged students.
  • The Conservative-chaired Education Select Committee report on Academies and Free Schools found no evidence of better academy performance. It stated “Academisation is not always successful nor is it the only proven alternative for a struggling school“ and added that “the Government should stop exaggerating the success of academies”. More at
  • NFER in 2014 concluded: “no significant improvement is seen in the rate of improvement of GCSE results for academy schools over and above the rate of improvement in all schools”.


None of the claims of government ministers for the better performance of sponsored academies stand up to scrutiny. In contrast what the data tends to reveal is that maintained schools are actually performing very well.

There is no basis or justification in the data for the forced academisation of the Education and Adoption Bill.

The key amendment is the one put by Labour at the committee reading, that only academy chains with a successful track record should be allowed to take on new “inadequate” or “coasting” schools. It should be hard to argue that struggling schools should only be taken over by those chains that are successful. But the Bill, because of the large number of schools set to be converted, means that many will be taken over by unsuccessful or overstretched chains.


Click through the links for details of the data that the analysis is based on, including where to download it.

Note 1: Local Schools Network has been publishing this analysis since January 2012. While the DfE has sometimes sought to use different interpretations, or data from different periods (often not in the public domain), it has never challenged any of the numerical analysis we have published.

Note 2: All of this data relates to sponsored academies. These were generally previously “underperforming” schools that were converted to academies with a sponsor. Converter academies are schools that were generally “Good” or “Outstanding” and chose to convert to become academies. The focus here is on sponsored academies is because that is the focus of the Education Bill. The key question addressed in this paper is whether a struggling school will improve more if it remains in the maintained sector or of it becomes an academy.

Contact Details Henry Stewart can be contacted on,or on Twitter:  @happyhenry 

References and Further Reading:

Nottingham meets the Modern Robin Hood, Jeremy Corbyn


Jeremy Corbyn has met tremendous support for people all around England, Scotland and Wales. This has not been seen in the Labour movement for generations.

Take a LOOK at the queues waiting to listen to Jeremy Corbyn speak in Nottingham, home to the original Robin Hood.

This has been nothing short of astonishing. LISTEN to the event here, in high quality audio.

Unite the Union hosted the rally  in Nottingham and  present these Speakers:

Jeremy Corbyn MP
Richard Murphy, Tax Research UK and Economics Advisor to Jeremy’s campaign
Manuel Cortes, General Secretary TSSA Union
Annmarie Kilcline, East Midlands Unite
Tony Kearns, CWU
Nadia Whittome and Umaar Kazmi, young Labour members
Chaired by Cheryl Butler, Leader of Ashfield District Council

From this NG Digital site you can listen to the excellent quality audio of this  event, or download the file on ITunes

Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for the Labour leadership has electrified the contest and brought new ideas to a stale political system. He is Labour’s best chance of defeating the Tories at the next election and bringing back voters lost to the SNP, the Green Party and UKIP.

We should all share Jeremy Corbyn’s Vision for Education


We should all share Jeremy Corbyn’s Vision for Education

By Naomi Fearon, previously Published here on Labour Futures

Recently we have seen Jeremy Corbyn announce his proposal for a National Education Service. This proposal is based around what Jeremy sees as the fundamental and underlying principle of education which is, “A collective good that empowers society and the economy”. It is worth noting that our education system has undergone some changes these last few years, most of which have included cuts, further privatisation through academies and free schools, more curriculum alterations and a continued rise in tuition fees. It is clear that Jeremy genuinely values education and the profession, stating in a written address to The Socialist Educational Association (SEA), Labour’s only educational affiliate, that, “In a fast changing world where new technology is making new jobs and breaking old ones, and information of every kind is instantly available, we need an education system that opens minds and imagination”. In this address he also referred to teachers as “dedicated” and was scathing of the fact that teaching by some, has not been valued as a specialist skill. With such clear passion and vision for education, it is not hard to see why Jeremy has won the supporting nomination from The SEA.

Through the National Educational Service proposal, Jeremy outlines his belief that like our NHS, the education system should be ‘from cradle to grave’. Further education has taken quite a battering over the last few years with the adult skills budget being slashed by 40% since 2010. The Association of Colleges (AoC) has predicted that if the spending cuts continue at their present rate the actual budget outside of apprenticeships will be reduced to zero by 2020 with no public funding remaining for any courses outside higher education and the student loan scheme. In his National Education Service proposal, Jeremy has stated that he would reverse the cuts and would look to significantly expand the adult education service. This would be funded by a 2% rise in corporation tax and would enable anyone of any age regardless of their background or circumstances to retrain or learn something new, opening up a wide range of opportunities.

At the opposite end of the education spectrum, Jeremy is keen to ensure that all children have equal opportunity to pre-school education. A report in 2014 by The Family and Childcare Trust showed that many parents in Britain are paying more for childcare annually than the average mortgage bill. The trust says childcare in England, Wales and Scotland is becoming increasingly unaffordable with a 27% rise in costs since 2009, while wages have remained static. Rightly dismissing what he calls the false dichotomy between early years and adult education, Jeremy argues for free universal childcare recognising that the current system is patchy and rather costly to say the least stating that, “Some families who are very poor can get a place, those who are well off can pay and everyone in between has to make their own arrangements”.

Recognising that education is a right and should not be a privilege, Jeremy has called for the abolition of tuition fees and the restoration of maintenance grants. He has proposed that free university should be funded through a higher rate of national insurance on the highest earners and by bringing Britain’s paltry rate of corporation tax up from 20% to 20.5%. Both the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts and the Labour Campaign for Free Education are supporting Jeremy for leader and unsurprisingly he is proving popular with university students, many of whom are turning up to see him at rallies. Tuition fees have been a widely contested issue since their introduction in 1998 under New Labour, with continuous demos from students calling for their removal. The abolition would be a welcomed policy by many and ensure that anyone entering Higher Education would not be saddled with a large burden of debt once they left.

Hot on the heels of tackling one controversial issue, Jeremy has been unafraid to take on another; academies and free schools. Academies since their introduction in 2000 have again, like tuition fees, been a widely contested issue. Whilst a few individual academies and free schools may do well, overall the programme has been a failure. In January of this year, the House of Commons Education Committee concluded that

“It is too early to judge whether academies raise standards overall or for disadvantaged children” also stating that “Academisation is not always successful nor is it the only proven alternative for a struggling school”.

Ofsted’s 2014 annual report stated that

“It is too early to judge the overall performance of free schools”.

These findings, along with continual financial scandals and the closures of some free schools has continued to paint a rather grim picture for the already unpopular programme. Jeremy voted against the introduction of both types and schools and has called for them to be taken back under local authority control. As Jeremy puts it “Why was it believed the ability to run a business, to sell cars or carpets might make you best-placed to run a school?” Recognising that schools should be accountable to parents and communities and not private market interests and board rooms, Jeremy would seek to rebuild our much fragmented school system.

Amongst Jeremy’s education proposals, it is important not to forget that Jeremy clearly values teachers. Any key element of a successful working partnership should be trust, co-operation and communication clearly something both Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan have failed to comprehend. It is no secret that the relationship between the teaching profession and the government has been anything but harmonious with previous education secretary Michael Gove referring to the profession as ‘enemies of promise’ and a ‘Marxist blob’. With relations showing little signs of thawing, any incoming Labour leader would need to defend our much maligned teachers against such attacks. Government figures from last year show that teachers are working up to 60 hours a week with many leaving the profession altogether. Jeremy recognises that the profession has been highly demoralised stating,

“Let’s thank and value teachers, and try to reduce the stress levels. I talk to a lot of teachers and so many say, ‘I would love to recommend teaching as a career but I don’t want anyone to do what I have had to do. The pressure is too great.’ That should not be so.”

Jeremy is right to address this issue as in order to have a world class education system we need to ensure that teaching is an attractive profession, not one full of over-worked and over-stressed teachers – many of whom are leaving in their droves.

It is clear that Jeremy knows that education should be lifelong and based around creativity, democracy, co-operation and equal opportunity – this is a vision we should all share.

A First Class Education is a Right, not a Privilege


While the Conservatives pursue a policy of Academisation, which is privatisation through the back door, and which has been proven to be failing and while politicians discuss polcies which continue fifty years of disappointments, it is refreshing to hear at least, that Jeremy Corbyn has plans for a National Education Service, which should have been introduced in 1945. While there is a privileged system, while it is a matter of the school you went to which determines your path in life, rather than your skills, there is something rotten.

This post from CJ Stone shows how important it is that everyone has the opportunity for a first class education. It shows that policies touch people’s lives.

By CJ Stone, Previously Published here

A First Class Education is a Right, not a Privilege

I was sad the hear of the closure of the Chaucer Technology School earlier this year as my son was a pupil there.

When Joe failed his Kent Test he was very depressed. We chose the Chaucer as the only school looking anything like a comprehensive in the area at the time. In order to get into the school he had to do another test; which he passed, with flying colours.

This cheered him up no end.

Joe went on to get three A levels and a First Class Honours degree. He now works in the photography industry as a freelance technician and is much in demand for his skills and his practical intelligence.

The Kent Test would have condemned him as a failure at the age of eleven. It was the Chaucer which gave him the confidence to discover where his real intelligence lay.

I’m puzzled at how the Chaucer ended up failing as a school. When my son went there, in the nineties, it was a first class institution.

My own schooling was undertaken at Sheldon Heath Comprehensive School in Birmingham. It was the first specially built comprehensive in the country and the largest.

That too, like the Chaucer, went through emergency measures recently. It closed and was re-opened as the King Edward IV Sheldon Heath Academy in 2010.

And yet the school that I went to was anything but a failure. It was a flagship school of the newly devised comprehensive system and served me and my contemporaries very well. A number of my friends went on to get degrees and to forge successful careers.

The only explanation I can think of is that successive governments have messed around so much with the education system, pulling it first one way, and then the other, that they have undermined the very foundations of education in this country.

The latest news is that the Chaucer is likely to re-open at some point in the future, but as a secondary, rather than a technology school, which sounds like an admission of failure to me.

A first class education is a right, not a privilege,

and should be available to all.