ACADEMIES – SEN AND FSM PUPILS-MIXED RECORD

Very similar modest rates of improvement in academies and local authority schools for disadvantaged pupils

Comment

According to the latest Annual Academies report (July),Sponsored academies have higher proportions of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) than the national average for state-funded secondary schools whilst converter academies have rates that are below. In 2013, across all state-funded primary schools, 17.4% of pupils were identified as having a special educational need. In primary sponsored academies the proportion was 23.2% and in primary converter academies it was 16.1%. In 2013, across all state-funded secondary schools, 19.0% of pupils were identified as having a special educational need. In secondary sponsored academies the proportion was 24.3% and in secondary converter academies it was 16.5%

At key stage 4, results for SEN and non-SEN pupils in sponsored academies went up at broadly the same rate (+1.6 for non-SEN pupils and +1.4 for SEN pupils). Results for SEN pupils went up at the same rate as SEN pupils in local authority schools. Results for SEN pupils in converter academies went up at a slightly slower rate than in local authority schools but overall their attainment remained much higher

The proportion of pupils in sponsored academies who are known to be eligible for free school meals (FSM) is considerably higher than the average across all state-funded schools. In January 2013, 26.3% of pupils in secondary sponsored academies were known to be eligible for FSM compared to 15.1% across all state-funded secondary schools. In primary sponsored academies, 36.6% were known to be eligible for free school meals compared to 18.1% across all state-funded primary schools

The Annual report states

• results for FSM pupils in converter academies were above the average for FSM pupils nationally. In converter academies, 43.7% of pupils achieved 5+ A*-C GCSEs including English and mathematics compared to 39.1% in local authority schools;

• results for SEN pupils in converter academies were above the average for SEN pupils in local authority schools. In converter academies, 30.4% of pupils achieved 5+ A*-C GCSEs including English and mathematics compared to 23.4% in local authority schools;

• results for FSM pupils improved at a similar rate in sponsored academies, converter academies and local authority schools. The proportion of FSM pupils that achieved 5+ A*-C GCSEs including English and mathematics improved by 1.6 percentage points in sponsored academies and 1.8 percentage points in converter academies and 1.7 percentage points in local authority schools; and

• results for SEN pupils in sponsored academies improved at a similar rate to SEN pupils in local authority schools (an improvement of 1.4 percentage points in both cases). Results for SEN pupils in converter academies improved, but at a slower rate than in local authority schools.

The Annual report is deficient in the sense that it doesn’t look at Value Added measurements. Ministers should also be concerned about the very modest improvements being made with respect to FSM and SEN pupils. There is very little difference in the performance here between academies and local authority schools . It is after all a major and  worthy  priority of the Coalition to improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and to narrow the achievement gap between disadvantaged and mainstream pupils and academies were expected to significantly speed this process up. What we are learning  though is that  some academies and academy chains are very good indeed. Others not so, and there is too much variability in their overall performance. We also know that  the Pupil Premium, extra funding targeted at FSM pupils , is not always being used to good effect.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/328436/Academies_Annual_Report_2012-13.pdf

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