Converting primary schools into academies fails to raise standards, study suggests

Converting primary schools into academies has failed to raise standards, with pupils in primary academies doing no better in Key Stage 2 tests than those at comparable schools, according to a new study from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance used data from the National Pupil Database to examine the test performance of 270 primaries which became academies between September 2010 and April 2012.

The study found that pupils who were enrolled in a school prior to it becoming an academy did no better in their KS2 tests than those sitting the same exams at comparable schools, irrespective of the Ofsted grade of the school before it converted.

It also suggests that although the schools gained extra income upon conversion, little of this additional money was spent on frontline service such as extra teachers or learning resources.

Andrew Eyles, one of the report's authors, said the results ‘cast doubt on whether further
expansion of the academies programme will be beneficial to English education’, commenting that primary schools ‘have been unable to harness their freedoms as effectively as the disadvantaged secondary schools that thrived under the early sponsored academies programme’.

The Department for Education had announced plans earlier in the year to force all schools to convert to academies, but has since backed down on the proposals changing its policy to encourage schools to convert voluntarily.

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