Free schools and academies underperforming in Sats, shows figures

As reported by The Guardian, maintained schools in England outperform academies and free schools in national exams taken at the end of year 6, and pupils in multi-academy trusts do worse on average, figures show

The DfE report found that 64% of pupils at MATs reached the government’s benchmark standards in reading, writing and maths, compared with 66% nationally. Pupils’ progress in reading was below the national average in 29% of Mats and above the national average in 20%.

The data covered 297 trusts governing at least three schools for three years, with each school’s data weighted according to the length of time they had been governed by a trust and their pupil numbers. The report said the data “should not be used to infer performance of the MAT system as a whole”, with only 42% of primary academies being part of an eligible trust.

The proportion of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds was higher in MATs than the national average, 36% to 30%, and the gap between the performance of disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils was smaller in MATs than in maintained schools.

Other DfE figures show that among pupils taking key stage 2 standardised tests in maths and English, known as Sats, this summer, those in maintained schools on average performed better than those in academies and free schools.

Sixty-six per cent of pupils in local authority-maintained schools reached the government’s expected standards in both maths and reading, and 65% did so in academies and free schools. In sponsored academies – typically schools forced into academy status as a result of historically poor performance – 58% of pupils reached the required national standards.

Free schools – the government’s flagship means of opening new schools – also compared poorly with maintained schools, with 62% of pupils reaching the expected standards. In maths alone, 77% of free school pupils reached the expected standard, compared with 80% in maintained primaries.

The gap between pupils whose first language is or is not English has almost disappeared, the figures show, and black pupils appear to have caught up with white pupils in terms of attainment in reading and maths.

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