Disadvantaged pupils in over half of the academy chains in a recent survey achieved five ‘good’ GCSEs, though researchers raised concern over uneven performance.
Sutton Trust researchers studied academy chains’ GCSE results, the percentage of their pupils taking the English Baccalaureate and how much academies had improved pupils’ performance.
Some of the biggest academy chains achieved significantly better results than average for the sector, though just seven academy chains it surveyed outperformed state schools in the Baccalaureate. Over half the chains did better than local authority schools in getting their disadvantaged pupils to achieve five ‘good’ GCSEs, but the researchers expressed concern about uneven performance: “Our analysis shows that there is enormous variation between chains in pupil outcomes for disadvantaged pupils. It is important that they are able to serve all their pupils, in order to ensure sponsor chains do not become ghettos for more disadvantaged pupils.”
The researchers want Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to reconsider Michael Gove’s refusal to let Ofsted inspect academy chains, something that Sir Michael Wilshaw (Chief Inspector of Schools in England and Head of Ofsted) has requested.
A DfE spokesperson said GCSE results in sponsored academies were improving at a faster rate than in local authority schools and that the proportion of pupils taking the English baccalaureate in them doubled last year.
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