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Where schools are underperforming, decisive action is needed to raise standards and ensure that the children in these schools are able to achieve their full potential.
The results in sponsored academies have been improving at nearly twice the rate of other state-funded schools. Becoming an academy has therefore been shown to be one of the most effective and sustainable ways of raising standards. Based on the 2011 Key Stage 4 results in the 166 sponsored academies with results in both 2010 and 2011 (excludes ex-City Technology Colleges and ex-independent schools), the percentage of pupils who achieved 5+ A*-C GCSEs, including English and mathematics, increased by 5.7 percentage points. This compares to 3.1 percentage points in all state-funded schools.
It is too early to show the improvement rate in sponsored primary academies but we expect to see the sustainable improvements that we have seen in sponsored secondary academies. The results of the Key Stage 2 tests taken by 11-year-olds in primary schools are published each August.
In the vast majority of cases, schools have agreed to become academies and benefit from the support that a strong sponsor can provide. Where necessary, the Secretary of State has powers to intervene to help ensure a sustainable improvement in standards.
Academy status has made a big difference in transforming under performing secondary schools, giving them the freedom to innovate by creating the right conditions for success. This is a tried and tested model. There is a large body of evidence, both from pupil performance and independent reports that shows the academy model does work and this is why the academy programme has been extended to primary schools. The sponsored primary academy model is flexible and designed to accommodate the needs of each individual school.
A Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report last year found that academies have achieved rapid academic improvements and raised aspirations in some of the most challenging schools in the most deprived areas of the country.
A study by the London School of Economics found that not only had standards in academies improved faster than in other schools, but also that schools in their locality had seen results improve.
The following case study is one example of the positive impact that a sponsor has been able to have on their primary academies.
1 An average of 68 per cent of pupils reached level 2a across their subjects, compared with 44 per cent of pupils in primary schools nationally.
Primary schools of all sizes have successfully become academies – from those with less than 40 pupils to those with more than 800. Some are operating as stand-alone academies, whilst others are working collaboratively with both primary and secondary partners to maximize their resources and share expertise.
Through collaboration with other schools, whether through a new formal partnership or by joining an existing academy trust, small primaries can build arrangements that work best for them. Schools of all shapes and sizes can join together, in a variety of different ways, to share resources and, in partnership, bring about an improvement in standards.
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