Schools which remain with their council are more likely to keep a good or outstanding Ofsted rating than those which become an academy, a new report by the Local Government Association reveals today.

The report, published by Angel Solutions and commissioned by the LGA, looks at how primary and secondary schools’ Ofsted grades have fared over the past five years, comparing those which remained council-maintained to those that academised.

It also found that schools that were rated as requires improvement or inadequate were more likely to become good or outstanding if they remained council-maintained and did not convert to an academy.

By looking at an overall sample of 12,814 schools which remained maintained, and 4,033 schools which academised, compared from February 2014 to February 2019, the report found:

  • 90 per cent (9,400) of schools remaining council-maintained have kept their good or outstanding rating, compared to 81 per cent (2,275) of schools which converted to academies
  • 88 per cent (2,048) of schools requiring improvement or judged inadequate in February 2014 which remained maintained became good/outstanding in 2019, compared with 59 per cent (723) of schools which converted to academies
  • 41 per cent (502) of schools requiring improvement or judged inadequate in February 2014 which converted to academies still had the same rating in February 2019.

As part of its #CouncilsCan campaign, the LGA is calling for councils to be allowed to intervene and improve all types of school found to be inadequate – regardless of whether it is a maintained school or academy. The campaign aims to influence the forthcoming Spending Review and highlight the growing risk to vital local services if the Government does not take action to secure the financial sustainability of councils.

Under current rules, councils are stopped from helping, even in cases where a failing school cannot find an academy sponsor.

Maintained schools with inadequate Ofsted judgements, which are considered to be failing, now have to become sponsor-led academies. These are schools taken over by an academy chain, or multi-academy trust (MAT) identified by the Department for Education.

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:

“We all aspire to seeing children get an education of the highest quality, whether that is in an academy or a council-maintained school.

“These findings clearly show that staying under council control delivers better results for a school than those which convert to an academy.

“Not only do more schools keep a good or outstanding rating if they remain maintained, but a significantly greater proportion are being turned around from struggling or failing into highly performing and successful schools.

“While academisation might be the answer in some cases, it is not always the best solution.

“Councils have an excellent track record in improving schools, and need to be given the necessary powers to intervene and support schools.”

Academies Minister Lord Agnew said:

“The LGA’s interpretation of this analysis is deeply flawed. The data actually underlines why our reforms were necessary and morally right, by pointing out how many under-performing schools were taken out of local authority control and turned into academies. It is unsurprising that local authorities fare better in an analysis which exclude schools that had failed under their leadership. It does not say anything about the effectiveness of sponsored academies.

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“Contrary to the LGA’s interpretation, data published earlier this year shows that, in many cases, standards have risen more quickly in under-performing schools that have become academies than in similar council-run schools – reversing long-term cases of underperformance across the country.”

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