Union leaders have accused the government of relying on “badly flawed” evidence to justify plans to join the Academy Trust in all schools in England.
The National Education Union (NUU) met with Education Secretary Nadeem Jahavi on Wednesday to challenge the evidence used to support the government’s drive for full education by 2030, announced in a school white paper earlier this week.
Describing it as a “con job”, the NEU said the evidence cited in government-supporting documents, along with a white paper published Monday, was a case of a fully-fledged trust-led system “extremely weak” and potentially “misleading.”
Academies are state-funded schools with a high degree of governance, resource use, and curriculum autonomy. The government has said it wants all schools to either become academies or join the Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) by 2030 to “transform incomplete schools and help deliver the best possible results for children”.
The NEU said there was no evidence to support the government’s claim. In contrast, it says that its own analysis of offset judgments indicates that schools participating in MATS are less likely to improve and more likely to lag behind.
According to the union’s research, primary schools maintained by local authorities were previously judged to be outstanding by offset, more likely to retain that rating when re-inspected than other types of schools – 30% compared to only 7% of Mats’ primary.
“Surprisingly”, if an outstanding primary school from one mat is transferred to another mat in a process known as re-broking, 0% retain their outstanding status, where only 12% of good or well localized-maintained primary schools fall short. 35% of the Mats are better at their next visit than the primary.
The Department for Education (DfE) has rejected criticism of NEU. “The claims are incorrect and based on the election data, they misrepresent our published evidence.”
“We have a decade of evidence that academy trusts can transform poorly performing schools. More than seven out of 10 schools that have become academies due to poor performance now have a good or outstanding offset rating, compared to one in 10 local authority-maintained schools, “said a spokesman.
“We want all schools to be part of a strong academy trust so that they can benefit from the trust’s support in everything from teacher training, curriculum, financial planning and inclusion, excellent behavior and attendance culture to children with additional needs.”
But Kevin Courtney, NEU’s joint general secretary, says the union’s analysis has made the government’s drive toward full education in the name of raising standards meaningless. “It shows that there is no compelling reason to join a school trust. It also provides strong evidence against re-enrollment from one mat to another.
Nadeem Jahawi says he wants to be driven by evidence. He must respond to this evidence and stop this ideological drive. Teachers and parents want the government to focus their efforts on improving schools and what works and abandoning their ideological obsession with marketing. “
The NEU has also sued DfE for “systematically misreporting” many schools while filing lawsuits for the academy trust, claiming outstanding judgments for schools in the MAT that were awarded during the Schools Council Maintenance.
The union has accused DfE of using smaller samples to produce higher results for schools at MAT and failing to provide information in a “highly misleading” way for these samples – student premiums – additional funding for the most disadvantaged children. .
Previous research by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) and others has found little difference in the results achieved by academies and local authority-maintained schools.
John Andrews, head of EPI’s analysis, said: “The ambition to move all schools to a multi-academy trust may be a necessary tidy up of a school landscape that has been fragmented for more than a decade, but it is not a silver bullet. Improvement or equality.
“If the government is going to argue that full academic standards are improving, we need to better understand what the highest performing trusts are doing that sets them apart from the rest.”