July 31, 2014

Report by Sutton Trust shows CAT is succeeding

Recently the Sutton Trust published an informative piece of research called 'Chain Effects'. The report analysed the performance of a number of academy chains by studying the GCSE attainment and progress measures of students from 2011 to 2013 including only those schools that had been open since 2011. It concluded that some were performing better than others.

The report focused on absolute student attainment because, as the report authors make clear this increases career opportunities for young people and is likely to lead to opportunities at university. The report draws attention to the progress students make from the end of Key Stage 2 and tries to combine the attainment and progress measures to determine the chains that are most successful.

The outcomes of the three secondary academies within the Co-operative Academies Trust (CAT) are included in the report's findings.

The main CAT findings are:

  • CAT's secondary schools have the third highest proportion of students claiming free school meals out of the 31 academy chains reviewed P.18
  • Students joining CAT academies have the lowest attainment scores of all academy chains at Year 6 P.19
  • Overall improvement for disadvantaged students at CAT academies is 6th out of 31 academy chains (Above Average) P.49

The report states that the most successful chains are the ones with the greatest school improvement experience, a clear mission and a sustainable approach to growth. A recent DfE analysis concluded that ‘high performing sponsors have strong and determined CEOs with a clear moral purpose’. The best chains have used their status effectively to recruit good teachers and leaders. They are clearly fulfilling the original mission of academies. Their students have been given the second chance that they deserve.

It is our belief that our academies are delivering the second chance for our students. We have come a long way but we are determined to push forward to ensure that our students achieve highly in terms of attainment and progress. Unfortunately, the report does not explain that students will only achieve highly in attainment terms if they make rapid and sustained progress. In the short time CAT has been responsible for its academies it can demonstrate clearly that disadvantaged students make good progress. The report supports this belief.