Pupils do better at schools in academy chains than single academy schools

The Times is reporting research that has looked at the impact of academy chains on performance in schools and found strong variations between the best and the worst as well as suggesting students generally do better at schools in a chain rather than a single academy (although one of the authors also appears to question whether academy chains are a better model than local authorities)…

…The study, led by the University of Southampton, is the first to seek to measure the impact of academy chains on results.

It found that schools run by a multiple academy sponsor produced better results than single academy schools. This was based on averaged results across ten groups of academies.

It found a bigger variance between school chains with different sponsors and even among schools within the same group. The most successful chains were those that used a hands-on, centralised approach such as setting targets for results, teaching support, training and senior appointments…

“Results show that being part of a chain was positively related to pupil outcomes, explaining up to 21 per cent of school-level variance in attainment,” a paper on their research says. But there were also big differences in results at schools within chains, both between different sponsors and in some among schools within the same chain. “Centralisation was found to be significantly related to student attainment taking intake into account,” the paper says.

Professor Chris Chapman, from the University of Manchester, who worked on the study with academics from Southampton, said: “Poorer performing chains tend to replicate the characteristics of low performing local authorities. These include perceived lack of value for money by schools within the chains and ineffective monitoring and support for improvement. Therefore, to date, chains have failed to deliver a credible alternative to local authorities.”

More at: Pupils do better at schools in academy chains (subscription required)

Your reaction to these findings? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

It was a game that the pupils suggested, says 'devastated' Sellotape row teacher
GCSE shame of 'flagship' academies as it is revealed six of the Coalition's schools are among the country's worst
Categories: Academies and Research.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove So when you read it different do well at different schools and some don’t do well at some schools. How insightful…

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Quite – slightly meaningless and a waste of university funding? Kids do well at some schools, not so well at others

  3. nickhassey

    Samfr does it say pupils in chains outperform pupils in community schools, or just pupils in chains outperform those in stand alone acads?

  4. nickhassey

    Samfr But what if we stripped the good academy chains out of the academy vs non academy figures? Are good chains skewing the analysis?

  5. nickhassey

    Samfr I meant what if evidence we have of acads doing better than non acads is just caused by good chains? Rather than benefit of autonomy

  6. nickhassey

    Samfr sorry I’m really making a hash of this. What I’m trying to say is should schls only be allowed to convert as part of a good chain?

Let us know what you think...