Statistics on converter academies

October 21st, 2015 by Paul Greatorex

A House of Commons briefing paper was published yesterday which examines data on the number of converter academies and the types of schools that have decided to convert.  The first schools converted to academy status in September 2010 and as at 1 September 2015 the total number to have done so is 3,420.  This number breaks down as follows:

  • The majority (54%) are primary schools, making up 11% of all state funded primary schools
  • 1,393 converter secondaries, making up 41% of all state funded secondary schools
  • 132 special academies, making up 14% of all state funded special schools
  • 31 Pupil Referral Units and three 16+ institutions

There is considerable geographical variation: there are four local authorities where at least 90% of maintained secondary schools have converted (15 local authorities if sponsored academies are included) and one (Bury) with no secondary school conversions.  Local authority conversion rates for primaries are lower, only exceeding 50% in 2 local authorities (Darlington and Bromley) and 0% in 5 (Sefton, Warrington, Greenwich, City of London and Isles of Scilly), but over 20% in 45 authorities .

In terms of pupil intake, the report notes that secondary school converters had a smaller proportion than the national average of:

  • pupils eligible for free school meals (7.7% vs 15.4%)
  • pupils from minority ethnic groups (21% vs 23%), and
  • pupils with SEN (1.8% vs 2.0% statemented and 17% vs 20% unstatemented.

On the controversial subject of exam results, the 2014 GCSE results suggest that attainment levels were highest in schools that had converted to academies, clearly lower in sponsored academies, and the fastest improvements were in maintained schools, but the paper also points out that none of this is particularly surprising .  It refers to the Local Government Association report of July 2014 (which suggested there was no significant difference in attainment progress after two years between converter academies and similar non-academy schools) and agrees with that report’s view that a longer time frame is needed to get a better indication of the impact of conversion.

Finally, the paper notes that as at 1 September 2015 a further 782 schools had applied to convert (67% primary, 26% secondary, 4% special and 3% PRUs).

Paul Greatorex


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