The Educational Excellence Everywhere white paper makes it clear that the government would like all schools to be academies and most academies to be part of a multi-academy trust. But does joining a MAT lead to faster school improvement? We decided to look at the evidence. Here's a quick overview of our first investigation.
Ofsted data seems to be the best bet for measuring school improvement. We've been gathering Ofted ratings on all schools for years and accounting for changes in name, URN etc, so we can see exactly when their ratings change going back to 2008. We also know when each establishment joined a MAT, so we can see whether any academy has improved since joining.
But first, what about the differences between academies and non-academies since last inspections?
There's very little difference in improvement between academies and non-academies, according to Ofsted overall rating data:
- a third have made no improvement at all since 2011
- 43% of both types have increased their overall ratings by one grade
- 6% of both types have increased their overall ratings by two grades
Effectiveness of leadership and management has shown less improvement - again, similar patterns for both types of schools, but with just 36% of schools improving by one grade in this criterion.
Other ratings show the same approximate improvements as the overall rating.
Net improvement: If we look at the net gain and loss (ie the difference between % improvement by one or two grades and % decline by one or two grades), we find that a third of shoos overall have improved since 2011 (50% have got better; 17% have got worse). Again it's very similar for academies and other schools.
We looked at Ofsted ratings before and after joining a MAT and compared these with other schools. There is a very marked difference between MAT academies and non-MAT academies:
- Where a third of non-MATs have made no improvement since 2011, almost half of MAT schools have made no improvement
- Where there is a net improvement across all schools of 33%, in MAT schools this is only 18%
- These differences are approximately the same for each individual Ofsted rating
Of course, some academies joined MATs because they were performing poorly in Ofsted ratings - only 12% of MAT academies analysed were Outstanding before joining, whereas almost 20% of all academies were at their previous inspections. Meanwhile 40% of MATs required improvement previously, while only 13% of non-MATs did. It could be argued that the weaker the school is, the more difficult it is to improve, but the average time between joining a MAT and latest inspection date is 2.3 years, so overall, these schools have had plenty of opportunity to make some improvement, it could be argued.
Note that the improvement figures do not include academies that could not improve because they were already Outstanding at the previous inspection.
We're not conducting this research in order to make a point for or against MATs, just trying to see what the data shows.
Full reporting on this project will be available towards the end of June 2016, in which we'll look at other aspects of MAT membership including:
- Destination measures
- Finance and spending
- CPD and support provision
- Teacher incentives and rates of pay
We're not only looking at MATs vs academies, but we'll also consider whether primary or secondary schools do any better in any of the above and we'll examine whether any particular MATs are faring better than others.
This is an extensive study and we'd like to invite you to submit your own questions during April and May 2016.
Want to find out more about MATs? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org