Conor Ryan, Director of Research at the Sutton Trust said:
“The expectation that every school should become an academy is not surprising given the direction of recent policy. However, this is a huge step away from the original purpose of academies – tackling failure in schools serving poorer pupils. Our evidence suggests a mixed picture on the extent to which academy chains are meeting this goal – 11 out of 34 established chains outperforming the national average for attainment in 2014 and 17 improved faster than average. But while some chains are clearly excellent, others have seriously underperformed and have expanded too rapidly.
“Geographically focused chains or multi-academy trusts may help produce economies of scale, through improved subject choice, professional development and shared business management. But there is a big question mark about the capacity of the system to provide the hundreds of new leaders implied in today’s announcement. The danger is that the focus on such massive structural change will distract ministers and regional commissioners from getting it right in weaker schools, academies and chains, not least in areas of greatest disadvantage. If that happens, disadvantaged pupils will be the biggest losers.”
“We welcome plans to increase funding for enrichment in state secondary schools through the ‘longer school day’. Our research has shown that enrichment activities can make a difference to disadvantaged pupils’ life chances, including their later A level subject choices. We would like to see some of the new funds being used to enable poorer pupils to access out-of-school cultural and sporting activities and to provide highly able secondary pupils with an enriched curriculum linked to leading universities.
”We also welcome the plan to make maths to 18 compulsory, and hope that it is taught in a way that enables young people to use it at university and in the workplace. We argued for this reform in our report The Employment Equation.”
Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:
“The evidence in the Teaching and Learning Toolkit suggests that extending the school day can have a positive impact on learning, particularly for those pupils from disadvantaged homes. If spent well, this additional funding has the potential to make a real difference to pupils’ outcomes and could help to close the gap in attainment between children from richer and poorer homes.
“But if this new fund is to be a success, it is absolutely vital that heads and teachers use evidence to inform how they spend it, in the same way that more and more schools are now using evidence to help them spend their pupil premium.
“With today’s announcement, the EEF will look to fund more robust evaluations of extra-curricular activities to add to the evidence base of ‘what works’ and to help teachers make sure that funding for the longer school day is used to good effect. We are already testing a number of programmes that will help teachers to make the most of this money, including tutoring after the school day, at weekends and in the holidays, community and youth social action projects, and flipped learning which involves children learning outside of the core school day.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
• The Sutton Trust publishing an annual analysis of the impact of academy chains on low-income students. Chain Effects shows that while the best academy chains are having a transformational impact on pupils’ life chances, others have seriously underperformed and have expanded too rapidly.
• The Sutton Trust/EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit entry on ‘Extending school time’ shows that pupils make two additional months’ progress per year from extended school time or the targeted use of before and after school programmes. Disadvantaged pupils benefit disproportionately, making approximately two and a half months’ additional progress. There are often wider benefits for low-income students in better school attendance, behaviour and relationships with peers. Evidence based after school programmes that support children academically, while providing stimulating environments and activities, can improve outcomes.
• According to Extracurricular Inequalities, a research brief published by the Sutton Trust in 2013, 76% of parents across all social groups involved their children in some form of regular extra-curricular social activity over the past year. Parents with professional or administrative occupations were 15% more likely than those with manual or routine jobs to involve their children in these activities.
• Subject to Background, a report published by the Sutton Trust in 2015, found that bright but disadvantaged students who engaged in academic enrichment activities between the ages of 11 and 14 were more likely to go on to get four or more AS-levels.