‘Old habits’ return to early academies as A-level results slump

Research shows tail-off in performance at the first state schools granted new status

The first tranche of state schools to be granted independent academy status by the Government suffered a significant decline in their A-level performance last year, an analysis of results by The Independent suggests.

Both Labour and Conservative administrations have championed the academy system as a way of raising standards by giving schools freedom from local authority control and the backing of external sponsors.

However, a study of sixth-form results from 2009 to 2012 suggests that the early academic gains may be tailing off – with older academies performing significantly less well than newer ones and those which are still under council control.

Education experts said that the findings could be the result of “old habits reasserting themselves”, as schools loose the impetus and novelty which came with a new start and often  new buildings.

The analysis compared the results of 64 secondary academies created under Labour between 2002 and 2008 with those of all schools for the academic years 2009-2012.

Many of the schools in the first wave of academies were judged to be failing by the Government and were re-opened as academies to give them a “fresh start”. Since the election, the Coalition has extended the programme to all schools with hundreds of new academies being created.

But the research shows that while the wave of academies continued to make gains between 2009 and 2011 last year, their average results tailed off.

Compared to all schools that put pupils in for Key Stage 5 examinations, results from early academies fell twice as far.

Overall, the average point scores of older academies fell from 676 to 661 while the average across all schools fell from 761 to just 758.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, said one explanation was a natural trailing off of impetus.

“The first academies originally saw a pretty dramatic improvement in some pretty dire schools,” he said.

“It could be [they have fallen recently] because there was more excitement at first because the academy is different and there is a lot of enthusiasm.

“Almost any education innovation produces an effect for a limited time, then, as it settles down, there is a chance that old habits reassert themselves. It could be it’s taken to as long as 2012 for the old ways to start coming back.”

He continued: “What we really need to know is whether this is a trend.

“Research like this poses interesting questions. It is important to get information like this because it is too easy for some people to just say academies work better than other schools – but that’s often without evidence.”

Stephen Twigg, Labour’s education spokesman, accused David Cameron and the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, of “threatening school standards”.

He said: “Under Labour, academies were driving up standards in some of the most-challenging schools in the country. Now, under this Government, underperformance and mismanagement are being spotted far too late.”

But a spokesman for the Department for Education said the study’s sample size was too small to assess the success of academies.

“Pupils in academies and free schools are more likely to achieve three  As at A-level than pupils in local authority-maintained schools,” he said.

“Furthermore, the proportion of pupils achieving five A* to C grades increased by 3 per cent in sponsored academies last year, compared to a rise of 0.6 per cent across all state-funded schools. This is giving more pupils the chance to continue studying post 16.”

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Science Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Science Teachers needed for s...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?