Vocational courses could be key to academy success


Academy pupils do not outperform their non-academy state school peers at GCSE when vocational courses are excluded from results, statistical analysis shows.

The National Foundation for Education Research found that pupils at academies achieved higher GCSE grades compared to those at maintained schools in 2012. However, if GCSE-equivalent subjects, such as National Vocational Qualifications, were not included in the data then no difference was found. Long-established academies performed worse in some instances.

The research, commissioned by the Local Government Association, was based on results recorded in the national pupil database.

David Simmonds, chair of the Local Government Association's children and young people board, said the report suggested conversion to academy status didn't necessarily bring about improvement once GCSE equivalent results were discounted.

He said:"Councils are restlessly ambitious for all children in their local area whatever type of school they attend but have to jump through many hoops before they are allowed to intervene where there are signs of failure.

"As Ofsted increases its inspection of councils' role in improving education, councils need a free hand to intervene early in struggling schools and to reassure mums and dads that their child's one chance at education will give them the best start in life."

But a Department for Education spokesman said: "The LGA is wrong. As their own report acknowledges, academies outperform local authority schools. Thousands of brilliant heads and teachers are taking advantage of the freedoms offered by academy status to drive improvement."

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