Friday 11 December 2015

‘Top Performing’ Academy Chains at the Bottom of the Tables

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Downhills Strike HarrisYesterday saw the annual publication of London’s Primary school League tables in the Evening Standard.

Two of the big academy chains, Harris and Ark feature in the tables. Ark and Harris have been trumpeted by successive Education Secretaries and government officials as being the answer to perceived underperformance in our schools. If a school is deemed to be ‘failing’ then what should we do? The only answer is that the school must be academised, preferably by an academy chain with a ‘track record’, like Harris or Ark.

So where would we imagine their academies would be in the league tables? It turns out that Harris Primary Academy Merton is the worst performing school in that borough with an aggregated Sats score of 61%; Harris Primary Academy Peckham Park is the second worst performing school in Southwark, with a score of 58% and Ark Swift Primary Academy is the worst performing school in Hammersmith and Fulham with Sats at 60%. Compare that with Downhills Primary in north London was forcibly converted to a Harris academy, when they scored 70% in 2012.

Of course, Sats results do not give a full picture of the overall performance of a school, but when the Government dialogue focuses on these results, we must question their own logic in forcibly removing schools from communities and handing them over to private trusts. Academisation is not about school improvement, but is in fact enforcing an ideology of small government: outsourcing public services including our schools.

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