The cracks in the English school system are growing. So is the evidence that children are falling through them. Our report this week that four academy chains including the high-performing Harris Federation are losing between 5% and 7% of pupils in the run-up to GCSEs raises questions to which the schools, Ofsted and the government must now provide answers.
While the number of children leaving schools when they are aged 15 or 16 is rising nationally (from less than 0.1% seven years ago to 2% this year), and some large local authorities have seen rises of 4-5%, academies are losing more pupils than other types of schools. Guardian research this summer showed that the majority of schools that issued more than 20% of pupils with a fixed-term exclusion in 2016-17 were also academies.