Magazine article Public Finance

Academies Are Academic Success but Losing Focus on Poorest Pupils

Magazine article Public Finance

Academies Are Academic Success but Losing Focus on Poorest Pupils

Article excerpt

The rapidly expanding school academies programme has improved standards of education, the government's spending watchdog has said, but its impact on the poorest pupils is diminishing.

The National Audit Office also cautioned that past successes did not mean the scheme would continue to perform well in the future, as its remit has widened dramatically under the new government.

An NAO report published on September 10 found that some academies had difficulties balancing their books, and scaling up the scheme increased the risks to value for money.

NAO head Amyas Morse said that overall many of the 203 academies open at the end of August this year were 'performing impressively', with GCSE pass rates improving faster than the national average.

But, he added: 'It cannot be assumed that academies' performance to date is an accurate predictor of how the model will perform when generalised more widely. Existing academies have been primarily about school improvement in deprived areas, while new academies will often be operating in very different settings.'

The proportion of academy pupils from deprived backgrounds was falling, the watchdog found, while the gap in exam results between the poorest and other pupils was widening. …

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