New figures published by the government today reveal how well the country’s multi-academy trusts are performing.
The Department for Education’s MAT league tables rank chains based on their progress scores and other metrics recorded in last summer’s GCSEs.
The data covers 102 trusts with three or more schools that have been with them for at least three years.
Here’s what we found.
1. MAT progress scores have improved, but they’re still behind
Nationally, the progress 8 score of pupils in MATs measured in the league tables was -0.02 last year.
This is up from -0.04 in 2018, but still below the 0.01 score for all state-funded mainstream schools.
The proportion of MATs with below-average progress scores is also larger than the proportion with above-average scores, at 39 per cent and 31 per cent respectively.
The EBacc entry rate among MATs was 38 per cent last year. Among state-funded mainstream schools more widely, it was 41 per cent.
2. Star Academies still in pole position, but progress score halved
Star Academies, which topped last year’s MAT league tables under its previous name, Tauheedul, is number one for Progress 8 again this year, with an average score of 0.74.
However, this is a lot lower than the trust’s score in 2018, which was 1.42.
The trust is closely followed by the Dixons Academies trust, with a score of 0.72 (down from 0.83 last year) and the Cardinal Hume Academies Trust on 0.71.
Overall, six trusts have “well above average” progress scores. The other three are the Diocese of London (0.6), the Education and Leadership Trust (0.59) and the Gorse Academies Trust (0.59).
3. Trust founded by Presidents Club co-chair is bottom of the league
At the bottom of the league table for Progress 8 is the Meller Educational Trust, an academy chain founded by former DfE board member David Meller. The trust had an average progress score of -0.67 last year.
Meller took a leave of absence from the trust in early 2018 following allegations of sexual harassment by diners at the exclusive Presidents Club charity dinner, of which he was an organiser and co-chair. Company records show he resigned as a trustee in February 2018.
Other trusts at the bottom include the University of Wolverhampton multi-academy trust, which has been criticised for its financial management, and the University of Chester Academies Trust, which has since given up all of its schools.
4. The disadvantage gap is still widening
Updated headline data for all state-funded schools has also been published today. It means we can analyse the performance of different groups of pupils.
The data shows that the disadvantage gap – the difference in performance between poorer pupils and their better-off peers – widened again last year.
The gap of 3.70 in 2019 is higher than it was in 2018 (3.68) and 2017 (3.66), but is still lower than it was in 2011 (4.07). The gap was closing until 2017.
Dr. Maria Neophytou, director of social mobility charity Impetus, said the gap was closing “so slowly it will take until 2066 to close the gap entirely”.
“That’s a hundred year’s from England’s men winning the football world cup,” she added.
“It’s unacceptable that too many young people leave school without vital passes in English and maths – the absolute basics.”
5. Progress of white pupils worsens
The average progress score of white pupils slumped last year, while most other ethnicities saw their progress improve.
White pupils had an average progress 8 score of -0.11 in 2019, lower than the -0.10 they scored in 2018.
At the same time, the progress scores of mixed-race pupils improved from -0.02 to 0, black pupils from 0.12 to 0.13 and Asian pupils from 0.45 to 0.47.
Only Chinese pupils also saw their average progress score fall – from 1.03 in 2018, to 0.86 last year, though they remain the highest performing ethnic group in terms of progress 8.
However, the data is based on the outcomes of just 1,697 Chinese pupils, meaning it is easier for large fluctuations in scores as these can be based on the results of a smaller number of pupils.
Although black pupils overall had an above-average progress 8 score in 2019, this masks poor performance among black Caribbean pupils, who had an average score of -0.31.
The lowest-performing sub-group was those of Irish traveller heritage, who had an average progress score of -1.05.
6. SEN pupils still far behind their peers
Pupils with special educational needs are still massively underperforming when it comes to both their progress 8 and attainment 8 scores.
In 2019, the average attainment 8 score among SEN pupils was 27.6, compared with a score of 49.9 for pupils without SEN.
SEN pupils had an average progress 8 score of -0.62, while those with no identified SEN scored 0.08.
The gap is even wider for those with a statement of SEN or education, health and care plan, who scored an average progress 8 score of -1.17.
“Some groups of disadvantaged pupils make less progress than others because of challenges in their lives, and this can penalise schools with more disadvantaged pupils,” warned Duncan Baldwin, deputy policy director of the Association of School and College Leaders.
The data also shows smaller gaps between boys and girls (44 and 49.5 respectively) and disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils (36.7 and 50.3).
Native English speakers and those whose first language is not English have very similar average attainment 8 scores.