‘Academies had poorest Sats results’

Wakefield Council service director John Wilson
Wakefield Council service director John Wilson

A council boss has told schools minister Nick Gibb that the district’s lowest performing primary schools are not ones in the local authority’s control.

Wakefield Council’s director for children and young people’s services John Wilson said the schools with the poorest Sats results last year were academies, run outside of the local council.

Mr Gibb demanded answers from the council last year over the achievements of 11-year-olds in the district.

He sent letters to councils in the areas with the country’s lowest level of pupils getting the expected grades in reading, writing and maths in key stage two.

Mr Wilson said in his response to Mr Gibb that the district’s three lowest performing primary schools were all academies.

He said performance had “dipped significantly” at these schools last year.

In his reply, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, he adds that in 2014 he had “raised specific concerns about the performance of these academies, and others, with the chief officers of seven multi-academy trusts and with the Regional Schools Commissioner”.

He said: “Whilst relations and responses from our multi-academy trust partners are encouraging, I have had no correspondence on action or improvement approaches from the Regional Schools Commissioner.

“This is important because the performance and experience of all children and young people in Wakefield schools and academies are my concern and the performance of academies contributes to the headline figure which has led to your letter.”

The government announced last month that measures to tackle failing and coasting schools in the Education and Adoption Bill would be extended to cover academies and free schools.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We know thousands of academies are transforming the lives of children by offering a standard of education never before seen in many communities.

“Figures show 92 per cent of failing schools that have been inspected have improved since becoming an academy. But it is only right that the small number of academies that are struggling to stretch their pupils are held to account to ensure all children fulfil their potential.”