Skip to main content

Academies: Disadvantaged

Volume 470: debated on Monday 7 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of academies in targeting the most disadvantaged pupils. (166037)

The academies programme targets areas of inadequate educational opportunity and attainment.

The National Foundation for Educational Research ("Admissions: who goes where? Messages from the statistics", published July 2006) found that academies tended to be situated in areas where the community populations included higher proportions of children eligible for free school meals (FSM); with special educational needs (SEN); of black or ethnic minority origin; and of lower key stage 2 (KS2) ability; and that academies admit higher proportions of pupils eligible for FSM and with SEN than the proportion living in the local postcode districts. Furthermore, they admit a lower proportion of pupils of higher KS2 ability compared to the proportion living within the local postcode districts.

There is a large body of evidence from independent reports and examination results that the academies programme is succeeding in raising aspirations and attainment in the communities they serve. The National Audit Office concluded that pupils' achievements in 2005 and 2006 indicated a strong trend in raising attainment, and that if this trend continues, the academies programme will meet its objective of raising attainment in deprived areas ("The Academies Programme", National Audit Office, February 2007, page 8). The Government agree with this assessment, which is why the Secretary of State in his statement to the House of 10 July 2007, Official Report, columns 1319-23, announced a series of measures to accelerate the academies programme, and the Department plans to open 50 new academies in each of the next three years on its way to opening at least 400 academies.