The introduction of Academy schools to England’s education
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Andrew Eyles and Professor Stephen Machin

Pupils perform much better in schools that have undergone academy conversion according to this study. Looking at the sponsored academies set up under the last Labour government, the research finds that the increased autonomy that academy status brought these schools led to vast improvements in pupil intake and performance, though it is too early to say whether the same improvements will be seen in academies set up after 2010.

With mass academisation being the order of the day in the English education system, the researchers set out to discover what impact the first waves of academies had on pupils. Through thorough analysis of school data before and after conversion, they found that being free from local authority control gave the first wave of academies greater autonomy over their own management, which helped to improve pupils’ performance.

The schools converted to academies under the last Labour government tended to perform badly. In converting to academies these schools gained control over parts of their curriculum, the structure and length of the school day; the school budget, and all staffing decisions. Changed school leadership was seen to be one of the key factors towards improving school and pupil performance. It was noted that schools that converted to academies after 2010 were not necessarily performing badly before they changed, and so it was hard to predict whether they would see similar improvements to those that converted prior to 2010. 

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Andrew Eyles and Professor Stephen Machin

Published by:
Centre for Economic Performance (CEP)

Date of publication:
August 2015

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The comparison of pre-conversion data to post-conversion data may prove a useful guide for readers wishing to research their own institution’s performance after a change to academy status, or similar change in governance or leadership.


Record ID:
R122 / 211
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