Press release

Tackling underperformance in weak primary schools

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Primary academies are transforming attainment in primary schools.

Students looking at a map

The Department for Education today announced that more than 400 struggling primary schools were paired up with academy sponsors in the last year - exceeding a pledge made 12 months ago.

In 2012, 200 of the weakest primaries became sponsored academies - after which the government promised to go even further and faster in tackling underperformance, and pledged to broker sponsorship of 400 further failing primaries in 2013.

It means that 645 underperforming primary schools have now come under the wing of academy sponsors under this government - with their previous poor performance now being tackled and standards being raised.

In May 2010 there were 203 academies - all of them sponsored, none of them primary schools. In total there are now more than 3,500 academies.

The primary school tables, published last month, showed that sponsored academies had improved their performance by 3 percentage points, against an improvement in all schools of 1 percentage point.

Examples of some of the primary schools which became sponsored academies in 2012 when they were among the poorest in the country, but which are now thriving, include:

  • Ryecroft Primary Academy in Bradford (sponsored by Northern Education Trust since September 2012) - 74% of pupils achieved the expected level in the 3 Rs in 2013, up 48 percentage points
  • Harris Primary Academy Coleraine Park in Haringey, London (sponsored by the Harris Federation since September 2012) - 70% of pupils achieved the expected level in the 3 Rs in 2013, up 23 percentage points from 2012
  • Race Leys Junior School in Bedworth, Warwickshire (sponsored by Griffin Trust since September 2012) - where almost a third of pupils exceeded the expected level in the 3 Rs
  • Harris Primary Academy Philip Lane in Haringey, London (sponsored by the Harris Federation since September 2012) - 75% of 6-year-olds this year passed the phonics check, up from 36% in 2012, while in results for 11-year-olds, 78% achieved the expected level in reading (up from 67%) and 81% managed that in maths (up from 69%)
  • Dashwood Banbury Academy in Oxfordshire (sponsored by AAT since August 2012) - where 29% of pupils exceeded the expected level in the 3 Rs
  • Garden City Academy in Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire (sponsored by Reach 2 since September 2012) - where 27% of children exceeded the expected level in the 3 Rs

A Department for Education spokesman said:

The best way to turn around the stubborn underperformance that exists in some schools is to bring in a sponsor. These sponsors bring with them experience, strong leadership, know-how - and a track record of success.

It is vital we continue to raise standards so all children leave primary school with a thorough grounding in reading, writing and maths so they can thrive at secondary school.

The sponsored academy programme is in addition to the hundreds of schools which can convert to academy status (known as converter academies). The academy programme was previously focused only on underperforming secondary schools. This government is now using academies to tackle weak primary schools as well. It has also allowed schools to take advantage of the freedoms and autonomy on offer by academy status, by converting.

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Published 3 January 2014