The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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Spotlight on multi-academy trusts: A glimpse into performance

By Jens Van den Brande

In recent weeks, NFER has shone a spotlight on multi-academy trusts (MATs) through our blog series examining what we know about the position of MATs in the education landscape. This time last week, NFER’s Karen Wespieser highlighted that despite the Department for Education (DfE) releasing their latest statistics on MAT performance measures on 25 January, we are still yet to know how MATs are performing in terms of improving pupil outcomes.  In this final blog in the series, we delve further into this issue.  Continue reading


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Spotlight on multi-academy trusts: what is happening to performance?

By Karen Wespieser 

Over the course of the past week, we have been sharing what the research tells us so far about Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs). We started by looking at pupil outcomes, and then moved on to teachers and schools. Today though, is a big day in terms of moving forward the evidence base on MATs’ performance. At 0930 hours this morning, the Department for Education (DfE) released ‘Multi-academy trust performance measures: 2016 to 2017’, the department’s own statistics on the performance of state-funded schools in multi-academy trusts in England. So what does this add to our story?  Continue reading


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Spotlight on multi-academy trusts: Teachers and schools

By Karen Wespieser

Last week, in the first part of our blog series on multi-academy trusts (MATs), we looked at what pupil performance data could tell us about MATs and found rather inconclusive evidence. In this blog post, we will look at three areas where there is a growing evidence base about MATs; teacher career paths, collaboration and financial efficiencies. Continue reading


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Spotlight on multi-academy trusts: Pupil outcomes

By Karen Wespieser

Just before Christmas, I was invited to present at a conference on establishing or joining multi-academy trusts (MATs). My role in the event was to share what the research tells us so far about MATs and I was given two questions to answer:

  • What does the research say about the success of the MAT movement?
  • Has enough research been conducted to present tangible arguments about the benefits of MATs?

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Income and expenditure in academies: new data raises more questions than answers

By Claire Easton

The latest Department for Education (DfE) statistics on income and expenditure in academies in England for 2015/16 were released last week. Press coverage focused on the extent to which academies’ expenditure exceeds their income. This shows that the total excess expenditure for all academies has risen from one per cent of total income in 2014/15 to 1.5 per cent in 2015/16 equating to an overspend of £280m in 2015/16. The DfE states that these figures do not necessarily mean that individual academies are in debt as they could be drawing on their reserves. It is not possible to tell from this Statistical First Release (SFR), which, overall, we think raises more questions than it answers. Continue reading


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Regional Schools Commissioners and the performance of multi-academy trusts

By Ben Durbin

Substantial and increasing numbers of English schools are run by Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs), and yet we currently have no consistent and agreed upon method for assessing how well these MATs are performing.

This is one of the issues that was touched upon during yesterday’s Select Committee hearing on Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs), which I was invited to appear before. Continue reading