Every month, we track of the size and shape of the wide reaching and rapid changes underway across the education system as academies and, in particular, academy groups become the pre-eminent force in the sector. This December we take a look back at 2020/21 and assess the impact that COVID has had on growth, movement and mergers within the academies space over the past 12 months.
Let’s start with a simple one: which Trust is largest?
No prizes on offer for this one we’re afraid.
Whether we mean by pupils or schools, the answer is the same. United Learning with 53,925 pupils at 75 schools.
Ok, how about the second largest? Or who makes up the Top 10? The Top 25? How have they changed over time? Or who’s growing the quickest?
Definitely trickier. And prizes may have to be available.
The Department for Education does make this data available via Getting Information about Schools, but those who have spent a few hours with their hands on it will attest to it being the data equivalent of scraping the burnt bits off a round of toast - it’s time consuming and messy.
Every month via this newsletter, our Twitter feed (here) and our linkedIn (here) we are going to post updates from the continuous analysis that we are running on those datasets, giving you a sense of the shape and direction of the system. There’s a lot happening so we can’t cover it all, but we’ll aim to give you insights on what is happening at the group level (growth, mergers etc.) and at the system level (distributions, scale etc.).
Whatever your stance on school groups, we now know that they’re not only here to stay, but that they are set to become the pre-eminent force in the sector over the next ten years: increasing numbers of schools will academise joining the 39% of schools (representing 52% of pupils) that already have, and more of those schools will form into, or join with Multi-Academy groups.
Wherever you sit within the sector, it might be useful for you to have an outline of how those changes are playing out.
We’re mostly going to cover questions of size, shape and direction via these updates. This is (of course) not because school groups that are large, or changing size, are inherently good or bad. No MAT leader that we have sat down with has ever suggested that their size or shape has offered them immunity from the challenges that come with running schools, though many have said the opposite.
We're focusing on MAT growth because a) we’re in the midst of a period of change for the system, b) Habitude’s typical MAT customer is going through some type of transformation at the moment, or is making sense of their size and c) there is less written about than this other facets of the sector.
We’re working with data collected from GIAS and we will publish, we are sure, errors and inconsistencies based on the data within those sets. Our apologies upfront for these. In that spirit you should take what you read here as indicative as opposed to gospel.
If you work for a MAT or school it's always a good idea to keep GIAS up-to-date and if you spot an error in our analysis then you should definitely login and check for accuracy.
Finally, suggestions are very welcome. If there are particular aspects of the sector that you would like us to point our analytics tools at, if we can do it, we will.
This month we have been taking a scan across the year just past: September 2020 through to September 2021.
That's it for December. We'll be back in January with updates from the 2021/22 so far.
Former National Schools Commissioner - Sir David Carter - joins us to share discuss where we are at with academy group movement as a whole: what the system has learned so far, and what might the future look like?
Former National Schools Commissioner - Sir David Carter - joins us to share his advice for school academy groups that are in the midst of, or are setting out on a growth journey.
Neelam Parmar is the Director of Digital Learning and Education for Harrow International Schools in Southeast Asia. Ten schools currently fall under that umbrella with seven of those located in China. Neelam has previously worked as Director of Digital Learning and Innovation at Ashford School and as an Educational Technologist for the United Learning Group. Prior to and during the Covid-19 pandemic, she contributed to the Department of Education's digital strategy. Neelam caught up with Habitude founder Izzi Dorrian to chat about nurturing a communal culture within a group of schools based in very different locations.