ARK Schools, one of the leading City Academy providers, has just released another
amazing set of results with GCSE passes 11 percentage points higher last year than were achieved in 2010. This is staggering progress, given that these schools are serving the same neighbourhoods with the same demographics as the council-run schools which they replaced. It is also a reminder that the City Academy programme, started by Tony Blair and Andrew Adonis and expanded by Michael Gove, can claim to be the most rapidly-vindicated social experiments in recent history. The results of ARK’s schools speak best for themselves:
ARK’s formula clearly works, and I’d like to see it applied to many more schools rapidly. But ARK does not believe in the profit motive, and hence has no direct incentive to expand quickly: it prefers to pay attention to the small number of schools it has. All the better for the kids in those schools, you might say. But the experience of Sweden clearly shows that a not-for-profit school chain will expand at a slower rate.
run by profit-seeking International English Schools, has been given the go-ahead by the Department. Matthew Hancock, the local MP, will be delighted. I hope this is just the beginning of IES’s expansion: chains like ARK have shown the transformative difference a properly-run school can make.