The Venturers’ Trust, which is managed by the Society of Merchant Venturers and comprises seven Bristol academy schools, has been praised for the impact it is having on the lives of disadvantaged young people in Bristol.
The Sutton Trust, which works to improve social mobility through education, has named The Venturers’ Trust among the top ten academy chains in the country.
The organisation’s 2016 Chain Effects study shows that overall the two Venturers’ Trust secondary schools did particularly well in respect of the proportion of disadvantaged students achieving at least five A*-C GCSEs and the proportion achieving higher grades in the English Baccalaureate subjects.
The report noted that more students were entered for EBacc in the two Venturers’ Trust secondary schools than in most other academy chains.
Students’ performance put The Venturers’ Trust in the top ten among 39 academy chains for results achieved between 2013 and 2015. The Trust was also in the top 15 for expected progress in English and maths, capped GCSE point scores and overall performance in a student’s best eight GCSEs. This range of attainment and progress scores was used to reflect changing performance measures nationally.
The analysis looked at academy groups that have had at least two secondary schools and four schools overall since 2012, on the basis that this was a long enough period for academy sponsors to have had an effect.
The study focussed on disadvantaged students - those who have received free school meals over the last six years, a definition used in allocating additional government funding known as the pupil premium. However, the study, by Professor Merryn Hutchings, Professor Becky Francis and Dr Philip Kirby, recognised that the most successful schools achieved good outcomes for students from better-off backgrounds as well as those who were eligible for pupil premium.
Overall, the results were mixed for academy chains but the Sutton Trust said that sponsored chains, including philanthropic sponsorship, had been a lynchpin of the academies system to date. The best chains, it said, “continue to achieve impressive outcomes for their disadvantaged students against a range of measures, demonstrating the transformational impact on life chances that can be made.”