This report brings together findings from our interactive benchmarking tool, which compares the performance of individual academy trusts, local authorities, federations and dioceses across four key performance indicators, along with results from our Decisions in Education in England (DEEP) survey of senior leaders working in school groups.  

Key Findings 

On the school workforce 

  • MAT leaders identify recruitment as their biggest challenge. Amongst secondary schools, multi-academy trusts have, on average, significantly higher annual turnover of classroom teachers than local authorities (16.9% in the median MAT, 14.4% in the median LA), and annual turnover is even higher in larger MATs (19.5% on average).
  • Although we cannot assume causality, at secondary, high teacher turnover is negatively correlated with overall attainment and post-16 destinations. However, there is no such correlation between teacher turnover and the progress of both disadvantaged and low prior attaining pupils. At primary, we found no correlation between teacher turnover and headline KS2 attainment.
  • Similarly, higher levels of efficiency are associated with higher rates of classroom teacher turnover. This suggests that teacher turnover isn’t necessarily a negative outcome, if for example schools are adept at identifying and retaining only high-quality teachers, this could potentially help drive efficiencies.

On financial health 

  • At primary, multi-academy trusts are around twice as likely to have positive in-year balances compared to other group types. At secondary, MATs are almost three times as likely to have positive in-year balances than other school groups (though on average, they represent a smaller percentage of overall budgets than in primary).
  • 90 per cent of MATs in our survey used top-slicing (taking a fixed proportion of funding from all schools) rather than pooling funding across all schools. On average they top-sliced around 6 per cent of school budgets.
  • Diocesan school groups typically self-generate the largest fraction of their income, over 6 per cent on average, whilst academy trusts have the lowest self-generated income. This may reflect the level of affluence of the communities which schools serve.

On pupil inclusion and attainment 

  • Larger MATs (with 10 or more schools in a phase) have, on average, higher rates of persistent absence, suspension, and unexplained exits than smaller MATs and local authorities. However, these larger MATs admit greater rates of disadvantaged pupils and have higher attainment outcomes for low prior attaining and disadvantaged pupils.
  • Primary school groups linked to dioceses (MAT and non-MAT) have intakes that are less representative of their local area. However, they have relatively low levels of persistent absence and relatively high overall attainment.​
  • Internal exclusions are not captured in national data collections but findings from the DEEP survey indicate the use of internal exclusion is more prevalent in secondary schools – less than 3 per cent of sampled secondary schools reported not using internal exclusion at all, in comparison with almost a quarter of primary schools.

Policy recommendations 

  • The Department for Education should now publish easily accessible metrics for school groups, in line with its approach of “trust quality descriptors”. This would allow users to see the relative strengths and weaknesses of school groups and allow a more informed understanding of their performance and how they reflect their local communities.
  • The accountability and inspection system should be reviewed, and consideration should be given to how it can better reflect the different pupil demographics and circumstances of individual schools. Schools that admit representative proportions of disadvantaged pupils or those with additional needs should not be penalised under any potential new system.
  • The school admissions code should be reviewed with a focus on inclusion.  In particular, it should consider why certain types of school groups (such as dioceses) appear to be less likely to reflect their local areas in terms of the number of pupils from low-income backgrounds that they admit.
  • Consistent Financial Returns should move to collecting the income and expenditure of local authority education teams akin to the data reported by trusts on central teams through the Academies Accounting Return. This would allow for better comparisons between how trust central teams and local authorities top-slice and re-distribute grant income.

You can read the full report here.

You can access the online interactive benchmarking tool here.

This research has been kindly supported by GL Assessment and Capita Entrust. 


About GL Assessment  

GL Assessment helps schools and school groups identify a student’s strengths, pinpoint areas of need and put targeted measures in place to help them reach their full potential. At a higher level, their assessment data helps trusts highlight strengths and gaps in reading and core subjects, identify and support students with additional learning needs, deliver evidence of whole school improvement, and provide evidence of progress, both at school and trust-level. GL Assessment is proud to be part of Renaissance, a global leader in education technology. To learn more, visit

About Capita Entrust  

Capita Entrust aims to help schools deliver positive outcomes and futures for both staff and pupils. As a partner to over 6,000 schools and MATs across the UK, Capita Entrust understands the complexities and challenges faced by those in education. From delivering stability to scalability to success, their national reach and local expertise give schools the tools and capabilities they need to achieve their goals. And everything they do is tailored to meet the precise needs and priorities of individual schools and academy trusts. Capita Entrust support with people solutions and workforce development, finance and governance, education technologies, property and facilities management, and pupil skills and career development. To learn more, visit